Is Osama Bin Laden In India.pdf by zhaonedx


									                                      Is Osama Bin Laden In India?

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?


      • From: Arun Bansi <arunbansi@xxxxxxxxx>
      • Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2011 22:21:29 −0800 (PST)

By: ZoneAsia−Pk

Osama Bin Laden surprised everyone in late 1990s when he escaped from
the Gulf to hide at an unexpected place: Sudan. Is it that the al−
Qaeda chief is repeating history by choosing South Asias least likely
place to hide?

Osama bin Ladens disappearance since late 2001 despite a massive high−
tech military and intelligence hunt involving assets and agents across
several regions is strengthening a conclusion reached by many analysts
that the al−Qaeda leader might have sought an unexpected hiding spot−

CIA has established an advanced information and intelligence gathering
network in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the past nine years. The
operation in Pakistan has reportedly recruited tribal men, garbage
collectors and even doctors in hospitals in Pakistani towns and cities
in the hope that an ailing bin Laden might be spotted somewhere. The
failure to uncover any leads is forcing some analysts to dust off old
pieces of information that were dismissed or not pursued for a variety
of reasons.

Indias name came up frequently in intelligence briefs on the bin
Laden hunt in the early months after the rout of the Taliban−led
government in Afghanistan in November 2001. This information was
dismissed by the US intelligence community on the suspicion that the
Pakistanis might have planted it to defame archrival India. There was
also concern the information might have been planted by Al−Qaeda
members as a diversionary tactic, meant to create breathing space for
their hunted leader.

But a small breakthrough last summer refocused attention on India.

Before the Indian connection is explained, a word on the authenticity
question of recent bin Laden tapes is necessary.

At least four different audio tapes surfaced last year carrying
messages from Osama bin Laden. The year 2010 was not good for these
bin Laden podcasts. Compared to each year since 2001, this was the

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                                                    1
                                      Is Osama Bin Laden In India?
first time that bin Laden tapes were met with widespread public
skepticism inside and outside the United States. Never before were al−
Qaeda leaders voice and video releases so scrutinized and questioned.
One reason for this was Osama fatigue. The news media and public
opinion had lost interest in bin Laden new tape releases. It no
longer generated the same excitement. But there was a bigger issue
this time. Eight years into Americas Afghan war, more and more
Americans and others had begun questioning the credibility of the
tapes. At question was not just how these tapes were produced but also
the full cycle of their release, methods of delivery, and final


Bin Laden released four tapes in 2010. On 29 January, he came out with
an audio tape blasting President Obamas hazy position on climate
change. This was a major departure for bin Laden. Climate change
debate is hot in the United States and parts of Europe but hardly
attracts any popular interest in the Middle East and Asia. For bin
Laden to make this statement would not have won him any new admirers
in the Middle East. But what it did was to embarrass the antiwar
liberal camps in the US and Europe who largely also oppose US
governments position on climate change. Another new aspect in this
audio release was bin Laden offering praise to an antiwar American
activist, Noam Chomsky, who is a renowned critic of US government, CIA
and the US military. Never before had bin Laden praised US persons by
name in his audio and video tapes. The move, he would have certainly
known, could have hurt Mr. Chomsky in the eyes of ordinary Americans
and provided easy fodder in the hands of US hawks to discredit
Chomskys antiwar message. The tape was aired by Al Jazeera in Qatar
and the channel refused to explain how it obtained the tape.

A week earlier, bin Laden released an audio tape praising an attempt
by a Nigerian citizen to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit on 25
December 2009. The one−minute audio tape, aired by Al Jazeera,
endorsed the act but stopped short of claiming responsibility for it.
The said incident was an amateur act by all standards of terror acts,
poorly organized and with little chance of succeeding. It was not
clear why bin Laden would want to be associated with it. Mr. bin Laden
also showed a sense of humor in the purported audio tape, saying his
was a message from Osama to Obama. This play on the name was
strange. It served no purpose except to embarrass President Obama in
front of American extremists who have been accusing him of being a
closet Muslim.

In March, Bin Laden released another tape warning the US government it
would kill American hostages if the accused in the 9/11 attack jailed
in Guantanamo were executed. The irony in this tape, which many US
commentators did not miss, was that al−Qaeda had already killed
Americans whenever a chance offered itself, so how was this threat
really a new threat? The progress in the trial of Guantanamo detainees

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                             2
                                       Is Osama Bin Laden In India?
was slow when this tape came out. Reports suggested that President
Obama was resisting pressure from US military to expedite the trials
because of legal and constitutional reasons. Bin Ladens tape served
to renew pressure on Obama to resume the trials.

