Wednesday, June 22, 2005

fwd: Pakistani Terror Camps Scatter, Persist;

This whole episode has some strange elements to it. What it reveals about
Pakistan may be the most interesting part of it. RLC

Subject: Pakistani Terror Camps Scatter, Persist;
Date: Jun 20, 2005

> Los Angeles Times
> June 20, 2005 Monday
> Terror Camps Scatter, Persist;
> Recent arrests in Lodi, Calif., illustrate what authorities say is
> the failure of Pakistan to halt elusive militant training groups.
> by Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writer
> U.S. counter-terrorism authorities say that the detention of a Lodi,
> Calif.-based group of Pakistani men this month underscores a serious
> problem: the Islamabad government's failure to dismantle hundreds of
> jihadist training camps.
> Long before the FBI arrested Hamid Hayat and his father, Umer Hayat,
> and accused the son of attending one of the camps, law enforcement
> and intelligence officials were watching the Pakistan-based training
> sites with increasing anxiety.
> Technically, they say, the Pakistani government was probably right
> when it declared this month that the younger Hayat could not have
> received training at a "jihadist" camp near Rawalpindi since that is
> the home to Pakistan's military and its feared intelligence agency,
> Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.
> But that's because the Pakistani officials were referring to
> the "old" kind of Al Qaeda camp shown endlessly on TV, in which
> masked jihadists run around in broad daylight, detonating explosives,
> firing automatic weapons and practicing kidnappings, these officials
> say.
> Since the post-Sept. 11 military strikes on Al Qaeda strongholds in
> Pakistan's tribal territories, the jihadist training effort has
> scattered and gone underground, where it is much harder to detect and
> destroy, U.S. and Pakistani officials said in interviews.
> Instead of large and visible camps, would-be terrorists are being
> recruited, radicalized and trained in a vast system of smaller, under-
> the-radar jihadist sites.
> And the effort is no longer overseen by senior Al Qaeda operatives as
> it was in Afghanistan, but by at least three of Pakistan's largest
> militant groups, which are fueled by a shared radical fundamentalist
> Islamic ideology. The militant groups have long maintained close ties
> to Osama bin Laden and his global terrorist network, according to
> those officials and several unpublicized U.S. government reports.
> The groups themselves -- Harkat-ul-Mujahedin, or HuM; Jaish-e-
> Mohammed; and Lashkar-e-Taiba -- have officially been banned in
> Pakistan since 2002 and have been formally designated as terrorist
> organizations by the U.S. government. That has prompted occasional
> crackdowns by Islamabad, but the groups merely change their names and
> occasionally their leadership and resume operations, authorities say.
> The groups wield tremendous political influence, are well-funded and
> are said to have tens of thousands of fanatical followers, including
> a small but unknown number of Americans who have entered the system
> after first enrolling at Pakistan-based Islamic schools, or madrasas.
> U.S. officials also accuse them of complicity in many of the
> terrorist attacks against American and allied interests in Pakistan
> and other assaults in the disputed Kashmir region.
> Many U.S. officials say it's not surprising that Pakistani President
> Pervez Musharraf hasn't cracked down harder on the militant groups
> and what they describe as their increasingly extensive training
> activities.
> For years, the ISI itself has worked closely with the groups in
> training Pakistan's own network of militants to fight ongoing
> conflicts in Kashmir and elsewhere, and to protect the country's
> interests in neighboring Afghanistan. The militant groups also derive
> tremendous influence from their affiliations with increasingly
> powerful fundamentalist political parties in Pakistan.
> Until recently, the United States did not press the issue with its
> ally, believing that those trained in the Pakistani camps would be
> sent only to fight in Kashmir and other regional conflicts.
> But that's not the case anymore, according to U.S. and South Asian
> intelligence agencies.
> The U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and Bin Laden's
> campaign to forge a global jihad have caused many of the Pakistan-
> based terrorists to redirect their rage toward U.S. targets, both
> abroad and perhaps even on American soil, according to the
> intelligence cited by numerous U.S. officials and counter-terrorism
> experts.
> One of the men believed most responsible for this shift is Maulana
> Fazlur Rehman Khalil, a former leader of HuM, who has been connected
> to some of the detained men in the Lodi case.
> The group previously known as HuM is now called Jamiat-ul-Ansar, and
> Khalil continues to play an important but less public role in it,
> U.S. officials said. They also believe Khalil remains closely aligned
> with Pakistani intelligence services and senior Al Qaeda leaders.
> Khalil was one of the original signers of Bin Laden's 1998 fatwa, or
> holy decree, in which he told Muslims that it was their religious
> duty to kill Americans whenever and wherever they could. That same
> year, Khalil also vowed to attack America in retaliation for the U.S.
> bombing of two of HuM's Al Qaeda-affiliated training camps in
> Afghanistan, which killed dozens of his followers and some Pakistani
> intelligence officers.
> U.S. intelligence officials believe that over the last two years in
> particular, the three militant groups and some smaller ones have
> taken in thousands of Al Qaeda soldiers and senior operatives as well
> as Taliban officials who fled Afghanistan and Pakistan's border areas
> to escape the U.S.-Pakistani dragnet.
> During that time, the camps have also become magnets for would-be
> terrorists aspiring to commit attacks against U.S. interests, the
> American officials and other experts say. The result, they say, is
