Pak extends half a hand of help
Indians detained
Terror base tracked to Hamburg
Bush readies America for long march
Bombs can’t blow up all
Fighter umbrella cast over air space
Secretive Taliban leader rules country
New curriculum at West Point for a new enemy
Airlines fly into bankruptcy clooud
ISI America’s best bet in Afghanistan

Islamabad, Sept. 15: 
President George W. Bush today vowed a “sweeping, sustained and effective” campaign against those behind Tuesday’s terror attacks as Pakistan accepted US requests for cooperation in combating terrorism.

Secretary of state Colin Powell said in Camp David that Pakistan had agreed to all US requests, which would mean allowing air and ground attacks to be mounted from its soil on Osama bin Laden, believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. The Taliban regime warned Pakistan and any other country cooperating with the US of “extraordinary danger”.

It was not clear yet if Pakistan was ready to permit its territory to be used for launching ground attacks, a possibility Bush did not rule out as he and his team met at Camp David late tonight.

Earlier, when asked if he had a message for the 50,000 reserve troops, whose call-up he has approved, Bush said: “The message for everybody who wears the uniform — get ready. The United States will do what it takes to win the war.”

After a four-hour joint meeting of the National Security Council and the Cabinet in Islamabad, foreign minister Abdul Sattar said: “Pakistan does not expect to take part in military operations outside our border.”

He said Pakistan would comply with all UN Security Council resolutions to combat terrorism. There was no word from Islamabad as to what it had agreed to. “The government will discharge its responsibilities under international law,” Sattar said, adding that the specifics were still being worked out. This could mean Pakistan would ask for a UN resolution supporting action against Afghanistan.

Sources said Pakistan might provide air or sea space for launching attacks but this could fall short of US expectations which include ground troops movement. Earlier this week, it had handed Pakistan a list of requests: closing the border with Afghanistan, cutting off fuel supplies to the Taliban, sharing intelligence and help in air and ground attacks.

Pakistan has been consulting its allies, China and other Muslim countries. A special envoy of Saudi Arabia flew in yesterday.

India has signalled it is ready to let the US use its military bases. India could provide a large base for any military strike at Afghanistan, but US jets would still have to cross Pakistani airspace.

Attending a national security meeting with Bush and top advisers, Powell said he wanted to “thank the President and people of Pakistan for the support that they have offered, and their willingness to assist us in whatever might be required in that part of the world.” Asked what he meant, Powell said Pakistan had agreed to all US requests.

As winds of war strengthened, Bush for the first time singled out bin Laden as a prime suspect behind the attacks. Bush warned bin Laden he would not be able to hide from America’s wrath. “If he thinks he can hide from the US, and our allies, he will be sorely mistaken.”

Bush stepped up his rhetoric to its highest pitch since Tuesday’s attacks, which have left hundreds confirmed dead and almost 5,000 people missing. “Those who make war against the United States have chosen their own destruction,” Bush declared.

The risks for Pakistan in agreeing to US conditions became immediately apparent. “If a neighbouring country or the regional countries — particularly Islamic countries — gave a positive response to American demands for military bases, it would spark off extraordinary danger,” Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef said in Islamabad.

The Taliban called for a jihad against anyone cooperating with the US, while the foreign ministry and Zaeef said Afghanistan would send fighters to extract revenge.

“It is not impossible that we would attack such (a) country under compulsion and the mujahideen would have to enter the territory of such a country,” he added.

The Taliban told the few remaining foreigners in Afghanistan to leave “for their own security”.


Dallas, Sept. 15 (Reuters): 
Two men being questioned by the FBI in connection with Tuesday’s attacks have said they are Indian. They gave their names as Ayub Ali Khan, 51, and Mohammed Jaweed Azmath, 47, police said.

Investigators have not confirmed their names or nationality. The two men, taken off a train in Texas and questioned for two days, have been moved to New York for further questioning.

On Wednesday, they were taken off an Amtrak train for causing a disturbance and found to be travelling without legal papers and with items the police described as suspicious.


Hamburg, Sept. 15: 
In November 1998, when real estate agent Thorsten Albrecht was seeking tenants for a modest second-floor apartment at 54 Marien St. in this multiethnic port city, he heard from a stream of people interested in renting it. But three young Arab men who applied together stood out as potentially ideal tenants.

