New Delhi, Sept. 10: An Al Jazeera journalist has claimed that al Qaida has established a formidable network in Karachi where top aides of Osama bin Laden have been hiding since the Taliban regime was thrown out of power from Kabul by the US-initiated armed action last year.
The report, which was front-paged in the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, quoted Yosri Fouda of the Al Jazeera TV channel in London as saying he was given interviews by two top aides of Osama in Karachi recently as the al Qaida wanted to deliver a message to the world on the first anniversary of September 11 terrorist attacks in the US.
The report vindicates India’s charge that important members of the al Qaida are hiding in Pakistan and pose a serious threat to the joint operation launched by the US and the Pervez Musharraf regime against global terror.
Doubts have been raised in the US over Musharraf’s intention and ability to fight the al Qaida and other terrorist groups based on its soil.
There are indications that the presence of al Qaida leaders, not only in the tribal areas bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan but in other cities of Pakistan, and the way to fight them will be on the agenda when the Pakistan President and his US counterpart George W. Bush meet in New York later this week.
The Pakistani foreign office, however, brushed the report aside, calling it “totally speculative”.
On fixing a timeframe for the crackdown on the al Qaida in Pakistan, the spokesman of the foreign office pointed out that Islamabad has to remain vigilant. “It cannot allow any terrorist activity on or from its soil,” the spokesman said.
Fouda has said he met Khalid Shaikh and Ramzi Bimalshibh — top leaders of the al Qaida’s military wing and two of the most wanted men in the FBI’s list.
In their interview, the duo described in detail how the al Qaida had carried out the strikes on what they called a “Holy Tuesday” known to the rest of the world as “Terror Tuesday” — when they attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington a year ago.
There are signs that the US officials who want to have “conclusive talks” with Pakistani officials on al Qaida and Taliban fighters hiding in areas bordering Afghanistan hoped Islamabad would be able to “weed out” the fugitives believed to be there.