ISI First Reports
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The story...

India confirmed that the ISI chief was removed because he had $100,000 wired to 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta.

Our take...

This is frequently repeated as a near certainty, primarily thanks to a 9th October 2001 report in the India Times

India helped FBI trace ISI-terrorist links

New Delhi: While the Pakistani Inter Services public relations claimed that former ISI Director-General Lt-Gen Mahmud Ahmad sought retirement after being superseded on Monday, the truth is more shocking. Top sources confirmed here on Tuesday, that the General lost his job because of the "evidence" India produced to show his links to one of the suicide bombers that wrecked the World Trade Centre. The US authorities sought his removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 were wired to WTC hijacker Mohammed Atta from Pakistan by Ahmad Umar Sheikh at the instance of Gen Mahumd.

Senior government sources have confirmed that India contributed significantly to establishing the link between the money transfer and the role played by the dismissed ISI chief. While they did not provide details, they said that Indian inputs, including Sheikh’s mobile phone number, helped the FBI in tracing and establishing the link.

A direct link between the ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions. The US cannot but suspect whether or not there were other senior Pakistani army commanders who were in the know of things. Evidence of a larger conspiracy could shake US confidence in Pakistan’s ability to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition.

Indian officials say they are vitally interested in the unravelling of the case since it could link the ISI directly to the hijacking of the Indian Airlines Kathmandu-Delhi flight to Kandahar last December.

Ahmad Umar Sayeed Sheikh is a British national and a London School of Economics graduate who was arrested by the police in Delhi following a bungled 1994 kidnapping of four westerners, including an American citizen.

However, it’s worth noting that all the key points here come from unnamed “top sources” and “senior Government sources”, with nothing we can verify. Nafeez Ahmed, in “The War On Truth”, tells us “the transaction was also confirmed by German intelligence” (page 139), but if you check his source then it paints quote a different picture.

THE gossamer web linking Jammu and Kashmir terrorists with the September 11 attacks on the United States is starting to stand out in stark relief. Early this month, German authorities came across information that Ahmad Omar Sayeed Sheikh, a close associate of Jaish-e-Mohammad commander Masood Azhar, may have played a key role in the September 11 attacks. Azhar, informants told the German internal security service, may have sent a draft for $100,000 to Mohammad Atta, one of the men who crashed an aircraft into the World Trade Centre in New York. The draft, sources say, was sent in the summer of 2000 employing a pseudonym. Atta is thought to have returned $15,600 through the hawala channel just before the attack. An Egyptian national, Atta is believed to be among the central figures responsible for conceptualising and executing the attacks on the U.S.

Officials of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation are now looking into Atta's possible links with Sheikh. Sheikh, along with his long-time mentor Azhar and a third terrorist, Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, had been released from jail in December 1999 in order to secure the freedom of 155 passengers and crew on Indian Airlines flight IC 814, which was hijacked by terrorists to Kandahar. A graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, Sheikh became involved with Islamist fascist groups while a student, and went on to be a key member of the United Kingdom-based armed action group al-Hadeed. After his release in Kandahar, Sheikh did not return to the U.K. and stayed on in Pakistan in an Inter-Services Intelligence-provided safe house in Islamabad...

"As things stand," says one senior Indian intelligence official, "the information is still very speculative. While there is no doubt that Sheikh was close to bin Laden, the precise nature of that relationship and of his financial activities still have to be discovered." Curiously, there seems to have been little international pressure on Pakistan to hand the terrorist over. Last month, the U.K. served a letters rogatory on India, asking for information on Sheikh in relation to the 1994 kidnapping of its nationals. It is unclear why it has taken that country so long to initiate the legal proceedings, and why the U.S. has chosen not to act so far. These mysteries, like the many others that have come to attention since September 11, could give rise to some interesting answers in the weeks to come.

Even though there’s something for here for “inside job” theorists, in the final question of why the UK and US haven’t pursued Sheikh more vigorously, this account isn’t often retold online. And it’s not difficult to see why. This story appeared a few days after the India Times version, but it says the breakthrough came from an informer to German intelligence, doesn’t directly mention the ISI as being behind the wire transfer, and says the whole story is “very speculative”.

Obviously this doesn’t mean that the second account completely invalidates the first, or that differences between the stories mean either are false. But the variations should be enough to make us at least question the initial India Times report. Maybe these unattributed briefings weren’t telling the whole story.

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