Daniel Pearl & the London Blasts

Daniel Pearl & the London Blasts

As I watched on the TV an announcement by the BBC that the British Police have identified Jamaican-born Lindsey Germaine, who lived in Buckinghamshire, as one of the bombers responsible for the terrorist strikes in London on July 7,2005, I could not help thinking of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist working for the "Wall Street Journal", who was kidnapped and brutally killed by a group of jihadi terrorists belonging to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM---previously known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar HUA ) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in January-February, 2002.

Pearl 's kidnapping and murder was orchestrated by Omar Sheikh, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, who had studied for some time in the London School of Economics. He discontinued his studies and joined the HUA during the war in Bosnia , where the HUA had sent a contingent to help the Bosnian Muslims in their fight against the Serbs. This contingent was sent by the Government of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, who was then the Prime Minister, at the request of the Clinton Administration.. The contingent, which was raised and got trained by Lt.Gen.(retd) Hamid Gul, former Director-General of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who himself used to visit Bosnia, had a large number of British Muslims of Pakistani origin.

According to reliable estimates, about 200 Muslims of Pakistani origin living in the UK went to Pakistan , got trained in the camps of the HUA and joined the HUA's contingent in Bosnia with the full knowledge and complicity of the British and American intelligence agencies. These intelligence agencies raised a large corps of jihadi terrorists of Arab origin to help the Afghan Mujahideen in their jihad against the Soviet troops. They similarly raised a large corps of jihadi terrorists to help the Bosnian Mujahideen in their fight against the Serbs.

By then, the Arabs of Afghan vintage had already started creating mayhem across the world after the end of the Afghan jihad., So, these agencies wanted to avoid the use of the Arabs in Bosnia . They turned to Pakistanis, particularly Pakistanis living in the UK and other countries of West Europe . Thus began the radicalisation of the Muslim youth of Pakistani origin living in West Europe .

After having fought against the Serbs in Bosnia , Omar Sheikh infiltrated into India and participated in some acts of terrorism. He was arrested and jailed by the Indian authorities. In December,1999, he had to be released following the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar by the HUM. From Kandahar , Omar crossed over to Pakistan, joined the Al Qaeda and opened its office in Lahore.

In the beginning of 2002, Pearl , then posted in Mumbai( Bombay ), had heard that the instructions to Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, whose father was a British resident of Caribbean origin, to carry out his terrorist strike had come from an unidentified source in Karachi belonging to an organisation called the Jamaat-ul-Fuqra (JUF), based in Lahore. Its leader Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani had four wives, two of them Afro-Americans.

The JUF differed from the other Pakistani jihadi organisations in some respects. It focussed its activities on the Muslim communities in the US, Canada and the Caribbean. Its membership consisted largely of blacks recruited in the US , Canada and the Caribbean . It laid emphasis on the need to penetrate the armed forces of the US and the Caribbean by recruiting blacks serving in them. It was a highly secretive organisation. Not much was known about its leaders other than Gilani. It never issued any statements. It never circulated any pamphlets or ran any web sites.

It became a jihadi organisation of major concern to the intelligence agencies of the US and Canada after its members in the US were involved in a series of attacks on Hindu and Jewish targets and its supporters in the armed forces of the Caribbean almost successfully staged a coup and captured power in the late 1980s.

In 1995, the HUA also started focusing on the black community in the US . It recruited nearly a dozen blacks in the US and brought them to Pakistan for jihadi training in its camps and sent them back to the US . While the HUA and the JUF kept away from each other in Pakistan , they co-operated with each other in the US and built up a network of sleeper cells. The HUA did not show much interest in the Caribbean and left that area to the JUF.

Daniel wanted to visit Pakistan to enquire about any links between Reid and the JUF and interview Gilani. From Mumbai, he established E-mail contacts with some friends in Karachi in order to explore the possibility of an interview with Gilani. One day he received an E-mail from an individual, who later turned out to be Omar Sheikh. This individual claimed he knew Gilani well and offered to organise an interview with him.

Without establishing the identity of this individual and without enquiring about his background, Daniel went to Karachi , agreed to a clandestine meeting and fell into a trap organised by Omar Sheikh. He was kidnapped and ultimately killed. While it was established that the HUM and the HUJI had a leading role in the kidnapping and murder, it was not clear whether the JUF had any role in it.

Omar Sheikh surrendered to a former officer of the ISI and a close personal friend of Gen.Pervez Musharraf, who was posted as Home Secretary in Lahore , was tried along with other accomplices and sentenced to death by a lower court. The sentence has not so far been carried out. An appeal against the sentence filed by Omar is pending before a higher court, which has been adjourning the hearing again and again. On July 14, the hearing was adjourned for the 32nd time.

In the meanwhile, Omar continues to be as active from jail as he was when he was a free man. He reportedly keeps in touch with his friends and followers in the UK , advising them on their future course of action. Statements purported to have been issued by him from jail calling upon the Muslims of the world to retaliate against the US for its desecration of the Holy Koran are being disseminated every Friday in many Pakistani mosques controlled by jihadi terrorist organisations.

In the meanwhile unhindered by the Pakistani authorities. the JUF continues to recruit volunteers from the USA and the Caribbean, bring them to Pakistan and train them in its camps before they are returned to their place of origin.

On June 20, 2003 before the arrival of Musharraf in the US for his Camp David meeting with President George Bush, FBI officials had disclosed that they had arrested in April Lyman Faris, also known as Mohammad Rauf, originally a resident of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), who had migrated to the US in 1994 and was working as a truck driver in Ohio and charged him with having links with Al Qaeda and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, said to be Osama bin Laden's operations chief, who is believed to have co-coordinated the terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001, in the US. Khalid was arrested in the house of a women's wing leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) of Pakistan at Rawalpindi in March,2003, by the Pakistani authorities and handed over to the FBI.

According to FBI officials, as quoted in the US media, Faris had visited Afghanistan and Pakistan a number of times between 2000 and 2002, met Osama bin Laden and worked with Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, in organising and financing jihad causes. After returning to the US from Pakistan in late 2002, officials said, he began examining the Brooklyn Bridge and discussing via coded messages with Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan ways of using blow torches to sever the suspension cables.

Sources in Pakistan described Faris, aged 34, as a Punjabi ex-serviceman settled in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, before he migrated to the US . They also said that he was associated in the past with the Jamaat-ul-Fuqra (JUF).

Reports on the investigation into the London blasts available so far point the needle of suspicion at the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the JUF. Pakistani sources say that while Shehzad Tanweer, one of the bombers, was trained in two LET camps at Muridke, near Lahore , and in Karachi , Lindsey Germaine has had a history of association with the JUF. There are also grounds to suspect that the blasts were orchestrated by Omar Sheikh from his jail in Pakistan.

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