|Commentary: The real culprit of 9/11?
By Arnaud de Borchgrave
UPI Editor at Large
Washington, DC, Jul. 22 (UPI) -- On the eve of the publication of its report, the 9/11 Commission was given a stunning document from Pakistan, claiming that Pakistani intelligence officers knew in advance of the 9/11 attacks.
The document, from a high-level, but anonymous Pakistani source, also claims that Osama bin Laden has been receiving periodic treatment for dialysis in a military hospital in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province adjacent to the Afghan border.
The document was received by the Commission this week as its own report was already coming off the presses. The information was supplied to the Commission on the understanding that the unimpeachable source would remain anonymous.
The report received by the 9/11 Commission from the anonymous, well-connected Pakistani source, said: "The core issue of instability and violence in South Asia is the character, activities and persistence of the militarized Islamist fundamentalist state in Pakistan. No cure for this canker can be arrived at through any strategy of negotiations, support and financial aid to the military regime, or by a 'regulated' transition to 'democracy'."
The confidential report continued, "The imprints of every major act of international Islamist terrorism invariably passes through Pakistan, right from 9/11 -- where virtually all the participants had trained, resided or met in, coordinated with, or received funding from or through Pakistan -- to major acts of terrorism across South Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as major networks of terror that have been discovered in Europe."
Even before the 9/11 Commission received the report on Pakistan's role in the terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission's own report stated: "Pakistan was the nation that held the key to his (bin Laden's) ability to use Afghanistan as a base."
A spokesman for the Pakistani embassy categorically denied Thursday that Osama bin Laden had ever been treated "in any military hospital anywhere in Pakistan."
"The reports, based on unnamed intelligence sources, are usually a figment of the writer's imagination," Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan's deputy chief of mission in Washington told United Press International.
Asked to comment on the claim that Pakistan was aware of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks before they occurred, Sadiq said: "This is basically the recycling of old charges, the unproven old charges ... We have been working very closely with the U.S. administration and it is important to note that the U.S. administration also has always rejected these charges as false. No one seems to know these imaginary intelligence sources."
Pakistan is still denying President Pervez Musharraf knew anything about the activities of Dr. A.Q. Khan, the country's most prominent nuclear scientist who had spent the last 10 years building and running a one-stop global shopping center for "rogue" nations. North Korea, Iran and Libya did their shopping for nuclear weapons at Khan's underground black market outlet.
After U.S. and British intelligence painstakingly pieced together Khan's global nuclear proliferation endeavors, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was assigned last fall to inform Musharraf.
Khan, a national hero for giving Pakistan its nuclear arsenal, was not arrested. Instead, Musharraf pardoned him in exchange for an abject apology on national television in English. Few in Pakistan believed Musharraf's story that he was totally in the dark about Khan's operation. Prior to seizing power in 1999, Gen. Musharraf was -- and still is -- Army Chief of Staff. For the past five years, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence chief reported directly to Musharraf.
Osama bin Laden's principal Pakistani adviser prior to 9/11 was retired Gen. Hamid Gul, a former ISI chief who is "strategic adviser" to the coalition of six politico-religious parties that governs two of Pakistan's four provinces. Known as MMA, the coalition also occupies 20 percent of the seats in the federal assembly in Islamabad. Hours after 9/11, Gul publicly accused Israel's Mossad of fomenting the 9/11 plot. Later, Gul said the U.S. Air Force must have been in on the conspiracy as no warplanes were scrambled to shoot down the hijacked airliners.
Gul spent two weeks in Afghanistan immediately prior to 9/11. He denied having met Osama bin Laden during that trip, but has always said he was an "admirer" of the al-Qaida leader. However, he did meet with Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader, on several occasions.
Since 9/11, hardly a week goes by without Gul denouncing the U.S. in both the Urdu and English-language media.
In a conversation with this reporter in October 2001, Gul forecast a future Islamist nuclear power that would form a greater Islamic state with a fundamentalist Saudi Arabia after the demise of the monarchy.
Gul worked closely with the CIA du