Pakistani Security Forces Including

*Pakistani security forces, including the Inter-Services Intelligence, conducted a raid in Rawalpindi that netted one of the biggest al-Qaeda fish yet caught. CIA men were also present. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, one of Bin Laden’s right hand men and among the masterminds of the two World Trade Center bombings, is now in US custody in some country other than Pakistan (possibly they took him to Bagram). He may well know where Bin Laden is or has been recently, and I imagine they are pumping him now before his information goes stale. This is a very major success in the War on Terror. Pop open the champagne, guys and gals.

The clear involvement in the capture by the Inter-Services Intelligence is a further sign that that organization has been being purged of its Islamist officers who supported the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The Pakistani government now gets major aid from the US and is expecting the $3 bn. debt it owes the US to be wiped off the books, so the military has good reason to cooperate.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, born 1964 or 1965 and now in his late ’30s, is an uncle of Ramzi Yusuf, the chemist who was central in carrying out the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993. They were later together in the Philippines, where Ramzi’s captured notes show he was planning the crashing of a plane into the CIA headquarters. They also wanted to bomb US commercial airliners on Southeast Asia routes. He had attended Chowan College in North Carolina (in the early 80s?), then went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. After the war wound down, he, like many other of Reagan’s “freedom fighters,” gradually turned against the US. He was born in Kuwait. HIs actual ethnicity, though, seems to be in dispute. The NYT today says he is of Pakistani origins. Earlier press reporting had identified him and Ramzi Yusuf as of Palestinian heritage. Either way, their identification with the Palestinian cause is clearly one motive for their immense hatred of the US. Apart from the question of these two, there is a substantial Palestinian element in al-Qaeda, even if most of its operations have concerned the Arabian Sea, South Asia or the US rather than Israel. That bloody and dangerous conflict needs to be resolved if we are to win the war on terror.

*The leader of Israel’s conservative religious Shas party is furious at Ariel Sharon for his alliance with the new secular party. He has pledged to bring down the new government, even if it means cooperating with the Labor Party and even the Arab parties. Well, imagine. I agree with Shas about something. From their lips to God’s ear.

* An Israeli military official has threatened to take out Hizbullah’s military capabilities in Lebanon. The party has a paramilitary militia of about 5,000 who have been harassing the Israelis in the occupied Shebaa Farms. Question: If Israel could not take out Hizbullah during so many years of occupying southern Lebanon, how would it do so now?