Egyptian-born Mohamed Atta and Ramzi Bialshibh, a citizen of Yemen, showed proof of German government scholarship money to attend the local Technical University. The third man in the group, Said Bahaji, had been born in Germany.

“They gave the impression of being nice and rather quiet young men,” said Albrecht, 38, “like totally normal foreign students.”

German police now believe the Marien Street apartment became the headquarters of a terrorist cell. The residence had a changing roster of tenants, and up to 20 Arab men gathered there three nights a week for meetings in dimly lit, sparsely furnished rooms.

Police believe at least two of the men who lived there — Atta and a later resident named Marwan Al-Shehhi, a United Arab Emirates citizen who enrolled at the same university in October 1999 to study electronics — were among the hijackers who crashed into the World Trade Center on flights that originated in Boston. FBI agents have arrived in Hamburg to investigate.

Atta, whose pursed-lipped image has now been seen by millions of Americans, studied town planning and urban development at the university’s faculty of construction engineering; his 1999 thesis for a master’s degree equivalent was on urban renewal, according to his supervisor, Prof. Dittmar Machule. Atta sold cars on the side to earn extra money.

Many cities in Europe and North America have sizeable Arab populations. Most members are peaceful and law-abiding, but scattered among many of the Arab communities, police say, are religious extremists. In Germany, many come as students but devote much of their time to such tasks as raising cash for secret organisations and producing false identification papers and passports.

Open to the world through its port, Hamburg has a particularly large Arab community — about 80,000 people in a population of 1.7 million — and, authorities say, an active fundamentalist underground. Reinhard Wagner, head of the Domestic Intelligence Service in Hamburg, said roughly 1,000 of 3,250 people in Germany whom authorities have identified as Arab extremists live here.

As the probe continues, German authorities say many signs point to their country. “It is highly likely that the clues needed to solve this (hijacking) mystery lie in student circles in Germany,” said Kay Nehm, chief federal prosecutor.

German investigators haven’t tied the Marien Street cell to Osama bin Laden, the Saudi fugitive who the US government suspects was behind the attacks. But they say his fundraisers have been active in the city.

Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, allegedly the financial chief for bin Laden’s al Qaida organisation, was arrested September 18, 1998, by police in the German state of Bavaria.

Two years later, on December 10, 2000, Germany’s elite GSG9 anti-terrorist unit stormed a home in Frankfurt and arrested four Islamic militants.

A further intelligence tip led to another Frankfurt arrest on April 11 this year of a bin Laden-connected extremist identified in Der Spiegel magazine as “Samir K”.

As the world has been transfixed by TV images from the US, the Arab community here has been anxious to distance itself from the violence.

“We are all very shocked,” said Zulhajrat Fejzullahi, an imam, whose congregation is mostly ethnic Albanian. At the city’s main Arab mosque, a woman said: “We have nothing to do with this. We have nothing to do with this.”

“I am very sad about what happened. Islam does not teach us to do these things. It teaches us to do very different things.” At the city’s main Arab mosque, a woman said: “We have nothing to do with this. We have nothing to do with this.”

Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service


Camp David, Sept. 15 (Reuters): 
President George W. Bush today declared “we’re at war” against those who staged devastating terror attacks on New York and Washington and vowed a sweeping and sustained military response.

In his strongest words since the aerial attacks, Bush began preparing Americans for what could be a long campaign against those responsible.

“We’re at war,” the President said as he met his national security advisers at the Camp David retreat, adding that the government would “smoke” those responsible “out of their holes” and bring them to justice.

A day after visiting ground zero where the wrecked ruins of the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York, shattered by two hijacked jetliners, entomb thousands, Bush made clear a response was on the way.

“We will find those who did it, we will smoke them out of their holes, we will get them running, and we will bring them to justice,” said Bush. “A group of barbarians have declared war on the American people,” he added.

Standing on a twisted piece of rubble amid cheers of “USA USA”, Bush had vowed yesterday the attackers “will hear all of us soon”.

In his weekly radio address, Bush said the perpetrators had “chosen their own destruction”.

“I will not settle for a token act. Our response must be sweeping, sustained and effective. We have much to do and much to ask of the American people. You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short,” he said.

“You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy. You will be asked for your strength because the course to victory may be long,” he said.

“Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organisations and those who harbour and support them,” he added.

