Al-Qaeda strikes at anti-Taliban
spies By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - There was no doubt in the
Pakistani intelligence community when Taliban
commander Mullah Dadullah was killed in
Afghanistan last weekend by US-led forces that
retaliatory action would be taken against
They did not
have to wait long. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber
reportedly carrying a warning for "spies for
America" blew up patrons of a hotel in the
northern city of Peshawar, near the
Afghan border, killing at
least 25 people.
The choice of the Marhaba
Hotel was significant. It was owned by an Uzbek
named Sadaruddin, a close relative of anti-Taliban
leader General Abdul Rasheed Dostum.
Initial media reports said that shortly
before Dadullah's death, one of his sons had been
arrested at the hotel by police accompanied by an
official of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) after being fingered by the owner.
However, Asia Times Online has learned
that the security forces deny any such arrest.
Instead, they hint that an important lead was
discovered at the hotel, "but it was not his
[Dadullah's] son". Days later, Dadullah died in a
firefight with US and Afghan troops in a remote
part of Helmand province.
The owner of the
hotel and several of his sons died along with the
mostly Afghan citizens in Tuesday's attack. A
message was found taped to the severed leg of the
bomber that all spies for the US would meet the
same fate as those killed.
obtained by Asia Times Online indicates that the
suicide bomber was briefed and dispatched from a
camp in Afghanistan by al-Qaeda's best trainer,
Abu Laith al-Libby. Libby is obsessed with rooting
out US spies from within the ranks of Pakistan's
Libby is a
hardened fighter of Libyan origin who has trained
Afghans in the operation of missiles and rockets.
He has previously operated in Afghanistan, but the
death of Dadullah has turned his attention to the
Pakistan-based US proxy network of informers.
After September 11, 2001, when Pakistan
signed on for the US-led "war on terror", many
anti-Taliban officials were recruited and remain
active in passing on information for monetary
reward, and even trips to the United States as
guests of the State Department.
after the blast in Peshawar, a red alert was
declared in the already violence-hit southern port
city of Karachi, which has been the epicenter of
anti-al-Qaeda operations in the past. Several
police officials are known to have coordinated,
unofficially, with FBI cells.
Most of the
al-Qaeda members arrested over the past six years
have been taken in Karachi, and mostly after
information was received from within the ranks of
the police. These officials act independently of
The trend was common
across the country and at one stage the government
put its foot down. Police officials were warned
that if any of them went on the US State
Department program without prior permission,
strict disciplinary action would be taken.
Nevertheless, elements in the police and
their proxy networks are still the main source of
information in the "war on terror" campaign in
Pakistan, and the next showdown is likely to be
between these networks and al-Qaeda.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia
Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be
reached at[email protected]