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Hamid Gul: Middleman for terror

world Updated: Jul 27, 2010 00:38 IST
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Lt Gen Hamid Gul ran the Inter-Services Intelligence from 1987 to 1989, a time when Pakistan and the CIA joined forces to battle Soviet troops in Afghanistan. After the fighting stopped, he maintained his contacts with the former mujahedeen, who would eventually transform themselves into the Taliban.

More than two decades later, it appears Gul is still at work. The documents indicate that he has worked tirelessly to reactivate his old networks, employing familiar allies like Jaluluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose networks of thousands of fighters are responsible for waves of violence in Afghanistan.

Gul is mentioned so many times in the reports that it seems unlikely that Pakistan’s current military and intelligence officials could not know of at least some of his wide-ranging activities. One intelligence report describes him meeting with a group of militants in Wana, the capital of South Waziristan, in January 2009. There, he met with three senior Afghan insurgent commanders and three “older” Arab men, presumably representatives of Al Qaeda, who the report suggests were important “because they had a large security contingent with them.”

The gathering was designed to hatch a plan to avenge the death of “Zamarai,” the nom de guerre of Al Qaeda operatie Osama al-Kini, who had been killed days earlier by a CIA drone attack.

The plot hatched in Wana that day, according to the report, involved driving a dark blue Mazda truck rigged with explosives from South Waziristan to Afghanistan’s Paktika Province.In a show of strength, the Taliban leaders approved a plan to send 50 Arab and 50 Wairi fighters to Ghazni Province in Afghanistan, the report said.

Gul urged the Taliban commanders to focus their operations inside Afghanistan in exchange for Pakistan turning “a blind eye” to their presence in Pakistan’s tribal areas. It was unclear whether the attack was ever executed.

The US has pushed the United Nations to put Gul on a list of international terrorists. Top American officials said they believed he was an important link between active-duty Pakistani officers and militant groups. Gul, who says he is retired, dismissed the allegations as “absolute nonsense.”

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