Pakistani Army Ran Muslim Extremist Training Camps, Says Anti-terrorist Expert

13 November 2009
The Times (London)
Charles Bremner

Paris: The Pakistani Army ran training camps for a Muslim extremist group, at least until recently, with the acceptance of the US Central Intelligence Agency, according to France’s foremost anti-terrorist expert. Jean-Louis Bruguière, who retired in 2007 after 15 years as chief investigating judge for counter-terrorism, reached this conclusion after interrogating a French militant who had been trained by Lashkar-e-Taiba and arrested in Australia in 2003. In a book in his counter-terrorism years, Mr Bruguière says that Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was set up to fight India over disputed Kashmir territory, had become part of the international Islamic network of al-Qaeda. Willy Brigitte, the suspect, told Mr Bruguière, that the Pakistani military were running the Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp where he spent 2½ months in 2001-02. Along with two Britons and two Americans, Brigitte was driven in a 4x4 through army roadblocks to the high-altitude camp where more than 2,000 men were being trained by Pakistani regular army officers, he said. “The links between the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Pakistani Army are more than close. Brigitte observed this twice,” Mr Bruguière said. “When the camp was resupplied, all the materiel was dropped off by Pakistani army helicopters. And there were regular inspections by the Pakistani Army and the CIA.” The US agency carried out spot checks to ensure that Pakistan was sticking to an agreement not to train any foreigners at the militant organisation, the judge said. “After 9-11, the Americans put pressure on the Pakistani Government to put more effective controls on the activities of the Islamic organisations linked to al-Qaeda,” he said. Mr Brigitte, originally from the French West Indies, and other foreign personnel were moved out to another camp when the CIA was due to visit, Mr Bruguière said. The judge said that it was possible that the Americans had been turning a blind eye to the organisation’s training of foreign operatives. It was not clear whether the Pakistani armed forces and ISI intelligence service were “playing the same game” as the Pakistani Government over Islamic terrorism, said the judge, whose book is titled Some Things that I Wasn’t Able to Say.