Terrorism, in our time, has found one of its most consistent sponsors in Pakistan. This fact is so simple it could be taught in fourth-grade geography; only the names are difficult.
In December 1999, in Kashmir, India, an Indian Airlines aircraft was hijacked by several Pakistan-based groups—Harkat-ul-Mujahedin (HUM), Lashkar-e-Toib, and Hizbul Mujahideen—demanding the release of their confederates from Indian prisons. The hijackers called themselves the “united front.”
The first group, HUM, was formed in Punjab, Pakistan, in the early 1980s. Undergoing a couple of name changes when it was briefly outlawed, it has stayed on message with kidnappings, hijackings, and ambushes, loosely but adequately described on the unorthodox travel web- site www.comebackalive.com: “HUA is the main recruiter and trainer (with help from the Pakistani Secret Service) of young Kashmiris and out-of-work muhajedin [sic] from Pakistan. If you are looking for muhajedin [sic] time to add to your resume [sic], they will train you for five weeks in the dark arts of light weapons, land mines, booby traps and covert operations and then send you marching over the mountains to raise havoc in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The group is also known for sending eager fighters into Bosnia (all gone home now), Tajikistan (Tajik resistance), Myanmar . . . They have become sort of a Burger King jihad around the world.”
Only after September 11 was HUM once again officially listed as “terrorist”; the Pakistani secret service (ISI) has not been held accountable. HUM bans U.S. citizens from visiting Kashmir and has participated in several kidnappings of Westerners, including tourists.
HUM funneled U.S. aid to the Taliban in the 1980’s, via the Pakistani secret service; the money came from the CIA, which spent $3.3 billion helping the Taliban. HUM is also linked to another Pakistani group, Jamiat-ul-Ulema (JUI), whose leader is openly referred to in print as “the godfather of the Taliban.”
The Hizbul is a military force supported by Pakistan, operating inside India with an estimated 15,000 fighters. Lashkare-Toib is largely made up of Afghans, not in Afghanistan but in the Kashmir, where they are sent by the ISI to wreak havoc.
HUM, Lashkar-e-Toib, al Badr, and Sipah-e-Sahaba, also Pakistani groups, are all members with Al Qaeda of the “International Islamic Front.” According to a Financial Times article about rocket attacks on U.S. and U.N. offices in Pakistan in November 1999, “All these Pakistan-based organizations are virulently anti-American in their rhetoric, but only the HUM has been anti-US in its actions too, whereas the other organizations had so far carefully avoided any attacks on US nationals or interests.”
Pakistan hosts the Saudi Arabian-sponsored Wahhabi religious schools that teach the hardest-line Islam to children with nowhere else to go. These schools are where some of the Talibs began.
Pakistan’s secret service has been deliberately destabilizing Afghanistan for years. The late Ahmed Shah Massoud, commander of the “united front” in Afghanistan, attributed the Taliban’s success to the ISI (which also trained Massoud); even anti-Taliban, pro-U.S. Arab writers consider the Taliban a puppet of Pakistan. Massoud—who might have united enough factions to form some sort of government—was attacked by suicide bombers posing as journalists on September 9, 2001, and died on September 14.
Massoud’s “journalist” assassins enjoyed a remarkably smooth trip, amounting to a safe conduct, through Afghan territory. Thus, their trip was visible—or should have been—to the Pakistani secret service and to the U.S. and Russian secret services. Either way, Massoud’s assassination looks like a chip for Vladimir Putin, newly induced to join a “coalition” against the Taliban—which, according to the Russian press, several former Soviet countries had already formed months earlier. (The Soviet Union failed in several attempts to assassinate Massoud when Putin was with the KGB.) Somehow, two former heroes of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union have now been assassinated, despite the CIA’s vigilance; the only opposition figure successfully rescued by the CIA is one who was based out of Pakistan.
Pakistan has supported, trained, financed, and shipped commandos against other states for years, and the entire Middle East knows it. When the White House has bombs dropped on the Taliban, while giving money and photo ops to a smiling General Musharraf, it broadcasts the speciousness of the ISI, the CIA, and U.S. intelligence around the world.