August 2002 News

Pak involved in arms smuggling for Kashmir ultras, Al-Qaeda

2 August 2002
The Daily Excelsior

Washington DC: In what could be a major embarrassment for Pakistan, the US is re- examining an arms smuggling case in Florida where Pakistani Army and its ISI was allegedly involved in smuggling nuclear components and stinger missiles for Al Qaeda, the Taliban as well as terrorist operating in Kashmir. Pakistan Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency may have been caught red-handed in a June 1991 cases in Florida which the US Government first tried to hush up pleading ''diplomatic'' and ''national reasons'' but which, in the post- September 11 atmosphere it has reopened. US officials rejected a Pakistani Embassy spokesman’s denial of Pakistani Governmental involvement and are now belatedly pursuing the case with vigour. The story obtained by the National Broadcasting Service, was published by ‘The Washington Post’ pointing to Pakistan’s heavy involvement with Osama bin Laden, Taliban and terrorism in Kashmir. The weapons sought to be purchased and smuggled illegally by the Pakistan Government, its military and ISI through agents for at least 32 million dollars included, as revealed in a US authorities’ sting operation, stingers — the shoulder-fired missiles to bring down aircraft — and other types of missiles and 120 mm rockets, grenades, night vision goggles and even nuclear components. US authorities are re-examining a recent arms smuggling case in Florida to determine whether agents of the Pakistani Government tried to buy missiles and nuclear weapons components in the US last year for use in Kashmir by terrorists, Pakistan’s military and the Al Qaeda and Taliban whose links with Pakistan were close until President Musharraf broke the ties with them in the aftermath of Sept 11 attacks, the Post reported. The original case, in which intermediaries allegedly tried to buy weapons from a diamond thief-turned-informant for the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms (an arm of the treasury whose employees include the secret service which protects the President), attracted little public notice when arrests were made in June 2001. It resulted in a single guilty plea and the sealing of court files for another defendant. One of the reasons for sealing the files was that prosecutors removed references to Pakistan from public filings because of diplomatic concerns. The alleged weapons buyers repeatedly said in conversations taped by authorities that they represented the Pakistani Government and were arranging the purchase for Pakistani intelligence and the then Taliban Government of Afghanitan or terrorists. Many details of the case had not been made public previously. The investigation was brought to light by ''dateline NBC,'' which shared some material in advance of its being scheduled to be aired tonight, including audiotapes. Lawyers for the two men arrested in the Sting, including Jim Eisenberg, Attorney For Mohammed ''Mike'' Malik, one of the potential buyers who remains free and whose case is sealed, and Ved Rodriguez, lawyer for Diaa Mohsen, now in prison, denied any involvement of their clients in the arms purchase. Asad Hayauddin, spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, denied any involvement of his Government saying, ''the Government of Pakistan had nothing to do with this, so maybe it was rogues.'' ''The US Government is convinced that the alleged buyers were, in some fashion, connected to militant groups affiliated with the Pakistani Government,'' the Post said.


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