|June 14, 2002||atimes.com|
Al-Qaeda: An inspiration for terror
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - When Abdullah al-Muhajir, a Muslim convert, was arrested in the United States last month after his return from Pakistan on suspicion of plotting to set off a radiological "dirty" bomb in the US, much was made of his supposed links to al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
As a result, Pakistani security agents launched a new round of arrests of al-Qaeda suspects or anyone suspected of terror activities inspired by the al-Qaeda desire to destroy the US and its interests all over the world.
The net of the latest operation has been cast from Karak in North West Frontier province to Karachi, and according to highly privileged information, about 50 Arab women and children and two men, who had taken refuge in the house of a cleric in Karak after the Taliban were routed, have been detained. The arrests involved agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.
At the same time, another Muslim convert, Mohammed Banjuman, whose nationality is not clear, was seized in Lahore. He is said to be an accomplice of Abdullah al-Muhaji.
In addition to these arrests, law-enforcement agencies have rounded up more than 100 people from different militant groups. These people have never been suspected of being a part of al-Qaeda, but are known to harbor similar notions of terrorism.
This has become an increasing international trend since the United States began its attacks on Afghanistan more than seven months ago. Many individuals or religious organizations that previously had limited aims have embraced al-Qaeda theories on terrorism - or more precisely, have begun to target the US and its interests.
In Pakistan, for instance, the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (notorious for its sectarian killings against Shi'ite Muslims) expanded the scope of its targets. The murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan is a case in point. The manner in which messages about his initial capture were spread and the gruesome video of his death being sent to a US consulate forced investigators to think that al-Qaeda was involved. In fact, it emerged that people associated with the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi were involved in the kidnapping and murder.
The little-known organization al-Saiq is another example. This organization declared Pakistan darul harb (enemy country) after it gave its support to the US attacks on Afghanistan, and the group declared war against the Pakistani establishment. It has now accepted responsibility for a number of attacks on Pakistani rangers and frontier constabulary. Intelligence sources say that the group comprises some ethnic Pasthuns from the Pakistani tribal belt.
Although they have no direct links with al-Qaeda, al-Saiq are clearly inspired by them, as can be seen by their modus operandi, which is similar to that espoused by the Egyptian al-Jehad of Aiman al-Zawari, the second in command of al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden. Some years ago al-Jehad declared Egypt an enemy state (because of its accord with Israel), and promptly assassinated president Anwar Sadat. Al-Saiq has similarly issued a death warrant on Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, which has been widely distributed in the media.
There are new reports almost daily of Muslim converts from countries such as the US, Australia, France, Germany and Britain becoming involved in terrorism acts against the United States. This has caused some bemusement in the West, but in fact the roots can be traced to US policy makers.
In the 1980s the US, in support of its proxy war against the Soviet Union being fought in the mountains of Afghanistan, created the romantic image of the mujahideen as glorious freedom fighters. Afghan warlords such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (whom US forces are now hunting as the opportunist warlord that he is) and the late Ahmed Shah Masoud were projected as heroes of the Afghan liberation movement. People who embraced Islam in those days to join the cause were hailed as highly virtuous in the US media. Singer Cat Stevens - now known as Yusuf Islam - embraced Islam and journeyed to Afghanistan as a part of the US-sponsored jihad. He subsequently fought in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
This trend is now being followed by hundreds of others - the difference being, of course, that their new jihad is inspired by al-Qaeda and directed against the US. Many of them are Muslim converts of old recently fired up, such as Abdullah al-Muhajir, while others are new converts, such as "shoe bomber" Richard Reed.
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