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Musharraf's book reveals Al-Qaeda details

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf offers new details on Al-Qaeda plots in his book In The Line of Fire.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2006 11:34 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

From the frontline of the fight against terrorism, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf offers new details on Al-Qaeda plots and unflattering views of his US partners.

In his autobiography, published last week in New York in a remarkable blaze of publicity, Musharraf claims suspected Sep 11 mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed killed or was involved in the January 2002 murder of US reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.

For most of last week, Musharraf was a near constant presence on major US television stations and even appeared on a late-night comedy talk show to promote In the Line of Fire: A Memoir.

The general writes that Mohammed, captured in Peshawar, Pakistan, a month after Pearl's killing, also told interrogators he suggested that Al-Qaeda bomb the London underground—which happened on July 7, 2005.

And Musharraf alleges Al-Qaeda planned to hijack jetliners in five Central European countries and Malta in a plot uncovered in 2003 to crash jetliners into London's Heathrow airport, Europe's busiest.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Al-Qaeda's former number three and now in US custody, has never officially been linked to Pearl's killing.

The Wall Street Journal reporter was researching a story on Al-Qaeda when he was kidnapped in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, lured by Islamic militants who promised him an interview with one of their leaders.

Pearl's abductors videotaped his beheading and dismembered his body. Four militants were convicted of the killing, but Musharraf's claim could be used against Mohammed if the US puts him on trial as President George W Bush says he wants to.

"The man who may have actually killed Pearl or at least participated in his butchery, we eventually discovered, was none other than KSM, Al-Qaeda's number three," Musharraf wrote. "When we later arrested and interrogated him, he admitted his participation."

Mohammed also told interrogators that he suggested to Abu Talha, an Al-Qaeda operative, "that the London underground should be targets after the Heathrow operation," Musharraf says.

Al-Qaeda never pulled off the Heathrow attack, for which Musharraf says they planned to use airports and national airlines in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Malta "because security at these airports and in their aircraft was lax".

Already Croatian Airlines has said that the airline stepped up security after being warned by authorities, though it was unclear when.

Musharraf made waves with his claim that the US threatened after the Sep 11 attacks to bomb Pakistan "back to the Stone Age" if it now failed to side with Washington.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, he assumes, is "moving back and forth across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border somewhere".

First Published: Oct 03, 2006 11:34 IST