A new terrorist network or what?By Afshain Afzal • May 20th, 2010 • Category: Politics • 3 Comments
While scanning certain US based newspapers, in order to find out latest about the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, I came across quite similarity in all the reports, rather these were to an extent replica of each other. A striking point I noticed that every newspaper, magazine and media channel dubbed Faisal as Pakistani-American. It reminds me of the last years Olympics in which China stood first by bagging highest numbers of the Gold Medals. USA was second in Gold Medals but maintained highest aggregate. Interestingly, many of the US medal winners were immigrants from other countries but not even in a single instant they were referred back to their country of origin. One wonders when the immigrants earn roll of honours, they are Americans but when they violate law or serve as source of embarrassment for US, they are referred back to their countries of their origin without any discrimination. Often Washington issues threatening warnings to the countries from which immigrant nationality holders, involved in terrorism originate. However, the country of origin is never intimated if they do wonders and earn appreciations. One wonders, if countries like US have ever inquire from the country of immigrants’ origin whether they allow their citizen to acquire any new nationality. Isn’t it crime to steel other countries’ cream but when its rots it is thrown back in courtyard of country from where it was stolen.
In a dramatic move, few days back, the Air traffic Control was taken over by intelligence personnel. Dubai-bound Emirates flight EK 202 was called back before taking off from John F Kennedy Airport. An American national namely Faisal, who originally hailed from Pakistan, who was aboard on this flight was arrested by FBI and cautioned to remain silent and access a lawyer but this gentleman preferred to divulge revelations about his involvement in terrorism and reportedly connection with US agencies. Apparently, it was CIA’s attempt to set a thief to catch a thief but what Faisal had been doing was to misguide American agents about terrorist in Pakistan. Interestingly, because of his dubious activities, Faisal also attracted attention of Pakistani agencies. Since there was suspicion that he might be apprehended by authorities in Islamabad, those who set this thief arrested him to save him from prosecution. John Pistole, Deputy Director FBI disclosed that Faisal was placed on the “No Fly” list, only hours before his arrest. If US agencies were not involved in this game, how come FBI developed an idea that Faisal was fleeing the country, especially when the surveillance agency confirmed that they were unable to track him after the Time Square incident? More so, how come US agencies tracked him when the Nissan SUV used in the incident was not registered in the name of Faisal nor did its previous owner had any idea about it. The other thing is that FBI claims that after the incident, Faisal visited his home and took his second vehicle to reach the airport. One wonders that FBI recovered the keys of his house in the unattended Nissan SUV at Time Square, if this is the case how he entered his house before leaving for airport. The impression that CIA or FBI had no idea about activities of Faisal prior to the incident, makes no sense as it is not possible to locate pre-paid caller among millions of callers in couple of hours, unless the number is already on the hook for some time.
Immediately after the arrest, the FBI got confessional statement from Faisal in which he confessed that he attempted to detonate the bomb at Times Square and attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. One wonders, how come FBI got the confessional statements without having approval for doing so from the court. Faisal had been living in US since 1998 and had fair idea that he had right to remain silent and anything he would reveal would be taken as evidence against him in court of law. Interestingly, Faisal confessions included 1) He attempted to detonate the bomb, 2) He received bomb-making training at a terror camp in restive Waziristan, 3) He travelled from Connecticut to New York on a Nissan SUV that was laden with a bomb etc. FBI filed a 10-page complaint on May 4, 2010 before the Court of Judge Nathaniel Fox, Southern District of New York. Faisal is charged on five counts of terrorism including; an act of terrorism transcending national borders, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, use of a destructive device during the commission of another crime, attempt, assorted explosives charges and attempt to kill people in New York. At this stage, it is difficult to reach to any specific conclusion whether it was a tip from Pakistan or something else but back in Pakistan, immediately after the arrest of Faisal, seven persons were arrested from different parts of the country for their links with Faisal. Later, three other persons were also arrested. Pakistani intelligence is tight lipped to admit that whether the detained suspects had links to the Taliban or Al-Qaida. However, US agencies have ruled out his link with any network and claim that he acted alone in the incident. Had FBI missed this rare opportunity to arrest Faisal caught red handed fleeing the country; it would have wasted US’ years of efforts to set another conspiracy against Pakistan? However, strong feelings exists that there is a communication gap between various intelligence agencies in US as it was a folly from CIA to arrest Faisal on the suspicion of being Double Agent.
