WRITE for ATol ADVERTISE MEDIA KIT GET ATol BY EMAIL ABOUT ATol CONTACT US
WSI
Asia Time Online - Daily News
             
Asia Times Chinese
AT Chinese



    South Asia
     Jul 16, 2005
How London brought terror on itself
By B Raman

That three of the suspected perpetrators of the bomb attacks on London on July 7 were British youths of Pakistani origin should not only have been no surprise to British intelligence, it should have been anticipated: the radicalization of Britain's Muslim youth of Pakistani origin began in the mid-1990s with the full knowledge and complicity of British and US intelligence agencies.

In the mid-1990s, the Pakistan-based jihadi group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM - previously known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar, HUA ) sent a contingent to help Bosnian Muslims in their fight against the Serbs. They were sent by the government of Benazir Bhutto at the request of the Bill Clinton administration. The contingent, which was raised and trained by Lieutenant General (retired) Hamid Gul, former director general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who himself used to visit Bosnia, included a large number of British Muslims of Pakistani origin.

According to estimates, about 200 Muslims of Pakistani origin living in the United Kingdom went to Pakistan, received training in the camps of the HUA, and joined the HUA in Bosnia with the blessings of London and Washington. Among them was Omar Sheikh, who went on to mastermind the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

A decade before Bosnia, the CIA had raised and funded a large corps of jihadis of Arab origin - including Osama bin-Laden - to help the Afghan mujahideen in their jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

By the time of the Serbian crisis, these Arabs of Afghanistan vintage had already started creating mayhem beyond Afghanistan, notably in Indian-held Kashmir, so Western intelligence wanted to avoid the use of Arabs in Bosnia. They turned to Pakistanis, particularly Pakistanis living in Britain and other countries in Western Europe. Thus began the radicalization process of Muslim youth of Pakistani origin in western Europe.

Links to Pakistan
The first three of four people believed to have carried out the four London attacks have been named.
Shehzad Tanweer. Aged 20 to 22, lived in Leeds. Believed to have blown himself up on a subway train near Aldgate station. He sometimes worked at his family's fish and chip shop in a suburb of Leeds. Described as a good student who played cricket for a local team. Reportedly went to Lawnswood school in Beeston, before studying sports science at Leeds University. He did not have a regular job. According to the Guardian, he recently travelled to Pakistan. His father, Mohammed Mumtaz, was originally from the Faisalabad region of Pakistani Punjab.

Mohammed Sadique Khan. Aged 30, from Dewsbury, a town about 14 kilometres from Leeds. Believed to be responsible for the explosion in a subway train at Edgware Road station. He was married to a Muslim woman from Gujarat in India, whose family had migrated to South Africa and then to the UK. He met her while the two were students at Leeds University.

Hasib Hussain. Aged 19, also from Leeds. Believed to have blown himself up on the number 30 double-decker bus near Tavistock Square. According to The Times, he had gone "a bit wild" as a young teenager, but had become devoutly religious about 18 months ago after returning from a trip to Pakistan to visit his relatives. He lived with his Pakistani-born factory-worker parents. He studied at the Matthew Murray High School and never went to university.

Questions are already being asked whether any of these suspects had previously come to the notice of the British police. There is some confusion. British Home Secretary Charles Clarke strongly denied a reported statement by French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy that he (Clarke) had told a Europran Union counter-terrorism meeting on July 13 that some of the bombers had been arrested last year by British police.

Following this denial, Sarkozy clarified that he did not say that Clarke had said this, but he had only said that he (Sarkozy) had heard that some of them had been arrested last year. According to the BBC, Shehzad Tanweer was arrested by the local police in 2004 for disorderly conduct and cautioned. Hasib Hussain, reportedly a good friend of Shehzad Tanweer, was arrested in 2004 for shoplifting and released after a caution.

After the naming of the three above, a fourth suspect was named: Jamaican-born Lindsey Germaine, who lived in Buckinghamshire.

Shadows of Daniel Pearl
This development recalls the case of Daniel Pearl, the American Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and then killed by members of the HUM and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in January-February, 2002.

Pearl's murder was orchestrated by Omar Sheikh, a British citizen of Pakistani origin who had studied at the London School of Economics before joining the HUA to go to Bosnia.

Omar then infiltrated into India and participated in some acts of terrorism, for which he was arrested and jailed by Indian authorities. In December 1999 he was released in a deal following the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Afghainstan by the HUM. From Kandahar, Omar crossed to Pakistan, joined al-Qaeda and opened its office in Lahore.

In the beginning of 2002, meanwhile, Pearl had heard that the instructions to Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, whose father was a British resident of Caribbean origin, to carry out his terrorist strike had come from an unidentified source in Karachi belonging to an organization called the Jamaat-ul-Fuqra (JUF), based in Lahore. Its leader, Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, had four wives, two of them African-Americans.

The JUF differed from other Pakistani jihadi organizations in some respects. It focused its activities on Muslim communities in the US, Canada and the Caribbean and its membership consisted largely of blacks recruited in the US, Canada and the Caribbean. It laid emphasis on the need to penetrate the armed forces of the US and the Caribbean by recruiting blacks serving in them. It was a highly secretive organization and not much was known about its leaders other than Gilani. It never issued any statements and never circulated any pamphlets or ran any websites.

It became a jihadi organization of major concern to the intelligence agencies of the US and Canada after its members in the US were involved in a series of attacks on Hindu and Jewish targets and its supporters in the armed forces of the Caribbean almost successfully staged a coup to captured power in the late 1980s.

In 1995, the HUA also started focusing on the black community in the US. It recruited nearly a dozen blacks there and brought them to Pakistan for jihadi training in its camps, and sent them back to the US. While the HUA and the JUF kept away from each other in Pakistan, they cooperated in the US and built up a network of sleeper cells. The HUA did not show much interest in the Caribbean and left that area to the JUF.

While it has been established that the HUM and the HUJI had a leading role in the kidnapping and murder of Pearl, it is not clear whether the JUF had any role. Omar has been sentenced to death by a lower court but an appeal is pending in a higher court. On July 14, the hearing was adjourned for the 32nd time.

Reports from Pakistan indicate that Omar continues to be active from jail, reportedly keeping in touch with friends and followers in the UK. Statements purported to have been issued by him from jail calling on the Muslims of the world to retaliate against the US for descecration of the Holy Koran are disseminated every Friday in many Pakistani mosques controlled by jihadi organizations.

In the meanwhile, unhindered by Pakistani authorities, the JUF continues to recruit volunteers from the US and the Caribbean, take them to Pakistan and train them in its camps before they are returned to their places of origin.

On June 20, 2003, before the arrival of Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf in the US for his Camp David meeting with President George W Bush, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials disclosed that they had arrested one Lyman Faris, also known as Mohammad Rauf, originally a resident of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. He had migrated to the US in 1994 and was working as a truck driver in Ohio before being arrested and charged with having links to al-Qaeda and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, said to be Osama bin Laden's operations chief, who is believed to have coordinated the September 11, 2001 attacks.

According to FBI officials, as quoted in the US media, Faris visited Afghanistan and Pakistan a number of times between 2000 and 2002, met bin Laden and worked with Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in organizing and financing jihad causes. After returning to the US from Pakistan in late 2002, officials said, he began examining the Brooklyn Bridge and discussing via coded messages with al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan ways of using blow torches to sever its suspension cables. He is also believed to have been associated in the past with the JUF.

Reports on the investigation into the London blasts so far point the finger of suspicion at the Kashmir separatist group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the JUF (many Pakistanis who have migrated to the UK are Punjabi-speaking Mirpuris from Pakistan-administered Kashmir). Pakistani sources say that while Shehzad Tanweer, one of the suspected bombers, was trained in two LET camps at Muridke, near Lahore, and in Karachi, Lindsey Germaine had a history of association with the JUF.

B Raman is additional secretary (retired), cabinet secretariat, government of India, New Delhi, and, presently, director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai and distinguished fellow and convener, Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter. Email: itschen36@gmail.com

(Copyright 2005 B Raman)


War comes to the heart of Europe
(Jul 15, '05)

Dealing with 'moderate' Islam
(Jul 15, '05)

 
 



All material on this website is copyright and may not be republished in any form without written permission.
Copyright 1999 - 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd.
Head Office: Rm 202, Hau Fook Mansion, No. 8 Hau Fook St., Kowloon, Hong Kong
Thailand Bureau: 11/13 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan, Thailand 77110