Tuesday, March 4
Robert Fisk: A breakthrough in the war on terror? I'll believe it when we see some evidence
The Independent, 3 March 2003
In the theatre of the absurd into which America's hunt for al-Qa'ida so often descends, the "arrest" – the quotation marks are all too necessary – of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is nearer the Gilbert and Sullivan end of the repertory.
First, Mr Mohammed was arrested in a joint raid by the CIA and Pakistani agents near Islamabad and spirited out of the country to an "undisclosed location". "The man who masterminded the September 11 attacks" was how the US billed this latest "victory" in the "war against terror" (again, quotation marks are obligatory). Then the Pakistanis announced that he hadn't been taken out of Pakistan at all. Then a Pakistani police official expressed his ignorance of any such arrest.
And then, a Taliban "source" – this means the real Taliban but "source" is supposed to cover the fact that the old Afghan regime still exists – claimed that Mr Mohammed "is still with us and in our protection and we challenge the US to prove their claim". By this stage, it looked like a case of the "whoops" school of journalism; a good story that just might be untrue.