The double-game continues
The American authorities came in for some severe criticism when it appeared that US officials had scored an own goal by revealing the identity of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, an al Qaeda mole.
Hussain Haqqani now reveals that the leak came from well, Pakistani authorities. That’s quite understandable – with the ISI coming under serious pressure to arrest senior al Qaeda operatives, outing the mole was a great way to warn off al Qaeda members. And blaming the leak on the Bush administration was a masterpiece; an America that is caught up with a bitterly contested election campaign was sure to bite the bait and hold the Bush administration responsible. End result – an American administration on the defensive takes some pressure off the ISI whilst al Qaeda is alerted to the game.
Pakistan’s ability to ‘‘produce’’ Al-Qaeda figures at politically opportune moments has been widely noted in the US media. Recently, Pakistani sources leaked the name of an alleged Al-Qaeda computer wizard arrested in Lahore and later created a fuss over the leak by suggesting that the Americans had blown the cover of a man the Pakistanis intended to use as a double agent inside Al-Qaeda. Such antics are tolerated by the Bush administration as it waits for the big prize, the arrest or killing of Osama bin Laden, but cannot build enduring trust between Pakistan and the United States.[Hussain Haqqani/IE]
In another case, an ISI-linked jihadi cleric died in custody after being arrested by Pakistani authorities on an FBI tip-off. Quite obviously, dead men tell no tales. Another was tipped off about his impending arrest.
Musharraf and his men have demonstrated only too clearly their ability to cleverly manipulate an election year America. More than a terrorist-strike, Americans may have to worry about yet another Musharraf maneouvre that can not only make the presidential election more unpredictable, but cause lasting damage to the public image of its internal security officials.