Bush has received Congressional approval to use “all necessary and appropriate force” — just short of a declaration of war but one that allows Bush to strike.

Asked if he had a message for the reservists, Bush said: “The message is for everybody who wears the uniform — get ready. The United States will do what it takes to win this war.”

“There is a desire by the American people to not seek only revenge, but to win a war against barbaric behaviour, people that hate freedom and hate what we stand for,” he added.

Visiting ground zero on Friday, Bush was mobbed by weary rescuers offering him a warm welcome in front of the smoking ruins of the collapsed twin towers.

After shaking hands and slapping the backs of dozens of rescuers in hard hats, Bush climbed atop a soot-covered, gnarled remnant of a fire truck and addressed the throng through a bullhorn.

“I want you all to know that America this day is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, the workers who work here, for the families,” he yelled through the bullhorn, as rescuers on heavy machinery cheered nearby.

As chants of “USA!” erupted from the rescuers, Bush said: “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

“Thank you for your hard work, thank you for making the nation proud and may God bless America,” Bush said, standing with his arm around Bob Beckwith, a 69-year-old firefighter.

In a sign of support for Bush, thousands of New Yorkers lined 42nd Street and applauded as the presidential motorcade took him to a heliport for his return to Washington.

Arlene Howard of Long Island, whose policeman son was killed on Tuesday, offered Bush a precious memento — her son’s police badge, pulled off his body when it was recovered from the wreckage.


Washington, Sept. 15 (Reuters): 
The US has declared war on terrorism, but battling loose networks of small extremist cells spread through the world will require more than military bombardment of haven countries, analysts say.

While America has resolved to hunt down those behind this week’s crushing terror attacks, making a lasting impact on the problem will take more than simply bombing extremist training camps, the analysts said.

President George W. Bush, who has called this the first war of the 21st century, has no illusions about the fact that it will be, in his words, “a different kind of conflict against a different kind of enemy” requiring patience and endurance. “This is a conflict without battlefields or beachheads, a conflict with opponents who believe they are invisible. Yet they are mistaken. They will be exposed,” he said in his weekly radio address.

While the goal is lofty, realistically the threat of terrorism can never be wiped out as new extremist groups crop up to replace those removed, the analysts said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, a former general, acknowledged that this was no traditional war. “The enemy is in many places. The enemy is not looking to be found. The enemy is hidden,” he said on Friday. “It may well be that diplomatic efforts, political efforts, legal, financial, other efforts may be just as effective against that kind of an enemy as would military force,” he added.

Key steps will be forcing countries that harbour extremists to oust them and cut off financial flows into the groups’ coffers, the analysts said.

But a bombing campaign or even the killing of Osama bin Laden would not eradicate the disparate groups of terrorists that exist around the globe. But US officials have pledged to make it uncomfortable for countries to harbor known extremists.

Deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz said methods used in the past have not worked to stem extremist activities.

Analyst Mark Lowenthal said one goal was to put extremists on the run by removing the safe haven. “While people are on the run, it becomes harder and harder to plan,” he said.

US intelligence knows locations bin Laden frequents in Afghanistan, but “it’s hard to know where he’s going to be” far enough in advance to target him, a US official said. The fact that bin Laden is still free shows Washington has followed “an ineffective policy to deal with him,” said Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism official.

“We’ve treated terrorism as a law-enforcement problem, to catch perpetrators, and an intelligence problem, to give us warning. We haven’t done anything in a substantive way to go after the sources of terrorism,” he said.

The US should have done more to support the opposition in Afghanistan, Cannistraro said. “We didn’t do anything serious. We relied on economic sanctions on Afghanistan, which is a primitive country, and economic sanctions aren’t exactly going to bring it to its heels.”


Washington, Sept. 15: 
The combat air patrols flying over 30 major US cities since Tuesday are the first component of what is expected to be the largest mobilisation of the military to protect domestic airspace in US history.

Since about five hours after the attacks, air patrols of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets under the control of the North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD, have been flying over Washington, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and other cities, senior military officials said.

President Bush mobilised thousands more Air Force reservists on Thursday. A day earlier, secretary of transportation Norman Y. Mineta asked the military to train special forces to serve as marshals on commercial flights. But even as the mobilisation gets under way, air defence officials yesterday disclosed that they had tried to scramble fighter jets to try to reach two of the highjacked airplanes but were too late to play any role.

After Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center at 8.46 am, authorities scrambled two F-15 fighter jets from Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. But the second hijacked plane to strike the World Trade Center hit the tower at 9.02, far too soon for the fighters to have got close.

The Air Guard also scrambled two F-16s from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, at 9.35 am to respond to FAA alarms about the American Airlines Flight 77, which plunged into the Pentagon.

But the aircraft struck the building two minutes after the fighters took off. In an interview on the PBS programme Newshour, deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz said authorities were also tracking the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

“I think it was the heroism of the passengers on board that brought it down but the Air Force was in a position to do so if we had to,’’ Wolfowitz said.

Maj. Gen. Paul A. Weaver Jr., director of the Air National Guard, said that only the President could give the order for a US fighter to shoot down a commercial airliner filled with American travellers.

The air defence mobilisation efforts, meanwhile, reveal gaping holes in the nation’s system for protecting its skies. The military has never played a role in monitoring the movements of airplanes over the nation, unless they originate from abroad. And while at the height of the Cold War a host of Air Force fighter jets stood on active alert around the country to intercept hostile aircraft, the Air Force today is practically out of the interception business altogether.

Today, only 60 aircraft manned by active duty crews are on alert to intercept suspicious craft. There are about 200 more jets piloted by the Air Force National Guard, but they are not on 24-hour alert. In 1976, there were 374 such aircraft. In 1966, there were more than 600.

Although NORAD has since its inception in 1958 been responsible for preventing aircraft from abroad from invading US airspace, it does not monitor domestic flights at all.

“The explanation for not having a quick response is very simple,’’ said one Air Force general who has been fuming for months about Pentagon plans to reduce the size of the air defence force further. “We just didn’t take any of these threats seriously.’’

No longer. secretary of defence Donald H. Rumsfeld said combat planes are flying over the New York-Washington corridor to protect flights. Navy ships have been assigned to NORAD to patrol territorial waters and help monitor airspace. Canadian CF-18 fighter jets are also helping to patrol the skies under a binational agreement with the US.

While standard rules of engagement require the US and Canadian fighter pilots to first interrogate a suspicious aircraft and allow the crew to explain its intentions, NORAD spokeswoman Capt. Adriane Craig said that “shooting down an aircraft is absolutely not out of the question.’’

The nation’s system for monitoring the skies was developed in the cauldron of the Cold War, and has been dictated by Cold War thinking ever since. During World War II and in the years immediately afterward, an Air Force programme called the Air Defence Command had thousands of fighter jets on alert throughout the United States in case of a bomber attack. But in 1957, when the Soviets sent up the Sputnik satellite, the nature of the threat to the US appeared to change.

The concern that the Soviets would send bombers over the United States was supplanted by the fear that the enemy would launch intercontinental ballistic missiles. And in that, NORAD was born.

Encased a third of a mile within a Colorado mountain, under a million tons of dense granite designed to resist a nuclear attack, personnel assigned to NORAD still monitor giant radar images waiting for the telltale blip of an incoming air strike.

As money poured in over the decades to strengthen NORAD, it poured out of old-fashioned air defence programmes. Indeed, Pentagon planners had been debating until Tuesday’s attack whether to recommend that the number of fighter jets on ready alert in the US be drawn down even further in coming years. While defecse officials say a decision had not yet been made, a further reduction in air defences had been gaining currency in recent months among task forces assigned by Rumsfeld to put together recommendations for a reassessment of the military.

But even critics of such drawdowns said the military would have been hard-pressed to foresee an attack such as the one that took down the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon in the space of a few hours. “It would have been too incredible to imagine,’’ Thompson said. “It is a completely new threat fashioned out of existing options. We have simply never thought about it.’’

Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service


Islamabad, Sept. 15 (Reuters): 
He is the most secretive leader in the world. Not even a photograph of Afghanistan’s Mullah Mohammad Omar exists.

Omar is the spiritual leader of the Taliban movement that rules most of the rugged and inhospitable terrain of Afghanistan and provides sanctuary to the man shaping up as the world’s most wanted — Osama Bin Laden.

He is believed to have been seen by only two non-Muslims — and indeed by few of his own 20 million people. But his passion for hiding in the shadows has not hampered his swift and dramatic accumulation of power over a land so ravaged by war that its people have returned to a life more akin to the Middle Ages than the 21st century.

