Michael Meacher, a Labour MP, suggests that the involvement of Pakistani intelligence in 9/11 has been largely ignored by the US government.
Significantly, Sheikh is also the man who, on the instructions of General Mahmoud Ahmed, the then head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wired $100,000 before the 9/11 attacks to Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker. It is extraordinary that neither Ahmed nor Sheikh have been charged and brought to trial on this count. Why not?
Ahmed, the paymaster for the hijackers, was actually in Washington on 9/11, and had a series of pre-9/11 top-level meetings in the White House, the Pentagon, the national security council, and with George Tenet, then head of the CIA, and Marc Grossman, the under-secretary of state for political affairs. When Ahmed was exposed by the Wall Street Journal as having sent the money to the hijackers, he was forced to “retire” by President Pervez Musharraf. Why hasn’t the US demanded that he be questioned and tried in court? [Guardian]
Meacher also points out to instances how the US government’s handling of 9/11 related investigations ends up sweeping the Pakistani connection under the carpet. While he is on firm ground as far as connecting the Pakistani military to al Qaeda and the International Islamic Front, it requires quite a stretch of imagination to conclude that the CIA actually knew about what the ISI was cooking up all along. For one, since the end of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan, the CIA turned its attention away from the region; leaving the Pakistani military awash with arms, funds and infrastructure from the Afghan jihad. The ISI redirected these assets to further its own agenda in Kashmir and Afghanistan, becoming the major sponsor and facilitator of the International Islamic Front led by Osama bin Laden. And secondly, even during the 1980s , General Zia cunningly ensured that while the Americans and Saudis bankrolled the jihad the ISI retained financial and operational control over the mujahideen.
America, though, is guilty of a sin of omission. In the euphoria over its victory in the Cold War, it did not pay enough attention to the aftermath of its Afghan jihad. Throughout the Clinton years, the ISI used assets from the anti-Soviet jihad to create the Taliban, escalate terrorism in Kashmir and nurture bin Laden. These sins of omission not only endangered peace and security in Central and South Asia, but also ultimately took the jihad to American homeland.
Meacher’s erroneous conclusions however should not undermine the important questions that he poses. The US government must be more open in subjecting the Pakistani connection to public and legal scrutiny. The victims of jihadi terrorism in general and those of the 9/11 tragedy in particular deserve no less. And forever shielded from the truth about their own military leaders, so do the Pakistani people.
Related Link: Shaukat Qadir comments on Meacher’s article.