Wednesday, March 12
Pakistan Accused of Staging Bin Laden Aide Arrest
Simon Denyer, Reuters, March 11, 2003
ISLAMABAD - A grainy video purporting to show the arrest of two al Qaeda leaders has done little to deflect accusations that Pakistan may have staged this month's raid to give it leeway to abstain in a U.N. vote on an Iraq war.
On Monday, the powerful military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) held an unprecedented news conference to show foreign journalists what it said were images of a March 1 raid in Rawalpindi that netted al Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
But few of journalists present were convinced the video -- which did not show Mohammed's face nor any sign of a struggle -- was genuine. Many said it looked like a crude reconstruction.
On Tuesday, a former ISI chief said he believed Mohammed was actually arrested some time ago in a different city.
"They are trying to cover up," Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul told Reuters. "I believe he was arrested before, probably in Karachi."
One intelligence source said Mohammed had been arrested three days before, from the Tench Batta suburb of Rawalpindi.
Rumors of Mohammed's arrest had circulated in Pakistan for months, but were consistently denied.
Gul said news of the arrest appeared to have been leaked at a critical time, just as Pakistan was facing huge U.S. pressure to support a U.N. Security Council vote authorizing war on Iraq.[...]