Tag Archives: Jihadism


The curious case of Osama bin Laden

By Pervez Hoodbhoy


….. But then it turned out bin Laden was not hiding in some dark mountain cave in Waziristan. Instead, probably for at least some years, he had lived comfortably smack inside the modern, peaceful, and extraordinarily secure city of Abbottabad. Using Google Earth, one sees that the deceased was within easy walking distance of the famed Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. It is here where General Kayani had declared on April 23 that “the terrorist’s backbone has been broken and inshallah we will soon prevail”. Kayani has released no statement after the killing.

Still more intriguing are pictures and descriptions of bin Laden’s fortress house. Custom-designed, it was constructed on a plot of land roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. Television images show that it has high walls, barbed wire and two security gates. Who approved the construction and paid for it? Why was it allowed to be away from the prying eyes of the secret agencies?

Even the famous and ferocious General Hamid Gul (retd) — a bin Laden sympathiser who advocates war with America — cannot buy into the claim that the military was unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. In a recorded interview, he remarked that bin Laden being in Abbottabad unknown to authorities “is a bit amazing”. Aside from the military, he said “there is the local police, the Intelligence Bureau, the Military Intelligence, the ISI — they all had a presence there”. Pakistanis familiar with the intrusive nature of the multiple intelligence agencies will surely agree; to sniff out foreigners is a pushover.

So why was bin Laden sheltered in the army’s backyard? General Pervez Musharraf, who was army chief when bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad was being constructed in 2005, unwittingly gives us the clearest and most cogent explanation. The back cover of his celebrated book, In The Line Of Fire, written in 2006, reads:

“Since shortly after 9/11 — when many al Qaeda leaders fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan — we have played multiple games of cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing but we have caught many, many others. We have captured 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Here, I will tell the story of just a few of the most significant manhunts”.

So, at the end of the day, it was precisely that: A cat and mouse game. Bin Laden was the ‘Golden Goose’ that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose. Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the Goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions. While bin Laden in virtual captivity had little operational value for al Qaeda, he still had enormous iconic value for the Americans. It was therefore expected that kudos would come just as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Kuwaiti-born senior al Qaeda leader who was arrested in Rawalpindi, or Mullah Baradar, the Taliban leader arrested from Karachi.

Events, however, have turned a potential asset into a serious liability. Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. To appear joyful would infuriate the Islamists who are already fighting the state. On the other hand, to deprecate the killing would suggest that Pakistan had knowingly hosted the king of terrorists.

Now, with bin Laden gone, the military has two remaining major strategic assets: America’s weakness in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. But moving these chess pieces around will not assure the peace and prosperity that we so desperately need. They will not solve our electricity or water crises, move us out of dire economic straits, or protect us from suicide bombers.

Bin Laden’s death should be regarded as a transformational moment by Pakistan and its military. It is time to dispense with the Musharraf-era cat and mouse games. We must repudiate the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism — and actually fighting it in some places — but secretly supporting it in other places. Until the establishment firmly resolves that it shall not support armed and violent non-state actors of any persuasion — including the Lashkar-e-Taiba — Pakistan will remain in interminable conflict both with itself and with the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2011.

To read complete article : The Express Tribune

Still a long way to go….

by Omar Ali

There can be no doubt that hardcore salafist jihadism (which is the kind of jihadism promoted by alqaeda and its affiliated groups) is not compatible with “normal” life in the modern world. This is not due to the effects of some brilliant US policy or propaganda; it was incompatible even when the CIA and Saudi Arabia and ISI were working together to use it against the soviets in Afghanistan (which is why there has been no peace in Afghanistan since that glorious jihad “succeeded” in 1992). The CIA of course couldn’t care less and simply wrapped up their operation, gave medals to Imam Wilson and left the region to their proteges in the ISI. Saudi Arabia took a little longer to wake up, but by the time Mullah Omar was pouring a jug of cold water on some Saudi prince in Kandahar, their official romance with this project was over. … and …, thanks to their education in National Defence College, proved stupider than their paymasters in Saudi Arabia and their trainers in the CIA and were trying to save some jihadis for their own use until very recently (maybe still trying in North Waziristan, but that game is going to be up soon). So maybe the real question is not how it is now marginalized but how it ever became so powerful? On the other hand, this piece by Fareed Zakaria has more than whiff of Tom Friedman about it, which can never be good. Salafist jihadism is about to lose its last state sponsors, but as a terrorist movement it has many many years left to run. And the various underlying issues that were used by the salafists as recruiting tools have not gone away (Israeli occupation, corruption, injustice, a dozen different ethnic and religious clashes in different places, the question of mosque and state in Islam) and will continue in other forms. Still, I agree that the salafist jihadi wave has crested and outside of afghanistan, pakistan, somalia and yemen, its pretty much confined to the distant fringes of real politics and struggles. Unfortunately, in these countries there is still a long way to go….

Courtesy: crdp@yahoogroups.com, Feb 16, 2010