Not a daughter of Pakistan

By Saba Imtiaz, April 7, 2010 Share

On March 23 -- which is Pakistan Day -- Pride of Performance awards are conferred upon accomplished individuals from various sectors, including artists, actors, poets, writers and musicians. This March, as the country's officials handed out awards to sportsmen and social workers, another award ceremony took place.

Aafia Siddiqui's family announced that they would confer the "Dr. Aafia Pride of Performance" awards on individuals and organizations, including journalist Yvonne Ridley, nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rehman Malik.

While Mr. Malik "returned the [award] with thanks," Yvonne Ridley accepted the award in Karachi, where Siddiqui's family has been campaigning for her release from a U.S. jail.

The irony -- that a citizen of Pakistan who was convicted of attempted murder in the United States has a "pride of performance" award under her aegis -- does not appear to be a source of consternation in Pakistan, where Aafia Siddiqui has become a symbol of national pride.

When Siddiqui was convicted this February in a New York court, Pakistan leapt into a state of uproar, outdoing its own previous attempts to make Siddiqui a national hero. Protests were held, television channels dubbed her a "daughter of Pakistan" and the ever-present resentment against the United States grew to fever-pitch levels as effigies of U.S. President Barack Obama and the American flag were burned in the streets. Politicians demanded that the case be appealed and Siddiqui be brought ‘home', and the issue dominated the Pakistani press.

Her indictment in 2008 -- which rattles off a number of crimes that had an American committed in Pakistan would have enraged Pakistanis to unfathomable levels -- has not bothered her supporters. Aafia Siddiqui represents everything that people believe is wrong with the War on Terror. In a country that has been ravaged by bomb blasts, kidnappings, beheadings and public lashings at the hands of extremists, nothing has elicited as strong a response as the strange case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. (As quick background, she was convicted on two counts of attempted murder and several counts of armed assault after shooting at a U.S. Army officer who was attempting to interview her after she was arrested on suspicion of terrorist plotting in Afghanistan in the summer of 2008.)

Pakistan is a country that is easily swayed by self-righteous sentiment, enforced strongly by lurid visuals of Aafia Siddiqui's face, her sister Fouzia Siddiqui's impassioned speeches, and images of Siddiqui's 13-year-old son. The rumors about Siddiqui's alleged mistreatment at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan range from accusations that she was "molested and sexual abused by her captors" to her having "no privacy when it comes to toilet and shower facilities," according to Ridley.

The rumors -- fuelled by stories repeated ad nauseam in the Pakistani press -- have made Siddiqui a folk hero. They have become part of the legend that surrounds her, so much so that they are repeated as established facts by her supporters, who have helped build her iconic status as Prisoner 650, the "Grey Lady of Bagram," and now a "daughter of Pakistan." One would believe that the pride the country feels in a woman (who decided to shoot at U.S. officials and allegedly was linked to al Qaeda and hurled offensive remarks in a courtroom) is rather odd, given that there are countless other individuals and organizations that deserve the country's support.

But the rumors about Siddiqui's mistreatment inspire a convenient dose of anti-U.S. sentiment, the kind that political parties in the country have used for decades to channel public resentment and frustration into power at the ballot box.

Bombed schools and streets strewn with human remains don't have quite the same impact. Years of terrorist attacks have yet to elicit the same united front that the Pakistani government and opposition parties have put up for the woman they call a "daughter" of the country. They are in illustrious company: the Afghan Taliban is an advocate for her, as was the Jordanian suicide bomber Hummam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who said:

We never forget our prisoners and we will never forget Afia Siddiqui and Sajida Rishawi and our jihad, Inshallah, will continue, until we free our prisoners and until the word of Allah prevails."

Surprisingly, yet another factor that has not drawn even half as much consternation, is how much the government of Pakistan spent on Siddiqui's legal defense. Pakistanis are obsessed with the country's corrupt politicians, as evidenced by the public interest in the National Reconciliation Order case, the fervent discussions online, in roadside cafes and salons about the amount of property owned by the country's politicians, and the frequent chain e-mails one receives with photographs of property bought from government funds by politicians.

But these concerns all fall by the wayside when it comes to saving the woman who represents Pakistan's honor: Aafia Siddiqui.  

Pakistan's priorities, at a time when thousands of citizens behind bars await trials and civic problems such as the electricity supply shortfall have made life miserable for millions, are skewed. The government reportedly allocated $2 million for Siddiqui's defense, and announced after her conviction that they would work towards an appeal as well. That totals Rs 160m, which is an amount a supporter of Siddiqui will never see being spent on them by the government. That funding could have been used to rebuild infrastructure, for victims of the actual conflict in Pakistan, for any number of the serious issues that Pakistan faces at this moment.