His rigid devotion to Islam is the force that governs his existence, and it is this faith that now rules the lives of Afghans.

Women are barred from education and must be covered from head to foot in public, all men must grow beards and photographs, pictures, music, television and other “entertainments” are banned.

“We took up arms to achieve the aims of the Afghan jihad (holy war) and save our people from further suffering at the hands of the so-called mujahideen,” he told one Pakistani reporter in a rare interview.

Omar’s leadership and the purist Taliban movement that grew up under that leadership were born together amid frustration and despair after years of internecine war among the factions of the mujahideen that had effectively defeated the Soviet Union and then turned on one another in 1992.

For two years, rival mujahideen commanders bombarded each other’s men with rockets, reducing their patchwork of commands throughout Kabul, to little more than rubble. Residents fled to Pakistan, the government broke down and Afghanistan crumbled into battling fiefdoms.

One story goes that in early 1994, Omar enlisted about 30 talibs — the word means student of Islam — after hearing that two teenage girls had been snatched from their village by a mujahideen commander and raped.

With 16 rifles among them, the group attacked the base, freed the girls and captured quantities of arms and ammunition.”

“We were fighting against Muslims who had gone wrong. How could we remain quiet when we could see crimes being committed against women and the poor,” Oman told Pakistani reporter Rahimullah Yusufzai — one of the few to interview the recluse.


West Point (New York), Sept. 15: 
Most cadets at the US Military Academy were here all summer, waging war games on the school’s 16,000 forested acres, preparing, perhaps, for careers as peacemakers or peacekeepers in Balkan hills not unlike the Hudson Highlands.

All of that changed on Tuesday morning, when freshmen serving as messengers sprinted from classroom to classroom, asking professors to turn on televisions. It seemed as if the nation was at war. But it was a war unlike anything in the 199-year-old academy’s textbooks or its museum of “militaria.’’

Not since Pearl Harbor had the campus been rocked so powerfully by events, senior officers said. But in 1941 the enemy was clearly defined: across an ocean, over the next ridge. Now everything was as grey as a cadet’s uniform. In her political and cultural anthropology class, Maj. Sonya L. Finley showed cadets slides of the carnage and described how their commander in chief, who was visiting the ruined World Trade Center yesterday, had called for a protracted campaign to wipe out terror.

“How do you fight this war and still stay true to the values of the United States?’’ she asked her seven-cadet class, six seniors and a junior seated in a tight circle. “Any ideas?’’

There was a long initial silence before the cadets began to feel their way into their future. “Our army isn’t organised to fight this kind of battle,’’ said Robert Decker Jr., from St. Petersburg, Florida. “This isn’t tanks rolling across the desert.’’

“Perfect point,’’ Finley said. “Who are the bad guys?’’ In classroom after classroom, instructors struggled to adjust their syllabuses to reflect questions like that, emphasising “non-state conflict’’ and “homeland defence,’’ and knotty issues of balancing national security with personal freedom.

“It is not enough for teachers to plow through the day’s lessons, thinking that by doing so, they establish a degree of normalcy that helps quell fear and instill calm,’’ Lt. Col. Robert L. Gordon III, director of the American politics section of the school’s social sciences department, told his colleagues in an e-mail message on Wednesday.

Cadets in Finley’s class wondered whether it was necessary to consider the nation’s democratic values in any response, or more important simply to unleash swift and sure retaliation.

“The best way to react right now is kind of like the British did in World War II, when they were being bombed but refused to let it shut them down,’’ said Jennifer Archambault of Manahawkin, New Jersey. John Rowold, from Chesterfield, Montana, advocated attacking the enemy from within. “One thing you could do is topple governments,’’ he said.

“We used to do it in South America every day.’’ Finally, Finley flashed a slide of a graph she had borrowed from another professor, who had drawn it hastily on Wednesday.

A downward curving line was liberty. An upward curving line was security. The question: “What is the proper balance?’’

“We were here,’’ she said, pointing to the side where individual freedoms dominated. “George Orwell’s 1984 is here,’’ she added, pointing to the opposite side. “Where are we after Tuesday?’’

Her question hung in the air.

At noon, cadets donned their capes against the first chill of late summer and headed to an outdoor prayer service.