And finally, in October, bin Laden released an audio tape warning to
kill five French citizens kidnapped in Niger if France does not
withdraw troops from Afghanistan. This was a bizarre message from the
Al−Qaeda leader. The reason is simple. The Frenchmen were kidnapped by
a little known local group in Niger that calls itself Al−Qaeda in
Islamic Maghrib. US intelligence officials refer to it by the acronym
AQIM. The problem is that no one knows where this AQIM is really
based. The best explanation coming from US sources is that this is a
group of militants who, according to one American source, used to
roam the Sahara desert before coming together and pledging
allegiance to Osama bin Laden. How intelligence professionals can
blindly accept the Al−Qaeda credentials of any group coming forward
and pledging allegiance to bin Laden while sitting in another
continent is a question that remains unanswered.

The strange part is that the kidnappings actually neatly fitted with
the international competition over uranium mines in Niger where these
kidnappings occurred. Imagine five Frenchmen kidnapped from a uranium
mining town in Niger, where they were in fierce competition, and then
the justification for the kidnapping comes from Al−Qaeda chief in an
audio tape released some 2,000 miles away. This is eerily similar to
Chinese engineers kidnapped or killed in and around the new strategic
Pakistani port city of Gwadar in 2006 and 2007 where countries like
India, Iran, UAE and the United States were and continue to be opposed
to Chinese presence and involvement for strategic reasons. When the
Chinese were targeted, the responsibility was conveniently shouldered
by a new group called Tehreek−e−Taliban Pakistan, also known as TTP or
Pakistani Taliban. This new Pakistani Taliban, which borrowed its name
from the original Afghan Taliban, gave a clumsy explanation for why it
decided to attack Chinese interests in Pakistan while claiming to
fight a jihad against United States. It said it did it in order to
embarrass Pakistans pro−US government. The skeptics were not sure
Pakistans pro−US government was embarrassed. What is for sure is that
this was part of efforts to keep China out of a strategically
important nation.


There is a full delivery cycle to Osama bin Ladens tapes. They are
recorded, edited, copied and then transported to reach their final
destination on the screen of a television news channel. Al Jazeera has
received most of these video and audio tapes, with few going to other
Arab and western networks.

For some reason, the government of the United States and its allies in
the war on terror never pursued this trail as hard as they pursued

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                             3
                                       Is Osama Bin Laden In India?
terror financing, for example. Not that it would be easy. In most
cases, unknown individuals dropped the tapes at the residence or at
the local offices of Al−Jazeera correspondents in Islamabad or

But there has been another very prolific source of Al−Qaeda tapes
other than al−Jazeera. This second source is SITE. It is short for
Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute. It was founded
in 2002 as a private intelligence group by Rita Katz, an Iraqi born
Israeli and US citizen. She served in the Israeli military. In 2008
she closed the institute and established SITE Intel Group. Its website
describes the company in the following words: Rapid, Full
Translations of Primary Source Jihadist Media and Access to Jihadist
Videos. This is a marketing niche that no one has thought of before
and perfectly suited to the post−9/11 US security and military
doctrines. In short, she combs the Internet for sites and chat rooms
where al−Qaeda and Islamic groups post messages, press releases and
audiovisual material. She does not reveal the identity of her clients
but the company has been engaged by the Clinton and the Bush

Many have accused SITE and Ms. Katz of turning terrorism into an
industry. Her strong links to the Israeli military and intelligence
community provide context to her work.

Israels threat perception is very simple: Muslims pose a threat.
Period. There are many Israelis who wish their security and military
establishments would change this threat perception because all Muslims
cannot be a threat. Interestingly, Ms. Katz and SITE has carried this
paranoia to Washington DC. In 1999, when FBI and CIA could not find
enough evidence to say al−Qaeda posed a global threat, terror experts
in the government hired SITE to build a case against al−Qaeda. This
case helped in propelling Al−Qaeda, a little known group in the Middle
East before 9/11, into the coveted position of Americas main
adversary in the world, a spot previously occupied by the former USSR.

There is one more country besides Israel that shares a similar threat
perception as Israel. This country is India.