But even though the casualties of the conflict in Pakistan -- whether in Peshawar or Karachi -- are increasingly our neighbors and family and friends, the "pride" of this country lies in the hands of a woman who, for all we know, was working to destabilize the region by working with militants. That those behind the "Dr Aafia Pride of Performance" award also plan to confer an award on the "Father of the Bomb," disgraced nuclear scientist Dr. A.Q. Khan, is just another irony in this oft-ludicrous state of affairs in Pakistan.

Saba Imtiaz works for The Express Tribune, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan.




9:24 PM ET

April 7, 2010

Read Moazzam Begg's account

Read Moazzam Begg's account of it.

It is not clear what happened. Let's not pretend all our actions have been those of angels.



10:52 PM ET

April 7, 2010

How did you do it, FP?

Congratulations, FP, for finding a Pakistani willing to condemn Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, as against 180 million Pakistanis who consider her conviction a travesty.

For years the US denied they knew anyone by that name. Then she suddenly showed up, was tried and convicted.

Also convicted was Nat Turner. And remember Dred Scott? And, though never tried in a US court, we DID consider Nelson Mandela a terrorist, didn't we?



4:06 AM ET

April 8, 2010

Oh please, put a sock in it.

Oh please, put a sock in it. There are plenty of Pakistanis, like me, who agree with Saba Imtiaz's point of view and consider this entire Aafia affair to be a waste of time. There is much evidence that points towards Aafia Siddiqui being a deeply disturbed woman who became involved in the messy world of international jihad and jeopardized the lives of her children. Who in their right mind travels to Afghanistan with their children? Well I guess, a wannabe terrorist might.

I work as a lawyer in Karachi and I implore you to pay a visit to the city courts, you'll find hundreds of alleged juvenile offenders handcuffed together being paraded like cattle, they languish in jail while their cases, many of which are petty offenses, remain pending for years. Do you have any idea how many wrongly incarcerated people could be helped with Rs. 160 million?



11:35 PM ET

April 7, 2010

Pakistanis are full of it

Why is it surprising that Pakistanis take pride in the actions of an attempted murderess?

They also take pride in
a) the underhanded way in which A.Q.Khan sold nuclear secrets (proof: they disallow access to him and after INCREDIBLE pressure put him under house arrest.)

b) the murderous Taliban regime that converted soccer stadiums to execution grounds in Afghanistan (proof: the fact that they were one of only 3 countries that supported the Taliban regime.)

c) terrorists in Afghanistan today (freedom fighters if you ask someone in Pakistan) like Haqqani, Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar (proof: their continued existence on THEIR side of the border where they will not allow our soldiers to go and which they claim they don't control anyways...)

d) terrorists in Kashmir like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (proof: despite being banned by the UN, their head honcho was able to give speeches involving tens of thousands of low life fundamentalists in Lahore - not a small town)

Most Pakistanis believe that:
a) 9/11 was perpetrated by the US on itself
b) the Mumbai attacks were perpetrated by India on herself
c) freedom fighters are different from terrorists and should be treated differently.

So once again, why is it surprising that they consider this murderous woman to be a "daughter of Pakistan"?



5:55 AM ET

April 8, 2010

Hindoo Indians are full of it

Mr. Kookbhi,

Regarding your gem " freedom fighters are different from terrorists and should be treated differently."

How do you explain Hindoo Indian hypocrisy while egging Pakistan to launch itself into a perpetual civil war for the sake of half-brained Americans whilst they want to do NOTHING about their own and very similar problems:

"India says it has no plans to deploy troops to fight Maoists, a day after rebels killed 76 paramilitary police.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said central paramilitary and state police forces could deal with the threat, but did not rule out using the air force.

Mr Chidambaram urged calm and patience on a visit to central Chhattisgarh state, where the attacks took place. "




10:11 AM ET

April 8, 2010



11:51 AM ET

April 8, 2010

Hindoo Indian hypocrites

I will answer the question that you were failed to answer: Hindoo Indians are hypocrites.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander: Send your Hindoo Indian army to fight your Naxalites/Maoists and start your own civil war in your India instead of preaching nonsense to Pakistan.

And stop being a hypcrite.



10:42 PM ET

April 8, 2010

Irrelevant again...

What India (Hindu or not) does/does not do is irrelevant. Dr. Aafia is not Indian.
She has committed offenses for which she was found guilty.

