TRUMP IS RIGHT ABOUT PAKISTAN
By: Lawrence Sellin, Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.)
During an interview with Fox News, President Trump stated that Pakistan has done little to curtail Islamic extremism — even sheltering al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — despite accepting billions in aid from the United States.
The president implied what many have come to believe: that Pakistan is responsible for prolonging the Afghan war, has nurtured Islamic extremism and, like Iran, has incorporated it as an element of its foreign policy.
That terrorist-reinforced foreign policy includes the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, that killed more than 160 including 6 Americans. It was conducted by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terror gang enjoying the support of the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI, and al Qaeda.
It is widely recognized that Pakistan created, supported and has given safe haven to the Taliban. Less well known is the role played by Pakistanis in the development and planning of the 9/11 attack.
Although the perpetrators were Saudis, the planners were Pakistani and not initially members of al Qaeda, but the Muslim Brotherhood. It was largely a family affair.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), son of a Deobandi cleric and often referred to as the “architect” of the 9/11 attacks is Pakistani and was born in Balochistan.
Ramzi Yousef is KSM’s nephew and one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the bombing of Philippine Airlines Flight 434. He was a co-conspirator with KSM in the Bojinka plot, which included assassinating Pope John Paul II while he visited the Philippines and planting bombs inside twelve United and Delta Air Lines flights out of Bangkok.
Although he was born in Kuwait, Ramzi Yousef is Pakistani. His father was from Balochistan and his mother is KSM’s sister.
Adel Anonn, aka Adel Bani, who had an Iraqi passport and believed to be Ramzi Yousef’s twin brother, was arrested in the Philippines in 1995 as part of a suspected terrorist cell.
Abdul Qadir Mehmood, Ramzi Yousef’s older brother, is wanted in connection with a 2015 terror attack that killed 45 people traveling on a bus from the Safoora Chowk area of Karachi, Pakistan.
Best known as a provider of financial and material support for terrorist attacks, Abdul Qadir has reportedly switched allegiance from al Qaeda to the Islamic State (IS) and is hiding in Wadh, Balochistan, presumably under the protection of IS leader, Shafiq Mengal, a former Pakistani intelligence asset.
Ammar Al-Baluchi, cousin of Ramzi Yousef and maternal nephew of KSM, is a Pakistani citizen in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Charges against him include facilitating the 9/11 attackers, acting as a courier for Bin Laden and plotting to crash a plane packed with explosives into the US consulate in Karachi.
Al-Baluchi’s former wife, Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani militant, was convicted of shooting at US soldiers and is incarcerated in the U.S.
Over the years, tens of thousands of Pakistani nationals, a conservative estimate, were trained and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan. That has never stopped.
During the August 2018 attack in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, 70 of the 400 Taliban killed were Pakistani nationals, whose bodies were returned to Pakistan.
Afghan army chief of staff, General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was behind the five-day siege of Ghazni. He also said many members of Lashkar-e-Taiba were among those killed in Ghazni province.
It is then no coincidence that all five Taliban representatives to the recent U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar; Mullah Shahabuddin Dilawar, Qari Din Mohammad Hanif, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Dr. Mohammad Naeem Wardak and Abdul Salam Hanafi, carried Pakistani passports and flew out of Pakistan.
The war in Afghanistan is not an insurgency, it is a proxy war being orchestrated by Pakistan.
President Trump was wise to reduce aid to Pakistan. He should not support yet another International Monetary Fund bailout of Pakistan, its thirteenth, money from which will likely go directly to China to repay those debts.
The most effective leverage against Pakistan, however, is not financial but existential. That is, ethnic separatism: erasing the Durand Line and supporting the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and Balochistan independence groups.
That, Mr. President, is something Pakistan will recognize, a taste of its own medicine, so to speak.
Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa.