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WASHINGTON – Pakistan will formally protest a new federal counterterrorism
measure to intensify screening of Pakistani travelers entering the U.S. at
major airports across the country, a top Pakistani diplomat said yesterday.
The Department of Homeland Security has ordered immigration inspectors at
six of the nation’s busiest airports, including Washington Dulles
International, to check all passengers of Pakistani descent – including naturalized U.S. citizens – for minor wounds possibly received while
training at terrorist camps in Pakistan.
U.S. authorities fear Pakistanis trained at such camps are determined to
carry out terrorist activities in the U.S. before the November elections.
News of the increased scrutiny, first reported Monday by
WorldNetDaily, stirred the ire of Pakistani government officials, who
called it “unfair” and “damaging” to U.S.-Pakistani relations. Publicly,
President Bush has praised Pakistan as a “key ally” in the war on
Mohammad Sadiq, deputy chief of mission at the Pakistani Embassy in
Washington, says he’s been directed by Islamabad to lodge a complaint with
the State Department. He complained that Islamabad was not told of the
special operation singling out Pakistanis.
“We will be formally protesting to the U.S. administration on this at a very
high level, because we think this is unfair treatment of Pakistani
nationals,” Sadiq said in a WorldNetDaily interview.
“There were no Pakistanis among the hijackers of 9-11,” he added. “And
Pakistanis in this country are law-abiding citizens. They have not given any
reason to Homeland Security or any department to treat them so harshly.”
The new action is detailed in a closely held two-page bulletin circulated
among U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at major airports.
WorldNetDaily obtained a copy of the official bulletin. Citing recent
terrorist activities in other parts of the world, it warns 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.”
The FBI recently issued a be-on-the-lookout alert for a Pakistani woman,
Aafia Siddiqui, who it suspects may be an al-Qaida “facilitator” for U.S.
operations. Authorities say the U.S.-educated Siddiqui returned to Pakistan
shortly after 9-11 with her husband. The FBI is also seeking an American
Muslim convert, Adam Gadahn,
who is allegedly connected to al-Qaida. Authorities say Gadahn traveled to
Pakistan to train at al-Qaida camps following his conversion.
Although most of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, one of them met
with 9-11 plot mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Karachi, Pakistan,
before the attacks. Mohammed, along with senior al-Qaida operatives Abu
Zubaydah and Ramzi Binalshibh, were captured in Pakistan after 9-11. In
addition, funds left over from the 9-11 operation were withdrawn in Karachi,
according to the FBI.
Suspected al-Qaida and Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo include 82
Pakistanis, the third largest nationality represented at the prison behind
Saudis and Yemenis.
More recently, a group of young Americans convicted in Virginia on
terror-related charges made trips to Pakistan to train and participate in
Sadiq maintains the security alert is “based on misinformation.” He denies
the existence of terrorist training camps in Pakistan, including along the
“There are no terrorist camps in Pakistan,” he insisted.
“Point them out if they know there are training camps,” Sadiq challenged the
administration. “If we have training camps, then we should not be allies of
the United States, should we?”
Just three days before federal authorities issued the politically sensitive
June 17 internal warning on Pakistani travelers, Vice President Dick Cheney
praised Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terrorism during a speech in
Sadiq noted: “If we are an ally, and President Bush and everyone else in the
administration is saying that we are doing a wonderful job there in curbing
terrorism, then there definitely is some disconnect between these
departments (Homeland Security and Justice) and the rest of the
The June 17 bulletin suggests recent Pakistani raids near the Afghan border
have yielded evidence of terrorist training.
“Recent police raids and military operations in Pakistan also document the
terrorist-related threat posed by individuals traveling to train at
terrorist camps in Pakistan,” the internal document said. “It is reasonable
to expect that many of the individuals trained in the Pakistani camps are
destined to commit illegal activities in the United States.”
The bulletin lists “any travel to the area known as Waziristan, Pakistan,”
as one of several red flags airport inspectors should look for when
processing Pakistani passengers. Waziristan, a tribal area along the Afghan
border, is known as an al-Qaida hotbed.
“This area is generally void of activity other than narcotics smuggling and
terrorist training [and] recruitment,” according to the bulletin.
Still, Sadiq insists there are no terrorist training camps in Waziristan,
“In Waziristan, the Pakistani army is taking action against foreigners.
