The Pakistani Threat
By: Paul Sperry
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, July 29, 2005
Officials in Washington and London maintain they're shocked, shocked, that al-Qaida terrorists trained in Pakistan would attack London. Cairo says it's equally surprised about the connection, as it searches for six Pakistani terrorists behind another suspected al-Qaida attack at one of its resorts. Islamabad, for its part, insists it was totally in the dark about the homegrown plots.
It seems everyone in the intelligence community was blindsided by the Pakistan-based threat.
But internal U.S. intelligence reports tell a different story. One document I've obtained shows that officials in Washington leading the war on terror have privately agonized over Pakistan and its al-Qaida-run camps for at least the past year, directly contradicting White House praise for Islamabad's "strong cooperation" in the war.
What's more, two additional federal intelligence documents I've obtained reveal a British connection. One warns of a particularly diabolical Pakistan-based plot to attack Britain, and the other warns of a scheme by Pakistani terrorists to enter the U.S. using fake British passports. Under the Visa Waiver Program, British travelers do not need a visa, and can still get on a plane to the U.S. without first being checked against our terror watch list.
What follows is a breakdown of what U.S. officials knew about the threat from Pakistan -- which essentially has become al-Qaida's new headquarters -- and when they knew it.
On June 17, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security directed border inspectors to take part in an "intelligence driven special operation" to closely examine travelers of Pakistani origin -- including U.S. citizens -- for "rope burns," "unusual bruises," "wounds/scars" and other physical signs they had spent some time at "terrorist training camps in Pakistan," according to the "For Official Use Only" bulletin issued by headquarters. It also advised officers to look for pro-jihad literature and other evidence that the Pakistani travelers had received religious instruction at madrassas in Pakistan, many of which are hatcheries for Osama bin Laden wannabes.
The sensitive two-page action alert warned that individuals trained in the Pakistani camps "are destined" to carry out terror attacks inside the U.S. At the same time, the FBI had several Pakistani-Americans under surveillance. According to court records, they trained with hundreds of other jihadists at an al-Qaida camp near Islamabad. The FBI has so far arrested one suspected terror-camper in Lodi, California. For target practice at the camp, he and other confederates used photographs of President Bush and other prominent U.S. officials -- all under the nose of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, our trusted ally.
And back in December 2003, DHS issued another intelligence report I've obtained warning that al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan were planning to send terror cells to the U.S. and Britain to "conduct attacks." Border authorities were advised to be on the lookout for Pakistani terrorists posing as aides to disabled travelers.
"Pakistani Islamic extremists are allegedly planning to conduct attacks in the U.S. and the United Kingdom," the document says. "The operatives will accompany a disabled person and act as the disabled person's assistants." It's worth nothing here that one of the London suicide bombers of Pakistani descent taught disabled children at an elementary school.
(The two-page report, marked "Law Enforcement Sensitive," lists the contact person as Jessica Barger of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intelligence division.)
And most recently, on January 28, 2005, DHS directed border officers to take part in another intelligence-driven special operation to intercept "Pakistani-based young men in their 20's traveling to the U.S. with altered United Kingdom passports in order to engage in terrorist-related activity." The closely held two-page memo, which names CBP official Scott P. Foster as operation contact, lists Washington, Houston, Chicago and New York as the targets of the Pakistani terrorists.
In the wake of the London attacks, DHS has ordered U.S. border authorities to renew their focus on Pakistani terrorists trying to enter the U.S through the U.K.
They're asking young men of Pakistani origin a battery of questions about their travels in Pakistan, which also happens to be where the 9/11 plot was hatched. But al-Qaida has already coached their answers, according to the section of the terror network's training manual dealing with airport interrogations and Pakistani travel. Investigators confiscated a copy of the manual from an operative overseas.
Seasoned al-Qaida operatives may escape scrutiny and slip into the country despite the heightened security alert at the ports of entry.
Instead of trying to intercept Pakistani terrorists at the back door, we need to close the front door overseas. Washington should place a moratorium on new visas for immigrants from Pakistan, as well as any additional aid to that country, until Islamabad can certify that its terror camps and madrassas are permanently closed for business.
Paul Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow and Investor's Business Daily veteran, is author of the recently released book, "INFILTRATION: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington." He can be reached at email@example.com.
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