US sting draws barbs from Pakistan
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2004 07:27:37 AM ]
WASHINGTON: Misunderstandings have arisen between the US and Pakistan in the war on terrorism.
Islamabad is unhappy over the premature disclosure by Washington of the identity of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, an al Qaida operative who Pakistan was using as a live bait to track down other terrorists.
Pakistan is also all steamed up about the FBI using it’s envoy to the UN as a bait in a sting operation to entrap suspected terrorists in New York.
In the case of Khan, a Pakistani computer expert who was captured last week, Islamabad says he was sending out e-mail to other al Qaida operatives all over the world at the behest of Pakistani intelligence when his name was disclosed first by the New York Times after background briefings by US administration officials. That effective dried up all communications between Khan and other operatives.
Pakistani officials are also suggesting that they might have gotten to Osama bin Laden himself if Washington had not blabbed.
But US officials are bristling at the suggestions that they jeopardized the war on terrorism, saying it was important to alert the public about information gleaned from Khan.
Some US officials have suggested privately that Khan may be a Pakistani double agent.
Meanwhile, Islamabad has also protested against an FBI sting operation involving a fake plot to kill the Pakistani envoy to the UN. An FBI undercover agent posing as a militant wanting to kill the envoy got two mosque leaders in New York interested in a missile buying operation.
Pakistani officials called the operation "bizarre and mind- boggling" and said it needlessly endangered the life of its envoy.
Two “sting” operations raise disturbing questions about US terror alert
By Bill Van Auken
11 August 2004
The major sting operation centered on the figure of Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, the 25-year-old computer expert arrested by Pakistani security forces in Lahore last month. On August 1, top Bush administration officials released his name, claiming that he was the principal source of the information that led to last week’s raising of the terror alert level from yellow to orange in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Newark, New Jersey. The officials described his computer as a “treasure trove” of data on Al Qaeda’s operations and potential US targets of terrorist attacks.
It was subsequently revealed that information on the computer pointing to the surveillance of financial institutions in the US was several years old, predating the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, and that there was no intelligence pointing to any imminent threat or terrorist plot.
The media lavished coverage on official government warnings and unsubstantiated claims given by unidentified intelligence officials that other undisclosed intelligence pointed to a pending attack. While helping to stoke an atmosphere of hysteria, the major news outlets largely ignored what was undoubtedly the most substantive story to come out of the official fear campaign and police-state security measures mounted by Washington.
Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, whose name the White House first leaked to the New York Times, was at the time working for Pakistani intelligence as a covert agent. After his capture, he agreed to continue functioning as a key communications link between far-flung Al Qaeda operatives. Using encrypted e-mail, he was luring senior Al Qaeda officials into the open so that they could be arrested by Pakistani, US and British intelligence agents.
By publicizing his name, the Bush administration exposed the secret anti-terrorist operation. Pakistani government officials reported Tuesday that the disclosure of Khan’s month-old arrest had alerted Al Qaeda to the sting and allowed several top figures in the organization to escape.
“Let me say that this intelligence leak jeopardized our plan and some Al Qaeda suspects ran away,” a senior Pakistani official told the Associated Press. Describing the publication of Khan’s name as “very disturbing,” the official said that “coalition partners” should investigate how “classified information” about Khan’s arrest was published in the US press.
British intelligence officials were also reportedly furious over the White House leak. The disclosure of Khan’s name forced them to terminate an ongoing investigation of alleged Al Qaeda suspects in England with whom Khan was in communication, and hastily organize their arrests. According to press reports, five suspects eluded capture after the operation was blown, and British officials fear they may not have enough evidence to hold 13 who were rounded up.
Writing an opinion column in the Observer, British Home Secretary David Blunkett criticized Washington’s handling of its terror alerts in remarkably caustic and blunt terms. Citing media complaints in Britain “that we don’t say enough...we don’t sufficiently raise the profile, and therefore the concern about terrorism,” Blunkett issued a stinging indictment of the Bush administration’s attempts to terrorize the American public.
“[I]n the United States there is often high-profile comment followed, as in the most current case, by detailed scrutiny, with the potential risk of inviting ridicule,” he wrote.
He continued: “Is that really the job of a senior cabinet minister in charge of counter-terrorism? To feed the media? To increase concern? To have something to say, whatever it is, in order to satisfy the insatiable desire to hear somebody saying something. Of course not. This is arrant nonsense.”
Terror scare paves way for police-state measures
By the Editorial Board
5 August 2004
It is instructive to review the events of the past month. On July 8, Ridge held a bizarre news conference in which he declared that an Al Qaeda attack aimed at “disrupting the democratic process” was in “the operational stage.” As usual, Ridge presented no evidence to substantiate this claim. Notwithstanding the lurid content of his warnings, he declined to raise the terror alert from yellow to orange.
The media adopted a largely skeptical attitude toward Ridge’s announcement. Three days later, Newsweek magazine reported that Homeland Security and Justice Department officials were discussing the legal basis for canceling the elections. The response of the major news outlets was to downplay the story and denounce those who raised the obvious dictatorial implications of such discussions, while cautioning the administration against any attempt to close down the election. Later that month, the House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution opposing any postponement or cancellation of the November election.
With this latest terror warning, the administration has upped the ante, concocting an even more shocking threat and implementing sweeping police-state measures in New York, New Jersey and Washington.
Anyone who denies that the Bush administration is capable of using the threat of terrorism to manipulate, and even cancel, the November election—such as Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman, who declared such suspicions “madness”—is himself ignoring the plain facts. What, after all, was the invasion of Iraq, but a cynical and calculated use of the terrorist threat, employing outright lies, to drag the country into war?
Ridge himself used his Sunday announcement to campaign for Bush’s reelection, declaring that the intelligence ostensibly prompting the terror alert was obtained only because of “the President’s leadership in the war against terror.” On Tuesday, at a press conference held at the Citicorp Center in Manhattan, Ridge once against raised the specter of a terror attack aimed at disrupting the elections.
The Bush administration is a criminal government, whose leading personnel, from Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on down, have no allegiance to democratic procedures. They are prepared to say and do anything to hold onto power.
Al Qaeda plans include assassination plot - report
Wed 11 August, 2004 05:43
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A high-profile political assassination, triggered by a new message from Osama bin Laden, will lead off the next major al Qaeda attack, The Washington Times has reported, citing U.S. intelligence officials.
U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports, speaking on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the assassination plan was among new details of al Qaeda plots and would target a U.S. or foreign leader either in the United States or abroad, according to the newspaper's Wednesday editions.
Planning for the attacks to follow involves "multiple targets in multiple venues" across the United States, one official was quoted as saying.
"The goal of the next attack is twofold: to damage the U.S. economy and to undermine the U.S. election," the official told the newspaper.
The officials said there are intelligence reports, some of them sketchy, that a new tape from bin Laden would surface soon, the newspaper reported.
"The message likely will be the signal for the attack to be launched," one official said.
A second U.S. official was cited as saying that one intelligence agency was aware of unconfirmed reports of a new bin Laden tape.
"There may be such a tape, but it hasn't surfaced and we haven't seen it," the newspaper quoted the official as saying.
The Washington Times reported that the plot was among detailed al Qaeda plans found on a laptop computer belonging to captured al Qaeda suspect Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan.
Information from Khan, a computer expert, prompted the United States to issue a new security alert for financial institutions in Washington, New York and New Jersey and led to the arrest of a dozen al Qaeda suspects in Britain.
Khan's capture was part of a Pakistani crackdown, which began a month ago and has dealt al Qaeda a major blow.