If we briefly look at Faisal’s profile, after completing undergraduate studies at Peshawar, Faisal applied in American universities. He went to the US on a student visa in the year 1998. He graduated from the University of Bridgeport in computer science in 2000 and completed Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 2005. He later undertook various jobs relating to accounts. He married a Pakistani girl and has two young children who are presently in Pakistan. In the year 2009, he was granted American nationality. Faisal originally belongs to village Mohib Banda, near Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province. His father is a senior officer from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) who is presently leading a retired life. Faisal is not a religious person rather he is in the habit of criticizing religious heads “Maulvis” for their narrow mindedness and self-projected Islam. A local of Mohib Banda told on the condition of anonymity that Faisal had completely westernized himself and had no connection with any religious group or his village. He disclosed that Faisal only occasionally visited Mohib Banda on functions like marriage ceremonies and was living in Peshawar since his childhood. He disclosed that he often expressed hatred for religious elements and his joining Jihadi group seems impossible.
The FBI’s suspect Faisal may also be involved in failed Christmas Day bombing and dozen of terrorist attacks in Pakistan including in Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi. He is being suspected in Time Square attack on the ground that a box of fireworks, labeled “Silver Salutes,” which were recovered from his house bear similarity with the containers of gasoline and other materials left in Nissan SUV. However, it is technically wrong to relate the failed Christmas Day bombing plot or Times Square scare with 1993 World Trade Center attacks. The failed Christmas Day bombing was an attempt to create scare among the Chrisman holiday makers while Nissan SUV apparently aimed to put Pakistani authorities in a compromising position. The CIA, however, failed to comprehend that although for the American public it was a good job done by intelligence agencies but, in fact, an agent has been compromised which may lead other foreign tentacles in serious trouble. Pakistani authorities are conducting their own investigations in the same regard. Irrespective of the fact that Washington has ruled out links of Faisal Shahazad with any terrorist Jihadi group and has authenticated his version of the story that he acted alone in the Times Square terror attack, things are not that simple.
What CIA and other US Federal agents are trying to hide is US’ home grown terrorist groups. As the investigation will proceed, more terrorists linked with the network are going to be exposed. So far his links with foreign nationals in Pakistan have been confirmed. If Faisal has no links with Jihadis, it does not mean that he cannot be a terrorist as networks of atheists, moderates, naturalists, socialists, democrats, nationalist etc can also be terrorists. No, doubt, in any case, if Faisal’s involvement is confirmed, it was a unpardonable crime. It has been claimed by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly that the explosive device found inside the SUV had alarm clocks connected to a 16-ounce can filled with fireworks, which were intended to detonate gas cans and set propane tanks afire in a chain reaction. A metal rifle cabinet was also placed in the SUV’s cargo area, which was packed with fertilizer, but as also highlighted by NYPD bomb experts; it was not a type volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade fertilizer used in past terror attacks. In fact, the explosion might not be able to cause more harm than breaking window panes of nearby building but terrorism is terrorism. The CIA, Pentagon and other Federal agencies in US are trying to protect Faisal as he may reveal the whole truth if falls in the hands of Pakistani agencies. It is too early to comments if Faisal is a terrorist or otherwise but one thing is sure that if his terrorism is proved, new networks of terrorists are going to be exposed, more deadly than what is being alleged about Al-Qaida.
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I am a freelance writer by profession and have an experience of writing freelance for both the online and the print media. My articles regularly appear in Pakistani newspapers including The Frontier Post, Pakistan Observer, The Post, The News. In foreign press, my articles have been published in Bangladesh Today, Holiday international and Sri Lanka Guardian. Besides completing Masters in History and International Relations, I am also pursuing M Phil in Rural Development. I am a Law graduate. I spend most of the time in affairs relating to social work and writing articles.
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