> that it has become nearly impossible to get a handle on what they
> fear is a serious and growing terrorism problem in Pakistan.
> "We once knew who the enemy was and what groups were the enemy. And
> it's become much more difficult to discern that now," said Bruce
> Hoffman, a chairman of the Rand Corp. and a counter-terrorism
> consultant to the U.S. government.
> "There is tremendous overlap, and that is the problem, between Bin
> Laden and Al Qaeda, the Pakistani authorities and the Kashmiri
> groups," said Hoffman, who has observed the Pakistani militant groups
> for decades. "The overt connections may have been broken but there
> are wheels within wheels, and who the group actually is affiliated
> with is hard to tell."
> Hoffman and several U.S. officials said the groups frequently
> splinter and re-form, but that increasingly, "it doesn't matter which
> group they join because they are all feeders to each other [and many
> have] bought in completely to Bin Laden's ideology" of waging war
> against the United States and its allies.
> In the Lodi case, the Hayats have been indicted on charges of lying
> to federal agents and are being held without bail in Sacramento
> County Jail. Their lawyers and relatives have said the two, who are
> U.S. citizens, had nothing to do with terrorism.
> Three other local men have been detained on immigration charges,
> including Muhammad Adil Khan, who some U.S. officials said was the
> original subject of the long-standing investigation because of his
> suspected ties to Pakistan-based militant groups.
> While authorities have said little about the case publicly, a
> detailed affidavit accidentally released by the Justice Department
> goes into great detail about the younger Hayat's time spent training
> at a camp described only as Tamal on the outskirts of Rawalpindi,
> which itself is just a few miles from the Pakistani capital,
> Islamabad.
> In an affidavit, FBI Special Agent Pedro Tenoch Aguilar said that
> after the younger Hayat arrived in San Francisco on May 29 after two
> years in Pakistan, he was interviewed at length and eventually
> admitted attending "a jihadist training camp in Pakistan."
> Hayat, who was born in San Joaquin County in 1982, described to
> agents how he trained for six months in 2003 and 2004 in a camp run
> by Al Qaeda, and how he was taught paramilitary
> training, "ideological rhetoric" and "how to kill Americans."
> Hayat's father, Umer, who drives an ice cream truck in Lodi, told
> agents that on a visit to Pakistan, a relative who is connected to
> the camps arranged for him to tour several of the training
> facilities. Authorities also contend the father provided funding for
> his son's attendance at the camps.
> The federal complaint identified the head of the camp as Maulana
> Fazlur Rehman, which is the name of a Pakistan government opposition
> party member. But several U.S. officials said that most likely, the
> leader of the camp is the similarly named Maulana Fazlur Rehman
> Khalil, the longtime Bin Laden associate and former leader of HuM,
> who Pakistani authorities said has gone into hiding after news of the
> Lodi case broke.
> Despite the affidavit, the indictments returned last week against the
> two men do not actually charge them with attending the camp or with
> any terrorism-related charges, prompting speculation in the Lodi
> community that the FBI was backing away from allegations contained in
> the draft affidavit.
> The U.S. counter-terrorism officials said there were many unanswered
> questions in the Lodi case, including who -- if anyone -- intended to
> commit a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
> A senior FBI official said he could not comment on the specifics of
> the case but did say, in an interview, that the constantly shifting
> nature of jihadist training networks at various locations overseas
> had made the FBI's job exponentially harder than it was even just a
> few years ago.
> "The lines are blurred, there is a lot of crossover" between Al Qaeda
> and the other [militant] groups, he told The Times. "There is a lot
> of like-mindedness, a lot of like-minded individuals who see this as
> a means to an end and [this commonality of purpose] is what makes it
> less blurry. We have to look across group lines."
> The existence of the camps and their ties to Pakistan's militant
> organizations pose delicate diplomatic problems for the Bush
> administration.
> Publicly, the administration has praised Musharraf for his help in
> the U.S.-led fight against terrorism, particularly for helping to
> apprehend more than 700 suspected Al Qaeda members, including some of
> the group's most senior leaders.
> But privately, some U.S. officials and counter-terrorism experts say
> Musharraf has not done enough to clamp down on militant organizations
> and that his government's reliance on those groups for support has
> allowed the camps to flourish as never before.
> "The Pakistan military and intelligence [agency] are well-aligned
> with the radical fundamentalists," said a senior U.S. counter-
> terrorism official. "Musharraf, he's in [a] pickle ... he's trying to
> play it at both ends."
> The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity, given the
> sensitivity of U.S.-Pakistani counter-terrorism efforts.
> One Washington-based senior Pakistani official complained about such
> criticism.
> "We've lost more people in the war on terrorism than anybody. We've
> suffered badly in taking these people on and continue to do so," the
> official said. "So why would we play a double game?"
> The Pakistani government official conceded, however, that the
> militants are so much a part of society that it is hard to combat
> them, both logistically and politically. "If you go in guns blazing
> or bomb them from 30,000 feet, we can't do that," said the
> official. "It is so difficult to get these people."
> *
> Special correspondent Mubashir Zaidi in Islamabad contributed to this
> report.
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