The Bush administration worked hard and quite successfully in
convincing the Indians that China posed a threat to India and that
countering China will propel India to a superpower status. But
despite Indian military buildup to counter China, it is Pakistan and
Islamophobia that drives Indian policymakers. Hindu religious
fundamentalism and inaccurate notions about geography and history
force the Indian ruling elite to consider Pakistan and Muslims as a
major threat. Historically, of all the foreign invaders of India,
Muslims are the only ones to rule India for more than ten centuries
until it was liberated by the British Empire. This history weighs

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                             4
                                       Is Osama Bin Laden In India?
heavily on the Indian psyche and drives Indian policy toward Pakistan,
Afghanistan, and Kashmir.

During the 1990s, and thanks to this common threat perception, India
and Israel started working closely to counter Islam. How paranoid
these two countries are can be gauged from the fact that Islam is not
a monolith political force. Muslim countries and nations are diverse
and do not constitute a single force that would threaten either Israel
or India. But despite this fact, ruling elites in Israel and India
have used the Islamic threat as a rallying cry for ideological and
military buildup.

Israel had a long history and experience in dealing with Muslim
religious groups. It learned how to infiltrate them, understand them,
and negotiate with them. It also established schools to train agents
in Quran and Islamic Sharia, and devoted resources to studying fault
lines inside Islam that can be exploited to work Muslim groups against
each other.

Israel passed this training and experience to India for use in
occupied Kashmir to quell a pro−Pakistan popular movement there. So
strong was the Israeli help that at one stage, in summer 1999, Indian
military requested assistance from Israeli Special Forces to help stop
the advance of Pakistanis. Even today, Israeli diplomats in New Delhi
often remind their hosts about how Israel helped turn the situation on
the ground in Kashmir.

India learned Israeli lessons in dealing with Muslim groups fairly
quickly. Many freedom groups that operated in Indian−occupied Kashmir
during the 1990s were fronts for Indian intelligence. India used these
groups for various purposes. Some of these groups committed atrocities
to discredit the genuine pro−freedom groups. Others acted as Trojan
horses, spying from the inside on the pro−freedom Kashmiri movement.

After 2001, India established an elaborate intelligence setup in
Afghanistan. But the purpose here was three−fold: Spy on Afghan
Taliban, export terror into Pakistans western regions under the guise
of Taliban, and exacerbate misunderstandings between Pakistani and US
militaries. The last two were of special interest to the Indians.
Disguised as Taliban, the Indians established contacts with militants
and guns−for−hire inside Pakistans tribal region. Pakistani militants
were recruited for training to commit terrorist acts inside Pakistan.
The Indians were also keen to demonstrate that US soldiers are under
threat from militants inside the Pakistani tribal belt. Establishing a
direct link between attacks on US soldiers and Pakistans tribal belt
was of paramount importance to the Indians. In some cases, this meant
funneling weapons and funding to criminals and terrorists to mount
attacks on US soldiers in Afghanistan and magnify links to Pakistani
tribal belt.


Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                             5
                                      Is Osama Bin Laden In India?

All countries in the region have established contacts with Al−Qaeda at
different times when it served their interests. Topping the list is
the United States. Osama bin Laden started out as a CIA asset. Later,
he established contacts with the Pakistanis and the Saudis. After 9/11
and the US war against Afghanistan, bin Laden established ties with
Iran. This was a clear example that the impossible can happen. Who
would have thought that two opposing religious schools, Irans Shias
and al−Qaedas hard liners would become friends of convenience and
circumstance? This relationship went as far as bin Laden trusting
Iran with his sons and daughters and other senior lieutenants who were
provided safe havens inside Iran.

The only country in the region whose name never appears in the list of
countries that tried to contact al−Qaeda is India. But that is not
because India did not try to establish such contact.

Indian intelligence agency, RAW, approached al−Qaeda immediately after
the groups defeat in Afghanistan. Such contacts date back to 2002 and
2003. The Indians are known to have kidnapped Pakistani and Afghan
militants and transported them by air to India for training and

The first signs of Osama bin Ladens contacts with the Indians emerged
in early 2002, barely four months after the collapse of Taliban
government in Kabul, and three months after the last sighting of bin
Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora. At the time, India had amassed
half of its military on Pakistans borders and there was a heightened
possibility of war. Pakistanis knew Washington was using India to
blackmail Islamabad in Afghanistan. The Indians tried to convince
Washington that Osama bin Laden might be hiding with a pro−Kashmir
group in the Pakistani part of Kashmir. New Delhi was hoping this
would get Washington to go after pro−Kashmir freedom groups based in

What happened next is that the Americans and the British found leads
indicating the possibility that bin Laden did indeed come to the
region but only as a stopover to cross into India. Moreover, there
were signs the Indians were in contact with the al Qaeda leader, or at
least some of the Indians since not everyone in the Indian government
knew about it. This divide between Indian intelligence and political
establishment was proven eight years later when Indian intelligence
officers admitted to running clandestine programs outside the purview
of Indian politicians. One of these programs groomed Hindu terror
groups to conduct a bombing campaign inside India that would be blamed
on Pakistan, ISI and Kashmiris.