Pakistanis (like yourself) are the ones who are taking up her cause based on conspiracy theories which abound in Pakistan. Pakistani perceptions and theories (like the ones I mentioned) are found laughable all over the world EXCEPT in Pakistan.

You can call everyone in the world an RAW agent or a CIA agent or Zionist or whatever your "sources" tell you. These same "sources" talk about setting up a Caliphate without being able to hold on to 50% of their population. You do need to "wake up" but not the way your "sources" tell you. Does that sound familiar? It should...



2:28 PM ET

April 9, 2010

Keep pedaling your Hindoo

Keep pedaling your Hindoo Indian propaganda.

It serves no purpose other than to fool a few Americans for a short amount of time till they come back to their senses.

You know in your heart of hearts that your time is up in Afghanistan and soon you will be scurrying back to India whilst licking your wounds.



5:46 AM ET

April 8, 2010

Prime Minister of Pakistan called Aafia “daughter of the nation”

The elected Prime Minister of Pakistan called Aafia Siddiqui “daughter of the nation”. He speaks more for the Pakistani nation than some non-descript characters voicing their opinons here.

For those who want to do some soul searching should at a minimum read the referenced sources as outlined in the following clip:

"Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani described Siddiqui as a “daughter of the nation,” and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif promised to push for her release.[13] On February 18, President Asif Ali Zardari requested of Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, that the U.S. consider repatriating Siddiqui to Pakistan under the Pakistan-U.S. Prisoner Exchange Agreement.[112][113]

On February 22, the Pakistani Senate passed a resolution expressing its grave concern over Siddiqui's sentence, and demanding that the government take effective steps including diplomatic measures to secure her immediate release.[114]

Shireen Mazari, editor of the right-wing Pakistani newspaper The Nation, wrote that the verdict "did not really surprise anyone familiar with the vindictive mindset of the U.S. public post-9/11".[115]

Foreign Policy reported that rumors about her alleged sexual molestation and sexual abuse by captors, fuelled by constant stories in the Pakistani press, had made her a folk hero, and "become part of the legend that surrounds her, so much so that they are repeated as established facts by her supporters, who have helped build her iconic status".[116]

Steve Inskeep of National Public Radio noted on March 1 that while when Siddiqui's case has been covered in the U.S., it has mostly been described as a straightforward case of terrorism, in contrast when "the Pakistani media described this very same woman, this very same case, the assumptions are all very different".[117]

The News International, Pakistan's largest circulation English newspaper, carried a March 3 letter from Talat Farooq, the executive editor of the magazine Criterion in Islamabad, in which she wrote:

The media has highlighted her ordeal without debating the downside of her story in objective detail. A whole generation of Pakistanis, grown up in an environment that discourages critical analysis and dispassionate objectivity ... has ... allowed their emotions to be exploited. The Aafia case is complex... The grey lady is grey precisely because of her murky past and the question mark hanging over her alleged links to militants.... Her family's silence during the years of her disappearance, and her ex-husband's side of the story, certainly provide fodder to the opposing point of view.... The right-wing parties ... have once again played the card of anti-Americanism to attain their own political ends.... Our hatred of America, based on some very real grievances, also serves as a readily available smokescreen to avoid any rational thinking.... The response of the religious political lobby to Aafia's plight is symbolic of our social mindset.[118]

A New York Times article reviewing the Pakistani reaction noted: "All of this has taken place with little national soul-searching about the contradictory and frequently damning circumstances surrounding Ms. Siddiqui, who is suspected of having had links to Al Qaeda and the banned jihadi group Jaish-e-Muhammad. Instead, the Pakistani news media have broadly portrayed her trial as a “farce”, and an example of the injustices meted out to Muslims by the United States since Sept. 11, 2001."[13]

Jessica Eve Stern, a terrorism specialist and lecturer at Harvard Law School, observed: "Whatever the truth is, this case is of great political importance because of how people [in Pakistan] view her."[49]"




6:13 AM ET

April 8, 2010

YOur Atttention required on the following article of Asiatimes

Ms. Saba Imtiaz, i hope you will also have the answers of the following questions in your bag. Pls unfold the secret of 9/11 drama.

Fifty questions on 9/11
By Pepe Escobar

It was September 11 all over again - eight years on. The George W Bush administration is out. The "global war on terror" is still on, renamed "overseas contingency operations" by the Barack Obama administration. Obama's "new strategy" - a war escalation - is in play in AfPak. Osama bin Laden may be dead or not. "Al-Qaeda" remains a catch-all ghost entity. September 11 - the neo-cons' "new Pearl Harbor" - remains the darkest jigsaw puzzle of the young 21st century.

It's useless to expect US corporate media and the ruling elites' political operatives to call for a true, in-depth investigation into the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Whitewash has been the norm. But even establishment highlight Dr Zbig "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has admitted to the US Senate that the post-9/11 "war on terror" is a "mythical historical narrative".

The following questions, some multi-part - and most totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission - are just the tip of the immense 9/11 iceberg. A hat tip goes to the indefatigable work of;; architects and engineers for 9/11 truth; the Italian documentary Zero: an investigation into 9/11; and Asia Times Online readers' e-mails.
None of these questions has been convincingly answered - according to the official narrative. It's up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable.
Fifty questions
1) How come dead or not dead Osama bin Laden has not been formally indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as responsible for 9/11? Is it because the US government - as acknowledged by the FBI itself - has not produced a single conclusive piece of evidence?
2) How could all the alleged 19 razor-blade box cutter-equipped Muslim perpetrators have been identified in less than 72 hours - without even a crime scene investigation?
3) How come none of the 19's names appeared on the passenger lists released the same day by both United Airlines and American Airlines?
4) How come eight names on the "original" FBI list happened to be found alive and living in different countries?
5) Why would pious jihadi Mohammed Atta leave a how-to-fly video manual, a uniform and his last will inside his bag knowing he was on a suicide mission?
6) Why did Mohammed Atta study flight simulation at Opa Locka, a hub of no less than six US Navy training bases?
7) How could Mohammed Atta's passport have been magically found buried among the Word Trade Center (WTC)'s debris when not a single flight recorder was found?
8) Who is in the possession of the "disappeared" eight indestructible black boxes on those four flights?
9) Considering multiple international red alerts about a possible terrorist attack inside the US - including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's infamous August 6, 2001, memo - how come four hijacked planes deviating from their computerized flight paths and disappearing from radar are allowed to fly around US airspace for more than an hour and a half - not to mention disabling all the elaborate Pentagon's defense systems in the process?
10) Why the secretary of the US Air Force James Roche did not try to intercept both planes hitting the WTC (only seven minutes away from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey) as well as the Pentagon (only 10 minutes away from McGuire)? Roche had no less than 75 minutes to respond to the plane hitting the Pentagon.
11) Why did George W Bush continue to recite "My Pet Goat" in his Florida school and was not instantly absconded by the secret service?
12) How could Bush have seen the first plane crashing on WTC live - as he admitted? Did he have previous knowledge - or is he psychic?
13) Bush said that he and Andrew Card initially thought the first hit on the WTC was an accident with a small plane. How is that possible when the FAA as well as NORAD already knew this was about a hijacked plane?
14) What are the odds of transponders in four different planes be turned off almost simultaneously, in the same geographical area, very close to the nation's seat of power in Washington, and no one scrambles to contact the Pentagon or the media?
15) Could defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld explain why initial media reports said that there were no fighter jets available at Andrews Air Force Base and then change the reports that there were, but not on high alert?
16) Why was the DC Air National Guard in Washington AWOL on 9/11?
17) Why did combat jet fighters of the 305th Air Wing, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey not intercept the second hijacked plane hitting the WTC, when they could have done it within seven minutes?
18) Why did none of the combat jet fighters of the 459th Aircraft Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, only 16 kilometers away? And since we're at it, why the Pentagon did not release the full video of the hit?
19) A number of very experienced airline pilots - including US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former fighter jet pilot - revealed that, well, only crack pilots could have performed such complex maneuvers on the hijacked jets, while others insisted they could only have been accomplished by remote control. Is it remotely believable that the hijackers were up to the task?
20) How come a substantial number of witnesses did swear seeing and hearing multiple explosions in both towers of the WTC?
21) How come a substantial number of reputed architects and engineers are adamant that the official narrative simply does not explain the largest structural collapse in recorded history (the Twin Towers) as well as the collapse of WTC building 7, which was not even hit by a jet?
22) According to Frank de Martini, WTC's construction manager, "We designed the building to resist the impact of one or more jetliners." The second plane nearly missed tower 1; most of the fuel burned in an explosion outside the tower. Yet this tower collapsed first, long before tower 2 that was "perforated" by the first hit. Jet fuel burned up fast - and by far did not reach the 2000-degree heat necessary to hurt the six tubular steel columns in the center of the tower - designed specifically to keep the towers from collapsing even if hit by a Boeing 707. A Boeing 707 used to carry more fuel than the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 that actually hit the towers.
23) Why did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instantly authorized the shipment of WTC rubble to China and India for recycling?
24) Why was metallic debris found no less than 13 kilometers from the crash site of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania? Was the plane in fact shot down - under vice president Dick Cheney's orders?
25) The Pipelineistan question. What did US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain talk about over the phone on October 10, 2001, with the oil minister of Pakistan? Was it to tell him that the 1990s-planned Unocal gas pipeline project, TAP (Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/ Pakistan), abandoned because of Taliban demands on transit fees, was now back in business? (Two months later, an agreement to build the pipeline was signed between the leaders of the three countries).
26) What is former Unocal lobbyist and former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad up to in Afghanistan?
27) How come former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Niak said in mid-July 2001 that the US had already decided to strike against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban by October? The topic was discussed secretly at the July Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, according to Pakistani diplomats.
28) How come US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told FBI agent John O'Neill in July 2001 to stop investigating al-Qaeda's financial operations - with O'Neill instantly moved to a security job at the WTC, where he died on 9/11?
29) Considering the very intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Bin Laden alive, dead or still a valuable asset of the ISI, the CIA or both?
30) Was Bin Laden admitted at the American hospital in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 4, 2001, after flying from Quetta, Pakistan, and staying for treatment until July 11?
31) Did the Bin Laden group build the caves of Tora Bora in close cooperation with the CIA during the 1980s' anti-Soviet jihad?
32) How come General Tommy Franks knew for sure that Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora in late November 2001?
33) Why did president Bill Clinton abort a hit on Bin Laden in October 1999? Why did then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf abort a covert ops in the same date? And why did Musharraf do the same thing again in August 2001?
34) Why did George W Bush dissolve the Bin Laden Task Force nine months before 9/11?
35) How come the (fake) Bin Laden home video - in which he "confesses" to being the perpetrator of 9/11 - released by the US on December 13, 2001, was found only two weeks after it was produced (on November 9); was it really found in Jalalabad (considering Northern Alliance and US troops had not even arrived there at the time); by whom; and how come the Pentagon was forced to release a new translation after the first (botched) one?
36) Why was ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad abruptly "retired" on October 8, 2001, the day the US started bombing Afghanistan?
37) What was Ahmad up to in Washington exactly on the week of 9/11 (he arrived on September 4)? On the morning of 9/11, Ahmad was having breakfast on Capitol Hill with Bob Graham and Porter Goss, both later part of the 9/11 Commission, which simply refused to investigate two of its members. Ahmad had breakfast with Richard Armitage of the State Department on September 12 and 13 (when Pakistan negotiated its "cooperation" with the "war on terror") and met all the CIA and Pentagon top brass. On September 13, Musharraf announced he would send Ahmad to Afghanistan to demand to the Taliban the extradition of Bin Laden.
38) Who inside the ISI transferred US$100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2001 - under orders of Ahmad himself, as Indian intelligence insists? Was it really ISI asset Omar Sheikh, Bin Laden's information technology specialist who later organized the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi? So was the ISI directly linked to 9/11?
39) Did the FBI investigate the two shady characters who met Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in Harry's Bar at the Helmsley Hotel in New York City on September 8, 2001?
40) What did director of Asian affairs at the State Department Christina Rocca and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef discuss in their meeting in Islamabad in August 2001?
41) Did Washington know in advance that an "al-Qaeda" connection would kill Afghan nationalist commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, aka "The Lion of the Panjshir", only two days before 9/11? Massoud was fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda - helped by Russia and Iran. According to the Northern Alliance, Massoud was killed by an ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda axis. If still alive, he would never have allowed the US to rig a loya jirga (grand council) in Afghanistan and install a puppet, former CIA asset Hamid Karzai, as leader of the country.
42) Why did it take no less than four months before the name of Ramzi Binalshibh surfaced in the 9/11 context, considering the Yemeni was a roommate of Mohammed Atta in his apartment cell in Hamburg?
43) Is pathetic shoe-bomber Richard Reid an ISI asset?
44) Did then-Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence tell the CIA in 2001 that 25 terrorist pilots had been training for suicide missions?
45) When did the head of German intelligence, August Hanning, tell the CIA that terrorists were "planning to hijack commercial aircraft?"
46) When did Egyptian President Mubarak tell the CIA about an attack on the US with an "airplane stuffed with explosives?"
47) When did Israel's Mossad director Efraim Halevy tell the CIA about a possible attack on the US by "200 terrorists?"
48) Were the Taliban aware of the warning by a Bush administration official as early as February 2001 - "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs?"
49) Has Northrop-Grumman used Global Hawk technology - which allows to remotely control unmanned planes - in the war in Afghanistan since October 2001? Did it install Global Hawk in a commercial plane? Is Global Hawk available at all for commercial planes?
50) Would Cheney stand up and volunteer the detailed timeline of what he was really up to during the whole day on 9/11?
More questions on 9/11
By Pepe Escobar
Osama "dead or alive" bin Laden would rather lose his kidney than pass up the opportunity to celebrate the eighth anniversary of September 11, 2001, on the United States. And like clockwork, he resurfaced in an 11-minute, al-Sahab-produced audiotape last week (sorry, no video, just a still picture), where he states how a series of grievances had "pushed us to undertake the events of [September 11]".

But there may be no mobile dialysis machine operating in a mysterious cave somewhere in one of the Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan after all. According to David Ray Griffin's new book, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? and based on a Taliban leader's remarks at the time, the mellifluous Saudi jihadi died of kidney failure in Tora Bora on December 13, 2001. Problem is, by that time, according to local mujahideen, Bin Laden had already escaped across the mountains with a bunch of al-Qaeda diehards to Parachinar, in Pakistan, and then to a shadowy underworld.
A decoy? A ghost? The devil himself? Who cares? Bin Laden, the brand, is still very good for ("war on terror") business. All this with the Barack Obama administration insisting the US is fighting the elusive, seemingly eternal Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the Taliban plus al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, while General Stanley McChrystal - General David Petraeus' former top death squad operator in Iraq - insists there is no al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (but he wants up to 40,000 extra troops anyway).

Last week, Asia Times Online published Fifty Question on 9/11. The article stressed the questions were only a taste of the immense, mysterious 9/11 riddle. (Arguably the best 9/11 timeline on the net may be seen here.

Due to overwhelming reader response, here's a follow-up with 20 more questions - with a hat-tip to all who joined the debate.

1. In the first months of 2001, three years after Bin Laden's 1998 fatwa against the US, Mullah Omar wanted to "resolve or dissolve" the Osama-Taliban nexus in exchange for Washington maneuvering to lift United Nations sanctions. Would anyone from the first George W Bush administration confirm a solid Taliban offer? Kabir Mohabbat, a Houston-based, Paktia (Afghanistan)-born businessman also involved in the (failed) 1990s negotiation for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan pipeline, and then named by Bush's National Security Council as a key Taliban contact, has sustained that was the case.

2. Eight names on the "original" Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) list of 19 Muslim hijackers happened to be found alive and living in different countries; the FBI has always sustained that the identity of the hijackers was established from DNA collected at all four sites - the World Trade Center (WTC), the Pentagon and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, crash site. Would the FBI explain how is that remotely possible?

3. All four planes referenced in the official narrative have thousands of parts with a serial number, plus tail numbers. Any one of these would have been enough to identify the plane(s). How come all of these parts disintegrated or vaporized? Why was not a single one of them recovered and/or matched up with all the mass of data about these four flights?

4. How come cell phones miraculously find a signal and work properly at 10,000 meters?

5. How to explain the enormous surge in "option puts" on both United Airlines and American Airlines on September 10?

6. How come the passport of alleged hijacker Satam al Suqami (and not Mohammed Atta, as reported) was miraculously found amid massive World Trade Center debris - either by "police and FBI" or by "a passerby who gave it to the NYPD", according to different versions?

7.Why was a military grade of thermite - a super-explosive - found at all sample sites surrounding Ground Zero? A peer-reviewed, scientific journal analysis is here.

8. How come Barry Jennings, who worked for New York City's Housing Department, reported on 9/11 to ABC News how he heard an explosion on the 8th floor of WTC 7? Jennings happened to die just a few days before the release of the NIST report on the WTC 7 collapse. A great number of actual 9/11 witnesses also heard and saw explosions going off inside the Twin Towers long before their collapse. A montage of news reports about these explosions can be seen here.

9. Why did the BBC confirm live on air the collapse of the WTC 7 building - which was not even hit by any plane - no less than 23 minutes before it actually collapsed? In the BBC live report, the WTC7 building is shot still standing.

10. Why there has been no investigation of Dov Zakheim? He was a prominent member of the Project for the New American Century group, and chief executive officer of SPC - a company making systems for remote control of airplanes - for four years prior to 9/11. Six months before 9/11, he became supervisor of a group of Pentagon comptrollers responsible for tracking no less than $2.3 trillion missing from the Pentagon books; many of these comptrollers died on 9/11.

11. The "five dancing Israelis" question. How come Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari, Paul Kurzberg, Sivan Kurzberg and Yaron Shmuel had set up a video camera on top of their white van pointing at the Twin Towers even before they were hit? Later they were seen celebrating. The FBI established that two were Mossad agents and that their employer, Urban Moving Systems, was a front operation. The investigation about them was killed by the White House. After being deported from the US, they admitted on Israeli TV that they had been sent to New York to "document" the attacks. How about other reports of vans packed with tons of explosives intercepted on New York bridges?

12. How come two US employees of Odigo, an Israeli instant messaging company based in Herzliya, the headquarters of Mossad, received an SMS about an attack on the WTC two hours before the fact?

13. How come there was no investigation of ICTS International, owned by Ezra Harel and Menachem Atzmon, and crammed with former Israeli Shin Bet agents? This was the company responsible for airport security at Dulles, Logan and Newark airports on 9/11.

14. Why was there no full investigation of the circumstances related to how Larry Silverstein leased the WTC only seven weeks before 9/11 - as facilitated by New York Port Authority chairman Lewis Eisenberg? Silverstein over-insured the WTC against terrorism and made an astonishing profit.

15. Why were anthrax packages mailed to the only two US senators who voted against the Patriot Act?

16. Why did situation room director Deborah Loewer follow Bush to Florida on 9/11 - considering that's not part of her job description?

17. Where are the full tapes from the Pentagon's security cameras? The hole in the Pentagon may be the most glaring hole in the official narrative - as the destruction caused by a Boeing 757 was simply not compatible with the size of the hole. Why were no significant plane debris and remains of passengers ever found?

18. Why did the 9/11 Commission not consult reputed engineers and architects to show that in the real world, steel and concrete skyscrapers simply cannot dissolve into molten metal and fine powder in only 10 seconds after very localized and relatively low-temperature fires? Kerosene simply cannot melt steel.

19. Why did the 9/11 Commission not consult airline specialists who insist trainee pilots who had practiced on very light aircraft for a few weeks simply cannot land a jet on the ground floor of the Pentagon after allegedly slicing through half a dozen light poles and evading a series of trees, cars and overpasses?

20. How come no one investigated claims by the two co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, who wrote in the New York Times on January 2008 that the Central Intelligence Agency "failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot [and] obstructed our investigation?"

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).



7:16 AM ET

April 8, 2010

Dr Aafia Siddiqui - facts not fiction

When I set out in journalism in the 70s I dealt only with fact and any speculation would have to be corroborated.
Never did I blindly swallow propaganda by the spoonful and for you to follow slavishly, without question, the US line on this case is shameful.
My forte has been investigative journalism, working under cover and writing about the dark and shady world of intelligence - there is little now that surprises or shocks me, including the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
Ex-Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohammed saw and identified Dr Aafia Siddiqui in Bagram prison. His account has been corroborated to me by a former ambassador who shared the cell next to her in addition to several other eye witness accounts.
What I did find shocking in my five-year investigation (and it's still ongoing) is that when she was renditioned and tortured her three children were swept along as well.
We know from the shocking images of Abu Ghraib what the US guards were capable of, but did you know many of those who rocked up in Iraq did their basic training over several years in Bagram.
US President Barack Obama reversed an election pledge over releasing the shocking images and videos taken of prisoners like Aafia being tortured, abused, raped and waterboarded. Aafia is not the only woman and mother who was subjedcted to this brutality, and it is nothing new ... read your history and find out what the CIA did to Vietnamese women during that failed war. the fact that Obama doesn't want the likes of you or me viewing this catalogue of crime speaks volumes.
But sadly you have chosen to support the censorship and cover ups unlike me and millions of others who demand the truth.
In some ways I am not surprised by your naive comments Saba, but what really shocks me is the betrayal of the sisterhood by you - and I'm not making an Islamic reference here ... my comments are given as a feminist looking at the wider picture.
Dr Aafia is not only a daughter of Pakistan but she is our sister.
You can stand on the side of Might but I am comfortable standing on the side of truth and justice which is where all self-respecting journalists should be.
Yvonne Ridley



12:14 PM ET

April 8, 2010

Thank you

Ms. Ridley,

Thank you for clarifying the issue.

It's much appreciated as it is always good to read comments from people like you who have dedicated their lives investigating these issues and highlighting the history of American soldiers heavy-handedness against innocent civilians in Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan.



8:59 AM ET

April 8, 2010

Absurd Article

Dear Madam Ridley

This is an absolutely absurd article. She is most likely trying to please americans (in common pakistani way) i.e. with her servile attitude. In fact, it is my experience that you can only impress an american with straight and honest talk no matter how much criticism it carries (if it is within norms of straight talk). Americans treat the person with this servile attitude as weak character. So my advice to Ms Saba is that stop this futile efforts of ass licking.

The content of this article are so baseless that they are not worth commenting. so much has been said before about how come a weak and frail women snatch a gun and manages to fire in a room having soldiers around

Shame on you, Saba. You are surely not a daughter of Pakistan



10:16 AM ET

April 8, 2010


Pakistanis also take pride in

a) A.Q.Khan who sold nuclear secrets (proof: they disallow access to him and after INCREDIBLE pressure put him under house arrest.)

b) the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (proof: the fact that they were one of only 3 countries that recognized them and airlifted them out of Kunduz.)

c) terrorists (freedom fighters if you ask someone in Pakistan) like Haqqani, Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar (proof: their continued existence on THEIR side of the border where they will not allow our soldiers to go and which they claim they don't control anyways...)

d) terrorists elsewhere (proof: despite being banned by the UN and for what its worth Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Toiba head honcho was able to give speeches involving tens of thousands of low life fundamentalists in Lahore - not a small town)

Most Pakistanis also believe that:
a) 9/11 was perpetrated by the US on itself
b) the Mumbai attacks were perpetrated by India on herself
c) freedom fighters are different from terrorists and should be treated differently.

So once again, why is it surprising that they consider this murderous woman to be a "daughter of Pakistan"?



12:02 PM ET

April 8, 2010

Your opinion or your master's voice

Mr. Kuchbhi,

Your repetition of classic Hindoo Indian propaganda points imply that you are regurgitating the puppet master's, viz. RAW's voice.

Is this true?



11:58 AM ET

April 8, 2010

Read Read Moazzam Begg's book

Read Read Moazzam Begg's book "Enemy Combatant" for more information on this story.

It is far from clear what happened.



4:31 PM ET

April 8, 2010

Both sides are being idiots

Ms. Imtiaz makes valid points. But she ought to remember that Pakistan and Pakistanis are by no means alone in their strange national obsessions over the plight of questionable characters - that ultimately end up revealing more about the audience than the actual 15-minute celebrity involved.

In what world would a former President fly to rescue some no-named minority Americans at the behest of the White House, who's laid considerable International political capital on the line, only to be embarassed by a third world pushover like Kim Jong Il? (The Euna Lee-Laura Ling Drama) And yet it happens. Or you know, one American news reporter gets kidnapped and killed at the height of a war in a hostile country, and suddenly it's an international incident, the entire country goes into mourning, and feature films are made (The Curious Case of Daniel Pearl).

The reality of the world, or international and domestic politics, is that utilitarianism looks great on paper, but has little effective application in the Information Age. Sacrificing or overlooking the guilt or innocence of one or a few, and working only on those 'big picture' problems is getting harder and harder to do with cable and satellite ideologues spewing emotional manipulation on to the airwaves 24 hours a day.

Which is not to say that Aafia Siddiqui wasn't royally screwed over by the Bush Administration, and it's Attorney General, John Ashcroft. That's another thing to remember. The America that was hunting Aafia Siddiqui was not the benign, progressive seeming, "post torture, shut down Gitmo and bring the troops home" - Obama America. It was the blood-thirsty, "waterboarding isn't torture and everyone with a funny sounding name is a suspect," America of Bush. Something Pakistani Liberals ought to remember the next time they set out to tell the rest of the world how idiotic their fellow countrymen are.


As for the flip side. i know Ms. Ridley would like to retort to the argument that "facts ought to speak for themselves." But the only true fact is that very little about the circumstances of Aafia can be truely classified as undisputed "fact."

Any time you're dealing with the likes of the ISI or the CIA handling prisoners, a certain "cry wolf" moral comes to mind. How can either agency be trusted when so so many of their exploits point to an established pattern of ineptitude and inhumanity?

But that doesn't mean that Aafia Siddiqui is necessarily innocent.

An innocent person doesn't have the men in her own family testifying that she was erratic and prone to extremist thinking. That she not only wanted to go to Afghanistan to help the Taliban fight, but she DID go to Afghanistan to help them fight.

Her mere presense in Afghanistan should send up a red flag for any fair- minded person about what her motivations could have been.

Why would a well educated (by Desi standards) Pakistani American woman, mother of three, be caught anywhere near Afghanistan, in some unofficial capacity?

Her conviction may be based on circumstantial evidence, nonetheless, it is still evidence. And she didn't really help her cause by behaving like a raving lunatic during the trial.

I mean, what the hell does Israel have anything to do with her?

I hate it when people try to stick Yahoodi's into every ill that they suffer.



1:24 PM ET

April 9, 2010

SMC well said!

SMC well said!

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