CONFESSION OF KHALID KHAWAJA
* Khalid Khawaja was born in Pakistn in the late 40s’. He served in the Pakistani Air Force and reached the rank of squadron leader. In the late 80s’ Khalid Khawaja was dismissed from the Air Force after he wrote a letter to the then-president, General Zia ul-Haq, in which he called him a hypocrite for not enforcing Islam in Pakistan.
Khalid Khawaja then went to Afghanistan and allied himself to Osama Bin Laden as a recruiter and trainer of Pakistani fighters for the resistance against the Soviets. Khalid Khawaja became a part of the ISI apparatus which supported the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in cooperation with the CIA and, by the end of the war, one of the coordinators who helped to form the Taliban.
Khalid Khawaja gave, over time, several interviews to Asia Times Online in which he revealed how he had set up a meeting in Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s between Osama Bin Laden and then leader of the Pakistani opposition, Nawaz Sharif, to undermine Benazir Bhutto’s government. Her government fell in 1990 and Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister. Khalid Khawaja also revealed that in the late 1980s he passed on funds from Osama Bin Laden to a former Pakistani minister, Sheikh Rasheed, for the operation of training camps for Kashmiri separatists.
Khalid Khawaja has played an important role behind-the-scenes in both regional and national politics. Before the US Absolute Justice operation in Afghanistan in late 2001, he was a part of the back-room diplomacy between the USA and the Taliban, which failed miserably. He was a known critic of the role of the Pakistani Intelligence agencies after The 9/11, when Pakistan sided with the US in the “War on Terror”.
Khalid Khawaja was one of the few prominent people to openly provide assistance to Arab-Afghan families whose male members had been arrested or killed during operation Absolute Justice.
Khalid Khawaja’s name hit the headlines again in 02/2002 in connection with the kidnapping, torture and murder by militants of the American reporter Daniel Pearl. It was alleged that he was involved in the abduction at the behest of ISI.
Khalid Khawaja was arrested by the Pakistani authorities immediately after the Lal Mosque crisis, in early 07/2007, and spent several months in jail. He had been involved in talks with the government to prevent the military from moving into the mosque and he had assured the government that he would resolve the matter without force. However, the government intercepted some of his messages in which he apparently urged those inside the mosque not to surrender and he was arrested as a collaborator with the Lal Mosque operatives.
On 03/25/2010, Khalid Khawaja traveled to North Waziristan to interview Islamic militant commanders Sirajuddin Haqqani and Wali-ur Rehman Mehsud (L) (see -TTP-Crisis) allegedly working for the cause of missing people – mostly militants. He was accompanied by a British citizen, Asad Qureshi, a reporter with British Channel 4, and Colonel Ameer Sultan Tarrar, also a former long-time ISI official and once Pakistan’s consul-general in Herat in Afghanistan. Khalid Khawaja and his two associates were kidnapped by Islamic Militants. Asad Qureshi was freed, eventually, by his capturers in early 09/2010. The Pakistani authorities confirmed on Thursday 09/09/2010.
Col’ Ameer Sultan Tarrar (L), known also as “Colonel Imam”, was instrumental in helping raise the Taliban militia, he trained present Taliban leader Mullah Omar and other top Afghan leaders, including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the slain Northern Alliance leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud. “Colonel Imam” is widely referred to as the “Father of the Taliban”.
Soon after their disappearance, Punjabi militants calling themselves the “Asian Tigers” sent a video to the media in which they demanded a ransom of US$10 million for the release of Asad Qureshi, the freedom of Taliban leaders Mullah Baradar and Mansoor Dadullah in exchange for Khalid Khawaja and Colonel Imam.
The Afghan Taliban distanced themselves from the kidnappings and their spokesman Zabiullah Muhajahid said they were working for the release of the two (Khalid Khawaja and Colonel Imam).
On Saturday 04/24/2010, in a five parts video footage in Urdu, sent to Asia Times Online by an Al Qaeda-linked group of militants from the Pakistani North Waziristan tribal area, appeared to have been heavily edited, Khalid Khawaja confessed he played a double game by deceiving a radical cleric into being arrested during the Lal Mosque crisis in 06/2007.
According to Khalid Khawaja by mid-2007, the Lal Mosque students had become increasingly aggressive. The campaign took a turn for the worse when the students seized a suspected brothel owner in the Aapara area, where both the Taliban-supporting Lal Mosque and the ISI were situated.
Khalid Khawaja claimed in the footages he hatched a plan with Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, the chief of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (the largest Islamic party in Pakistan), the Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Rafi Usmani, and other scholars to eliminate the Lal Masjid movement from Islamabad.
Khalid Khawaja said he telephoned Maulana Abdul Aziz and lured him into being arrested. “I called Maulana Abdul Aziz and forced him to come out of the mosque wearing a woman’s veil and gown, and that’s how I got him arrested,” Khalid Khawaja described. Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, his brother, was killed in the military raid on the mosque in which scores of militants also died.
Khalid Khawaja confirmed that top Jihadi commanders were ISI’s proxies and were given a free hand to collect funds. Leaders such as Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, and others operated with the financial cooperation of the Pakistani secret services and they were allowed to collect funds inside Pakistan – Khalid Khawaja said in the video. His alleged testimony contradicted his real role in the crisis.
* Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud was killed. on 05/29/2013, by an US UAV missiles attack in North Waziristan, in the village of Chashma near Miranshah, alongside three other militants.