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under new scrutiny
Posted By Paul Sperry On 06/28/2004 @ 5:00 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
WASHINGTON – In an unusual move, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has
ordered inspectors at America’s largest airports to examine all travelers of
Pakistani descent – including U.S. citizens – for minor injuries such as
“rope burns,” “unusual bruises” and “scars” possibly suffered while training
in terrorist camps in that ally Muslim country, according to internal U.S.
documents obtained exclusively by WorldNetDaily.
A two-page “action” bulletin, labeled “For Official Use Only,” warns that
recent intelligence gathered in Pakistan and elsewhere indicates that
individuals traveling to train at terrorist camps in Pakistan may be
planning to carry out terrorist activities within the United States between
now and the presidential election in November.
The bulletin directs agents at major international airports in New York, New
Jersey, Washington, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles to “increase scrutiny”
of passengers who are naturalized U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents
of Pakistani descent, and “who exhibit evidence of suspicious travel,
including short trips to Pakistan not related to family or business.”
The closely held bulletin, dated June 17, orders primary inspectors at the
airports to refer suspicious persons to secondary inspections areas for
further questioning. The special inspections are authorized to run at least
through late July.
“If we see any irregularities,” an immigration inspector told WND, “we
escort them to secondary for a very in-depth interview and search.”
Inspectors also have been advised to examine travelers of Pakistani descent
for physical signs that they’ve engaged in paramilitary training in
For example, “officers should look for indications the individual engaged in
rappelling activities (rope burns on arms/legs),” according to the internal
action report. In addition, it says they should look for “unusual bruises
resulting from obstacle course activities,” and “wounds” or “scars” suffered
from the discharge of firearms.
The sensitive document lists several other key clues airport inspectors
should look for to identify potential Pakistani terrorists, including
details about travel documentation. WND has decided not to disclose them for
Agents are advised to report data from the “intelligence-driven special operation” to field operations official Brian J. Humphrey, who is listed as the point of contact at Customs and Border Protection headquarters here. Customs and Border Protection is a bureau within the Department of Homeland Security.
Asked about the Pakistani terrorist camps, Humphrey declined comment.
“I really don’t have any information that I would be at liberty to discuss,”
Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jim Michie also declined comment.
“We can’t discuss any enforcement operations,” he said.
DHS spokesman Bill Strassberger said he could neither confirm nor deny the
“We can’t say anything about it,” he said.
Most, if not all, of al-Qaida’s training camps in Afghanistan have been shut
down since the 9-11 attacks. But the news of still-active terrorist training
camps in Pakistan is troubling.
After 9-11, the U.S. made the Islamic nation an ally in the war on
terrorism, even though it was one of only three nations in the world to
formally recognize the al-Qaida-sheltering Taliban regime in Afghanistan,
and even though some of the high-level 9-11 al-Qaida plotters met in the
Pakistani city of Karachi. President Bush repeatedly has praised Pakistani
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf for cracking down on terrorists in his
Even so, the U.S. security bulletin says that “recent terrorist activities
in other parts of the world document that persons of Pakistani descent are
increasingly being identified with many of these extremist activities,
including supporting [and] protecting the operations of terrorist training
camps in Pakistan.”
It adds: “Recent police raids and military operations in Pakistan also
documents the terrorist-related threat posed by individuals traveling to
train at terrorist camps in Pakistan,” specifically in the northwestern
tribal areas of Waziristan.
The bulletin goes on to say that the U.S. government believes that “many of
the individuals trained in the Pakistani camps are destined to commit
illegal activities in the United States.”
The FBI recently issued a be-on-the-lookout bulletin for a 32-year-old
Pakistani woman, Aafia Siddiqui, who it suspects may be an al-Qaida “fixer”
or facilitator. Authorities say the U.S.-educated Siddiqui returned to
Pakistan shortly after 9-11 with her husband.
In a staff statement, the 9-11 Commission earlier this month said the
Pakistani government has used camps run by al-Qaida kingpin Osama bin Laden
to train and equip fighters for Pakistan’s ongoing struggle with India over
Kashmir, a disputed mineral-rich border area.
The day before Customs released its action alert on Pakistani travelers, a
9-11 Commission expert witness on al-Qaida recommended in public testimony
that immigration inspectors start asking visitors to the U.S. if they’ve
ever been to a military training camp in South Asia.
“If I were an immigration inspector, the one thing I’d like to know is if
someone has been to a training camp,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who
has prosecuted al-Qaida cases, testified June 16. “And if they should come
in and lie, then that would give us a reason to throw them out of the
The 9-11 Commission found that all 19 of the 9-11 hijackers trained at
al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan. In addition, the so-called Millennium bomber,
Ahmed Ressam, trained at Camp Khaldan in Afghanistan near the Pakistan
border. Ressam is mentioned in the Customs bulletin.
Just three days before federal authorities released the action report on
Pakistani travelers, Vice President Dick Cheney exalted Pakistan’s efforts
in fighting terrorism.
“In Pakistan, President Musharraf became an ally of the United States, and
has provided support for our operations,” Cheney said in a June 14 speech
before the James Madison Institute in Orlando, Fla. “President Musharraf has
strongly supported and led in the war on terror.”
That said, Musharraf refuses to allow U.S. troops based in Afghanistan to
cross the border into Pakistan to hunt for 9-11 mastermind bin Laden, who
U.S. intelligence believes is hiding in that country’s northern badlands.
The 9-11 Commission found that, contrary to popular belief, bin Laden is a
hands-on leader who not only orders major attacks and picks the targets, but
also personally selects the operatives who will carry out the attacks.
Nearly two-thirds – 65 percent – of people in Pakistan hold favorable
views of bin Laden, and 85 percent approve of Musharraf, according to a
recent survey by Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project.
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge recently announced that “credible
evidence from multiple sources indicates that al-Qaida plans to attempt an
attack on the United States during” the period leading up to the November
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