Tuesday, March 4
The curious case of Khalid Sheikh
B. Raman,, March 4, 2003

On March 1, 2003, a joint team of the ISI and US intelligence raided a house in Rawalpindi in an area where many retired officers of the Pakistan army and the ISI live and arrested three people, one of them a Pakistani. One of the arrested men was identified as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and he was handed over to US intelligence officials, who flew him out to the US naval base on Diego Garcia, where a secret detention centre has been functioning since March 2002, away from the prying eyes of the media and international human rights organisations.

US officials and the Arthur Koestlers of the war on terrorism went to town with fanciful accounts of what a great catch it was, what a spectacular success for the US and Pakistani agencies etc. [...]

Even as this legend was filling up media space, the Pakistani authorities did a volte face within 24 hours and denied that Mohammad had been taken out of Pakistan. He was being interrogated in Pakistani territory by Pakistani officials, they maintained. Faisal Saleh Hayat, Pakistan's interior minister, even denied that the US had requested his extradition. He added that Mohammad would first be tried in Pakistan for offences before considering his extradition. Hayat confounded the confusion by saying since Mohammad is a Kuwaiti national, if at all he is extradited, he would be sent to Kuwait and not to the US.

Why this confusion? No credible answer is available. There is speculation galore in Pakistan, uncorroborated by evidence. Amongst the speculation are:

~When the Americans took Mohammad to Diego Garcia, they realised they had identified him incorrectly. They handed him back to the ISI and asked it to handle the mess as best as it can.

~An ISI official brought to the notice of his seniors that after the encounter in Karachi on September 11, 2002, in which Ramzi Binalshibh was captured, the officer in charge of the raid had submitted a report to the headquarters claiming to have killed Mohammad and buried his body without informing the Americans about it. [...]
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