Gul doubts Khalid’s arrrest episode
ISLAMABAD: A grainy video purporting to show the arrest of two Al Qaeda leaders has done little to deflect accusations that Pakistan may have staged this month’s raid to give it leeway to abstain in a UN vote on an Iraq war.
On Monday, the powerful military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) held an unprecedented news conference to show foreign journalists what it said were images of a March 1 raid in Rawalpindi that netted Al Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But few of journalists present were convinced the video — which did not show Mohammed’s face nor any sign of a struggle — was genuine. Many said it looked like a crude reconstruction. .
On Tuesday, a former ISI chief said he believed Mohammed was actually arrested some time ago in a different city.
“They are trying to cover up,” Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul told Reuters. “I believe he was arrested before, probably in Karachi.”
One intelligence source said Mohammed had been arrested three days before, from the Tench Batta suburb of Rawalpindi. Rumours of Mohammed’s arrest had circulated in Pakistan for months, but were consistently denied.
Gul said news of the arrest appeared to have been leaked at a critical time, just as Pakistan was facing huge US pressure to support a UN Security Council vote authorising war on Iraq.
The ISI earlier said it had called its first news conference in Pakistan’s history to counter criticism in the Western media that it had not done enough in the war on terror. Gul said the raid may have been staged — and news of the arrest leaked — for the same reason, against the backdrop of the UN vote. .
Gul, who ran the ISI from 1987 to 1989, said the raid was conducted in far too casual a fashion to have been real, with police failing to properly surround or secure the house in a middle-class Rawalpindi suburb.
Relatives, neighbours contradict authorities: Relatives of Ahmed Quddus, the son of the house owner, have maintained he was the only man in the house at the time of the raid. Neighbours said they heard no sound of gunfire — contradicting the official account, which maintains that Mohammed shot one intelligence agent in the foot with an AK-47 rifle.
Within hours, news of the raid and arrest was leaked to foreign news agencies, something Gul also found incredible. “He has to be questioned, before you present him to the public eye,” he said. “You don’t present news like that.” —Reuters
Quddus remanded in judicial custody
ISLAMABAD: Safder Hussain Malik, judge of Anti Terrorism Court 2, Rawalpindi, on Tuesday remanded Ahmed Abdul Quddus in judicial custody for 14 days. Mr Quddus was arrested along with Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attack, though his family deny this. Malik Muhammad Afzal, SHO of Westridge Police station and investigation officer of the arrest case, told the court that an initial inquiry had been completed and police no longer require physical remand of the accused. The court sent the accused to Aadiala jail on judicial remand, and asked the investigation officer to produce the record of the case on March 25. Rafaqat Hussain Shah, the defence counsel of Mr Quddus, filed a bail application in court. —Staff Report