October 2001 News

Kashmir link to US attacks traced

1 October 2001
Times of India
Rashmee Z Ahmed

London: In the first clear link between Osama Bin Laden and the American atrocities, Arab intelligence agencies have revealed that one of the suicide hijackers had trained at the al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan from where only Kashmiri fighters emerge as battle-hardened combatants of the Indian security forces. If proved this would also be the first clear link between bin Laden and the Kashmiri jehadis. The revelations, described by the Observer newspaper as " a major breakthrough" in the struggle to convince a doubting world of Bin Laden's complicity, came on the day that british Prime Minister Tony Blair affirmed he had personally seen " powerful and inconvertible" evidence to link Bin Laden to the American attacks. The newspaper, which quotes " a secret dossier compiled by an Arab intelligence service and US sources", says the 27-year old Saudi hijacker, Wali Mohammed al-Shehri, who flew his plane into the north tower of the World Trade Centre, left the al-Farooq camp some 18 months ago. Untill now, says the paper, the al-Farooq camp was believed " to be run by another hardline Islamic organisation, one of those fighting a guerilla war against the Indian Army in Kashmir". It says the camp was also thought only to be a recruiting ground for bin Laden's Al-Qaida network, but in fact it is funded and run by bin Laden. Evidence provided by the secret dossier stresses that the " only people who go to the (al-Farooq) camp are Al-Qaida recruits". Commentators say the revelations could be the so-called missing link that is badly needed by the Indian authorities to convince the United States and Britain that the "war of terrorism" must extend to Kashmir and go beyond hunting down only Americas enemies. But some Arab analysts caution against Arab intelligence sources. They say that it was unproven evidence provided by Egyptian Intelligence sources, which led America to attack the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory some years ago in retaliation for the 1998 bombings af American embassies in East Africa. The observer also reports a further piece of evidence linking bin Laden to the American attacks in the form of another hijacker, Hamza al-Ghamdi, who Arab intelligence says was physically with bin Laden recently. The paper quotes the dossier to say al-Ghamdi " from the beginning of the jehad was a bodyguard of Osama he is an advisor of Osama", along with 24-other leading figures in the group, who include his confidant and the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, and bin Laden's military commander Mohammed Atef. The paper quotes the dossier to reinforce evidence of the Al-Qaida link to the hijackings through the al-Farooq camp, whose trainers were regularly arrested and then allowed to go free by the pakistani government. The dossier says Abdul Sheikh al-Libs, a 35-year-old Libyan, who "is close to Osama and currently teaching in the al-Farooq camp brigade" was previously arrested by Pakistan and then, puzzlingly, allowed to to walk free.


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