There are no camps as such,” he said. “There are people who were hiding
there. There are just people who were hiding there.”
U.S. intelligence believes Osama bin Laden and members of his inner circle,
including al-Qaida’s No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, escaped to the Pakistani
badlands in December 2001 from Afghanistan. It wasn’t until last year,
however, that Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf ordered his troops
into the tribal region to hunt for the al-Qaida leaders. U.S. officials say
results so far have been disappointing. Nearly three years after ordering
the attacks on the U.S., bin Laden and his No. 2 are believed to be still at
large in the border region, and both leaders are still able to have tapes
delivered to Arab media from there.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan recently criticized the Pakistani
military for not doing enough to capture or kill al-Qaida fugitives inside
Pakistan’s sovereign territory.
“The Pakistani army should do more to put an end to this threat in this part
of the world because we clearly know it is there,” Lt. Gen. David W. Barno
recently was quoted as saying.
Sadiq, however, praised the efforts of the Pakistani army.
“The Pakistani army has taken casualties fighting terrorists there,” he
noted. “In fact, we have taken more casualties than the entire U.S. forces
in Afghanistan fighting against terrorism there.”
Musharraf has barred U.S. forces based in Afghanistan from crossing the
border to help Pakistani forces hunt for bin Laden – or even counterattack
marauding al-Qaida forces.
In fact, “politics associated with the border have complicated an effective
lethal response to the rocket fire” against American forces in Afghanistan
launched from al-Qaida and Taliban fighters on the Pakistani side of the
border, according to an after-action review authored last year by Army Lt.
Col. Robert Chamberlain. He said the local command on the Afghan side had
gathered “irrefutable, easily understood evidence of the violations for use
in addressing the Pakistani government.”
Asked about the ban on American forces in Pakistan, Sadiq became testy and
suggested the Pentagon doesn’t want U.S. troops to join the hunt for
al-Qaida leaders on the other side of the border for fear they would be
stretched too thin.
“U.S. troops are based in Afghanistan. Do they want to come to Pakistan to
fight the terrorists? Huh? Yeah, I think it is better you check with them.
Better check with the U.S. troops or the DOD (Department of Defense). Just
better you check with them, you know,” he said. “Because Afghanistan’s
territory is larger than Iraq, and there are only 10,000 American troops
there” compared with some 140,000 in Iraq.
Sadiq says Musharraf has posted about 70,000 Pakistani troops on the Afghan
President Bush wants Congress to reward the Musharraf government with a
five-year, $3 billion assistance package. He has already lifted economic and
some military sanctions on his regime, which took power in a military coup.
of India article citing WND?s scoop says Islamabad is playing a double
game with Washington.
“Their military-dominated government patronized terrorism right up to 9-11
when it changed course in the face of U.S. anger,” the June 30
article said. “Almost every major terrorist strike in the 1990s
originated from Pakistan.”
Indeed, the 9-11 Commission found that the Pakistani government husbanded
the Taliban and al-Qaida before 9-11, and it said one former senior official
even tipped off the head of the Taliban about planned U.S. military strikes.
Also, Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies reportedly coordinated
terrorist recruiting and training efforts with al-Qaida. A senior 9-11
Commission staff member told the Los Angeles Times the Pakistanis were in
with the Taliban and al-Qaida “up to their eyeballs.”
The whole Taliban movement was born in Karachi, where strict Islamic schools
called madrassas churn out anti-American extremists.
The Indian article went on to say the Pakistani government, particularly its
military intelligence service, “has never been called to account” by the
Bush administration for its role in cultivating terrorism.
Sadiq also decried the increased scrutiny of Pakistanis as racist.
“The treatment of Pakistanis at the airport is already very, very bad, and
the administration is aware of it,” he complained. “And now it will get even
worse, so that does not improve the U.S. image in Pakistan,” where a recent
Pew Research Center poll found that 65 percent of Pakistanis favor the
anti-American views of bin Laden.
But Michelle Malkin, author of the bestseller “Invasion: How America Still
Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, And Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores,”
praised the U.S. move as “exactly the kind of
vigilant security measures” the government should be undertaking to win
the war on terror. She says immigration and transportation authorities in
Washington have been too racially sensitive when it comes to protecting the
American homeland from the foreign Islamic threat.