Friday, January 21, 2011

KSM and Pearl

As rumors start flying about bringing KSM back to federal court in the states, the WSJ reports on an interesting technology used to "prove" that KSM was the murderer of Daniel Pearl:
The Pearl Project's report details how U.S. officials used vein analysis—the mapping and comparison of vascular structures—to compare the picture of a hand seen in a video of the killing with pictures taken after Mr. Mohammed's capture and conclude that his confession was genuine and not a bit of self-promotion by a committed follower of Osama bin Laden.
The Pearl Project is an effort by one of Pearl's former colleagues at the WSJ (and author) Asra Nomani. Aside from the vein analysis their report also contains new information about how KSM came to be involved in the kidnapping, originally masterminded by a fellow name Omar Sheikh (if that name is familiar it's the one mentioned by the late Benazir Bhutto during an interview with David Frost where she claimed he had "killed" bin Laden. She almost certainly meant Daniel Pearl but it caused a bunch of wild conspiracies).

According to the Pearl Project the initial kidnappers were somewhat hapless and even close to releasing Pearl when suddenly 'al-Qaeda' was called in by somebody. The WaPo fills in more details:
According to the report, Mohammed told FBI interrogators at Guantanamo Bay that he received a call from Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian and a senior figure in al-Qaeda.
Which is pretty significant, since al-Adel is a very high-ranking member of the group--as high as KSM if not higher. He was at times mentioned as a liaison to Iran, staying in that country 'under house arrest' for nine years. From there he was apparently able to control Zarqawi in Iraq, saying in an email (still under house arrest, remember) that AQ had nothing to do with Saddam. Recent reports suggest he left Iran late last year to return to the Pakistani territories.

But the notion of hapless jihadies calling in the pros strikes a parallel with the first World Trade Center bombing. In that event a bunch of green American jihadists had been planning an attack as revenge for the jailing of Meir Kahane's killer when suddenly somebody called in terrorist mastermind Ramzi Yousef and an Iraqi-American named Abdul Yasin. Phone records showed numerous calls to Baghdad before this occurred, for what it's worth. Within months of their arrival the WTC had become the new target and on February 26--the anniversary of Kuwait gaining independence from the Iraq invasion forces--a huge hole was blown in its basement and 6 people were dead. Cyanide was also involved.

The Pearl Project describes KSM and accomplices as "pros" as well. One of those accomplices was Yousef's cousin Ammar al-Baluchi (what individual family has done more harm to America?). And to keep the world small, one of the FBI agents who ventured to Gitmo to get this information from KSM was Frank Pelligrino, who once led the international manhunt for Yousef in the mid 90s. It seems pretty clear that KSM's Baluchi family acted as a team of international jihadi killers for hire, a nasty bunch for sure and likely one of the reasons Baluchi's scientist wife Aafia Siddiqui was sent away for a long time. The big question is who or where this clan of killers actually pledged their allegiance.

The WaPo story closes with this:
The report said it is still unclear how Adel, who remains at large, was able to direct Mohammed to the kidnappers.
Yes it is, especially since Mr. Adel was most likely in Iran at the time. With all the wiki leaks flying around one might think we'd have some answers by now. At any rate, perhaps the timing of this revelation related to Mr. Pearl has something to do with getting the Mukhtar trial back on the mainland. We will see.

MORE 1/22/11

Why does the Pearl murder matter? After all, many journalists have died covering the GWoT and others have been kidnapped. The difference seems to be Pakistan. Pearl was chasing a link between shoe bomber Richard Reid (incarcerated at the Supermax despite failing to kill anyone at all) and a Pakistani Cleric, ie, the ISI or rogue elements thereof. Perhaps he didn't understand the import of that charge at the time.

Think of a story published in 2002 detailing a relationship between members of the Pakistani religious elite and terrorism against the US. Perhaps that reality would have been seen as worse to some than a brutal al Qaeda terrorist being involved; KSM is now seen as a bin Laden soldier rather than a freelance proxy terrorist for hire. Pin the crime on him and the Omar Sheikh connections tend to fade. Indeed, Sheikh's attorneys are pushing for retrial.

KSM made an interesting remark in his testimony at Gitmo:
He went on to say the killing was “not related” to Al Qaeda, but just to Pakistani “mujahedeen” groups. He said Pearl drew attention by seeking to track Richard Reid’s activities, and he repeated unfounded allegations that Pearl was working for the CIA and Israel’s Mossad.
Reportedly UBL didn't react positively to the beheading, thinking it went too far (as if the Trade Centers didn't) so perhaps KSM was trying to give his presumed 'boss' some cover while trying to leave the impression he was just trying to get rid of a Mossad agent for his Pakistani brothers.

And maybe that's all there is to it. But go back to al-Adel's phone call triggering KSM at the outset--"he said he wanted to make sure it’s an Al Qaeda thing,” according to sources familiar with the interview". Why? Opportunity comes to mind, but one would think such a plan would have to have been approved by bin Laden, who would have known what KSM would do. That doesn't fit with bin Laden being upset. So if UBL disapproved, who directed al-Adel to direct KSM?

Put another way, was he ordering KSM--based on orders from some entity above him--to put an AQ stamp on the kidnapping to protect a larger conspiracy involving heretofore unheralded actors in this GWoT thing? Keep in mind KSM's brother Zahid Mohammed, whereabouts unknown, reportedly had/has ties to high levels of the Pakistani government--at one time to include the former president. If so, should any of this tell us anything about the sudden appearance of KSM and family in the middle of almost all the terror events against America since 1993? Perhaps we can't handle the truth.

Speaking of family ties, one of the characters mentioned in the Pearl Project, Musaad Aruchi, aka Karim Yousef, is reportedly a cousin of Ramzi Yousef and the nephew of KSM. The PP says he was arrested in Karachi in 2004 but he's listed as unaccounted for after the closings of the secret prisons. According to some reports he claimed to be a member of Jund'allah, with whom the US and west have been accused of working with against the Iranians.

Some have said Aruchi is actually Adel Anon, Ramzi Yousef's twin brother, who is also whereabouts unknown. According to the NY Times he was arrested in the Philippines in 1995 after being suspected as part of the Bojinka plot (he was one of the terrorists who would be placing a micro-seat bomb on one of the 747s), yet if it's the same person he was evidently released only to be re-arrested in Karachi ten years later under another name. Very confusing.

One has to wonder how much of that kind of stuff, or this kind of stuff. or this, would come spilling out during a public trial for KSM.

No comments: