The 21st Century Phenomenon



Yesterday, 07/18/2007, the USA military authority in Iraq made public the arrest on 07/04/2007 of Khalid al-Mashadani, a senior lieutenant to Abu Ayyub al-Masri , the Al Qaeda “Amir” (commissioner)  in Iraq. His arrest was kept in complete secrecy.

Not like many other senior Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq, Khalid al-Mashadani had a unique knowledge about the communication between Al Qaeda leaders Ayman Al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden somewhere in the North West FATA mountainous area of Pakistan and the Al Qaeda leadership in Iraq as he, personally, was in charged of that channel of communication.

 “In fact, communication between senior al Qaeda leadership and Abu Ayyub al-Masri frequently went through Khalid al-Mashadani,” Gen’ Bergner, from USA Army headquarter in Iraq, said in the news conference when he announce the arrest.  

Actually the General said, between the lines, that for a brief period of time, while Khalid al-Mashadani arrest was, yet, unnoticed, in the days after the 07/04/2007, USA intelligence had direct access, through Al Qaeda communication system to Ayman Al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden.

If it is true, it sheds a new light on the Pakistani Lal Mosque crisis, which accelerated just after the arrest of Khalid al-Mashadani. According to some news two aids of Ayman Al Zawahiri arrived to the Lal Mosque in order to coordinate the Islamic militancy activities in Pakistan. It is reasonable that that information was obtained by CIA through the investigation and the use of Khalid al-Mashadani communication channel.

The Lal Mosque crisis in Pakistan led also to a military escalation in the confrontation with the tribes in the North West mountainous area of Pakistan, NWFP , on the border with Afghanistan, which claimed the life of over 100 Pakistani soldiers in the last week. Those tribes provided shelter to Ayman Al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden since operation Absolute Justice” in 12/2001 and fight vigorously to protect them. Such was the case in 09/2006 that after few weeks of bloodshed the Pakistani Army could not overcome the tribes and a cease fire was agreed upon on 09/05/2006.

On 07/15/2007 USA national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, spoke on ABC television about the USA backing of Pakistani military crackdown of al Qaeda and Taliban activity and made a remark – ”It has not worked the way he wanted” (he being President Bush).  It was said just a day after the USA Senate doubled the reward on Osama Bin Laden to 50$ Million.

Summary ; 

All the signs suggest that, for a brief moment, thanks to Khalid al-Mashadani arrest on 07/04/2007, there was a real opportunity to hunt down the two top to Al Qaeda leaders – Ayman Al Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden. This rare opportunity was missed by ISI and the Pakistani regime, as in previous cases, because of the ambiguousness of Pakistan.  Pakistan wants to be an ally to USA in the war on terror, on one hand, and not to pull the rope with its Islamic society to far and provoke an Islamic uprising and a civil war on the other hand. In such a confrontation the loyalty of the soldiers is far from granted.

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