New York Times News Service


New York, Sept. 15: 
Airline executives and analysts expressed grave concern for the industry yesterday, warning that mounting losses stemming from this week’s terrorist attacks could force most of the country’s major carriers into bankruptcy.

“This patient is dying very quickly,” Gordon M. Bethune, the chairman and chief executive of Continental Airlines, the fifth-largest carrier, said in a telephone interview, referring to the industry.

“We all are going to be bankrupt before the end of the year. There is not an airline that I know of that has the excess cash to handle this.’’ The industry’s losses are estimated at $100 million to $275 million a day since Tuesday, when the government grounded all flights for the first time ever.

The airlines were hoping that Congress would grant them $12.5 billion in loan guarantees and $2.5 billion in direct aid as part of a $40 billion emergency benefits package. Congress approved the package, but did not include relief for the airlines.

Bethune and others said the aid is desperately needed to help sustain airlines while they adjust to new security requirements, get their planes back in the air and try to lure back jittery travellers. But executives, industry analysts and consultants predicted that even with federal assistance, the industry would emerge much smaller than it was before Tuesday’s attacks. Large layoffs are now a virtual certainty.

“It’s a disaster,’’ said David Treitel, the chairman of SH&E, a prominent aviation consulting firm in Manhattan. He predicted that this week’s events would trim the industry’s sales by $15 billion over the next 12 months. That represents 16 per cent of ticket sales last year. With high fixed costs to pay for airplanes, employee salaries and fuel, airlines can rack up losses quickly if demand drops. As the airlines struggled yesterday to resume operations, passengers were sparse.

Continental flew 40 per cent of its schedule yesterday, for example, but only 40 per cent of the seats on those flights were filled, the airline said. About 30 per cent of passengers who booked tickets did not show up.

American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, said yesterday that it planned to return to only 80 per cent of the schedule it flew before the attacks. Other airlines also questioned whether they would be able to match their previous schedules. Security precautions adopted in the wake of the attacks will cut into the airlines’ business, too. They are now barred from carrying mail and cargo in the bellies of their passenger planes; that alone will cost the industry billions of dollars, experts said.

Even some of the industry’s staunchest critics are expressing concern. “We do have a crisis here,” said Kevin P. Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, which lobbies on behalf of the airlines’ largest corporate customers.

New York Times News Service


Sept. 15 (Reuters): 
Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is in the spotlight after the terror attacks in the US for its possible knowledge about suspected masterminds.

The ISI operates in the region with contacts reaching deep into Afghanistan and its Taliban rulers who have been sheltering Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, a key US suspect in Tuesday’s deadly attacks. Created in 1948, the Islamabad-headquartered ISI was, in the early days of Pakistan, a modest intelligence gathering agency for the armed forces.

It gained importance and power later, particularly during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and is now rated one of best-organised intelligence agencies in the developing world, seen as the Pakistani equivalent to Israel’s Mossad.

ISI chief Mahmood Ahmed was in Washington this week and met US officials after Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf assured US President George W. Bush of Islamabad’s “unstinted support” in a fight against terrorism.

During the resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, ISI was the main conduit for western and Arab arms and funds to the mujahideen guerrillas battling Soviet forces and helping to plan many of their operations. In recent years, the ISI has attracted criticism within Pakistan for promoting “terrorism” and using its expertise to prop up the Taliban.

India has accused the ISI of sponsoring “cross-border terrorism” by orchestrating the 11-year-old separatist revolt by militant groups in Kashmir.

Within Pakistan, critics accuse the ISI of meddling in politics, some responsibility in ethnic violence in the port city of Karachi and helping hardline Islamic groups to neutralise moderate political parties such as the Pakistan People’s Party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The size of the ISI, whose staff is mainly drawn from the army but includes staff from the navy and the air force as well as civilians, is not publicly known but it is widely believed to employ tens of thousands of agents, including many in the media.

Experts say if Pakistan, a Cold War-era US ally somewhat estranged in recent years, has to play a role in any retaliatory American operation in Afghanistan, the ISI will have a key part. Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister in late 1988 despite an alleged ISI plan to defeat her by cobbling together and funding a political alliance against her, sought to curtail the ISI’s role. She appointed a civilian, a retired army general, as its head.

But that effort, which envisaged giving civilian surveillance entirely to the government’s intelligence bureau and diminishing ISI’s foreign activities, proved ineffective because of her lack of authority over the military.


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