Washington and London quietly convinced New Delhi to allow foreign
troops into the Indian occupied part of Kashmir to trace bin Ladens
trail. The Indians were extremely reluctant. They were concerned if
they approved the measure and word got out, then Indias long held

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                             6
                                      Is Osama Bin Laden In India?
position of avoiding the internationalization of Kashmir dispute
would stand nowhere. In the end India allowed a 40−man team of US and
British special forces US Delta Force and Britains SAS to enter
Indian occupied Kashmir to hunt for bin Laden. When Britains daily
Telegraphs defense correspondent broke the news, Indian officials
were in a fix. They denied the presence of Delta Force and SAS inside
India or in Kashmir. There is no question of allowing American or
British or any foreign troops into J&K. The report is totally
incorrect and baseless, an Indian Defense Ministry spokesman was
quoted as saying by the Indian media.

No trace of the terror leader was found. But it was a year later that
information started trickling in about the possibility that bin Laden
had availed Indian contacts and visited India. The information first
reached the Pakistanis. Multiple contacts inside Afghanistan and among
the Afghan Taliban talked about reports that bin Laden left the region
for India. It seemed farfetched at the time. But four years later, new
evidence showed that the Indians have actually moved terrorists
involved in bombings inside Pakistan to India via Afghanistan. Among
them was Brahamdagh Bugti, a Pakistani warlord from Balochistan, and
terrorists who formed the so−called Swat Taliban that overran the
scenic Swat region in 2009 before the Pakistani military defeated it.

There were three routes that bin Laden could have taken to India
dodging the Pakistanis, knowing that Pervez Musharrafs government
would not hesitate in turning him over to the Americans having
backstabbed pro−Pakistan Afghan Taliban officials, like the last
Taliban ambassador to Islamabad Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef. Bin Laden
could have been flown from Afghanistan to India via Dubai. Or via
Uzbekistan. A third possibility is that he slipped into Indian−
occupied Kashmir from Pakistan.

The reports at the time said bin Laden visited two cities in southern
India: Hyderabad and Bangalore. Pakistani intelligence officials tried
to ascertain whether bin Laden slipped into India covertly or with
help from elements in the Indian intelligence. A conclusive answer
never materialized. But Pakistanis said this visit was not possible
without the involvement of Indian intelligence. Yet there were no
buyers in Washington and London for the Pakistani information. It is
important to remember that this was 2003. Bin Ladens family members
were yet to be found hiding in Iran with Iranian intelligence help,
and India was yet to be accused of supporting terrorism on the Pak−
Afghan border and inside Pakistan using Afghan soil.

Pakistani officials shared this information with American and British
journalists and were surprised to see them protecting India and giving
it maximum benefit of the doubt. These journalists were ready to print
unproven theories about Pakistan and its nuclear weapons but will not
even hint at the possibility that bin Laden might have used the
Himalayas to cross into India.

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                             7
                                      Is Osama Bin Laden In India?
Myra McDonalds, a Reuters journalist, did muster the courage to
mention bin Ladens India link in a passing way in May last year. But
the reason it came up was fresh developments in the India−bin Laden

Apparently, al Qaeda chiefs audio tape of March 2010 came from India.
Security officials in the Gulf traced the tape to a courier service
that booked the parcel in Bangalore. This is the same city identified
by information floating in 2003 indicating bin Laden was there.

Al−Qaeda is almost decimated. There may not be more than fifty current
and former al Qaeda associates in Afghanistan and Pakistans border
region. But the Americans continue to use it as a scarecrow. Since it
came into being, al Qaeda and its chief have been played by various
countries according to their interests. Even now, bin Laden continues
to be played to some extent by one or more strategic players. It is
not possible for a wanted man in an unstable region to sustain himself
for a long period of time without a hiding place protected by the
sovereign powers of a spy service.

Back in late 1990s, when all doors were closed for bin Laden, he
surprised everyone by taking refuge in an unexpected place: Sudan. A
decade later the al Qaeda chief seems to have repeated history by
going in hiding at an unexpected place.

Article Source:

Is Osama Bin Laden In India?                                                                   8

To top