It´s Pakistan, Stupid! (FrontPageMagazine.com) By Paul Sperry 05/06/05)
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Law enforcement has a term for the period after a crisis when things
revert to norm -- condition white. Well, the American people are
just about there, three-and-a-half years after the 9/11 attacks.
But as the media obsess over Michael Jackson´s favorite lubricants
and Paula Abdul´s dalliances with idol wannabes, al-Qaida is "very
active" recruiting and planning to attack the United States
again. "As months and years pass," Vice President Dick Cheney
warns, "they are hoping that our country will grow complacent" and
forget the horror of 9/11. And they´re getting their wish, judging
from the picayune issues that are catching the nation´s attention
Cheney echoed President Bush´s own warning a few days earlier to
resist the urge to lower our guard. "One of my concerns after
September the 11th is the farther away we got from September the
11th, the more relaxed we would all become and assume that there
wasn´t an enemy out there ready to hit us," Bush asserted.
Do they know something we don´t? Short answer: yes.
Behind the scenes, homeland security officials are wringing their
hands over intelligence indicating al-Qaida is preparing to attack
major American cities, including Washington, using Pakistani
nationals and possibly Pakistani-Americans.
Internal Department of Homeland Security documents I´ve obtained
show officials fear Pakistan-based al-Qaida may be sending
terrorists our way, including ones trained in terror camps up and
running inside Pakistan -- that´s right, Pakistan. The terror-
training camps we shut down in Afghanistan are now open for business
on the other side of the border, despite Islamabad´s apparent
efforts to crack down on them.
According to the closely held intelligence bulletins, officials
worry Pakistanis trained in the camps are trying to sneak into
America to carry out terrorist attacks. In fact, U.S. border
authorities are reminded each day in shift musters that Pakistanis
pose the No. 1 terrorist threat to America right now. And for the
past several months, they have been under orders to increase
scrutiny of travelers of Pakistani origin.
The latest advisory puts authorities on high alert for Pakistani
terrorists trying to enter the U.S. with fake British passports.
"A number of Pakistani-based young men in their 20´s may be
traveling to the U.S. with altered United Kingdom passports in order
to engage in terrorist-related activity," says the highly sensitive
DHS action memo.
"Of most interest may be individuals fitting this description
traveling to Washington D.C., Houston, Chicago or New York."
The FBI says al-Qaida leaders -- many of whom are believed to be
hiding in Pakistan, as evidenced most recently by the capture there
of senior operative Abu Farraj al-Libbi -- have discussed plans for
a 9/11-type attack in which hijackers would board planes in Britain
so they wouldn´t have to use U.S. visas. Customs inspectors are
questioning all male Pakistani travelers between the ages of 18 and
35 bearing British passports, as part of the latest DHS directive
known as Intelligence Driven Special Operation #2005-07.
Even Pakistani-Americans have been subjected to special screening.
Fearing some may be returning from terrorist camps in their
ancestral homeland, customs officials have been directed to not only
question them about their trip and activities but to also search
their arms and legs for signs of having had terrorist training.
They´ve been told to look for anything from rope burns to bruises to
possible injuries suffered from using firearms or explosives. The
body searches stopped after the Pakistani Embassy complained, but
they are still being asked a battery of questions.
"Many of the individuals trained in the Pakistani camps are destined
to commit illegal activities in the United States," says the two-
page DHS warning that launched IDSO #2004-022. (Click here to view
page one and page two, parts of which I have redacted to protect
some of the more sensitive countermeasures.)
The unusual steps show how desperate homeland security officials are
to disrupt what they believe is a major attack planned by terrorists
of Pakistani origin.
At the same time, U.S. immigration authorities are targeting
Pakistanis living illegally in America for deportation. Since 9/11,
they´ve rounded up and removed three times more Pakistani absconders
than they did during the comparable period before 9/11. DHS data
also show the number of Pakistani removals dwarfs those of illegals
from all other Muslim nations.
Pakistanis account for most of the OTMs -- other than Mexicans –
crossing the U.S. border with Mexico illegally from countries
considered high risk for terrorism. And officials fear some may try
to smuggle nuclear or radiological weapons across the porous border
Osama bin Laden, who has long sought a nuclear weapon or radioactive
materials to make a so-called dirty bomb, recently secured from a
Saudi cleric a religious ruling giving him the green light to use
nuclear weapons against Americans. He and his deputy, Ayman al-
Zawahiri, along with much of al-Qaida´s inner circle, are thought to
be hiding in Pakistan´s northern badlands. In fact, they´ve recently
used couriers to deliver video- and audio-taped messages to Al-
Jazeera TV´s bureaus in Islamabad and Karachi. And just yesterday it
was announced that one of their top operatives --al-Libbi -- was
captured in that same badlands area.
Pakistan, which husbanded al-Qaida and served as a base of
operations for the 9/11 plotters, has long been a hotbed of
terrorist activity. The war on terror started in Pakistan, and many
officials believe it will end there.
But for that to happen, they say Bush must pressure Islamabad to
shut down the terrorist camps in Pakistan, because U.S. forces can´t
do it unilaterally. Islamabad refuses to allow our troops based in
Afghanistan to cross the border into neighboring Pakistan.
After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush demanded the Taliban close
terror camps in Afghanistan. On Sept. 20, 2001, he warned: "Tonight
the United States of America makes the following demands on the
Taliban ... Close immediately and permanently every terrorist
training camp in Afghanistan."
Yet Pakistan, the cradle of the Taliban movement, gets no such
ultimatums regarding its own terror camps. Too be sure, Islamabad
cut formal ties with the Taliban after 9/11, and has vowed to crack
down on terrorists in its country. But the seeming double standard
over the camps still gripes law enforcement here.
"What gets me is while we were going after the Taliban in
Afghanistan, there were a lot of training camps in Pakistan. I mean,
there was like a ton. That was where the terrorists were getting
most of their training -- in Pakistan -- and they´re still getting
training there," says John M. Cole, who until last year worked at
FBI headquarters as program manager for foreign intelligence
investigations covering Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
While the arrest of al-Libbi was a blow to al-Qaida and a win for
our side, untold numbers of terrorists are still plotting and
training inside Pakistan -- and preparing to launch attacks against
America. Cole and others don´t understand why Washington is taking
the unnecessary risk of trying to catch the bad guys here when
Islamabad could be doing more to stop them over there -- or at least
letting our troops help stop them.
Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow and Investor´s Business
Daily veteran, is author of the just-released book, INFILTRATION:
How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington (Nelson
Current, 2005). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (©2005
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