Although the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, an al-Qaeda mastermind, has raised hopes that the war on terror is bearing fruit, the question of his patron inside Pakistan remains murky and troubling. He was arrested in a house owned by a Dr. Abdul Quddus Khan, a 78-year-old microbiologist characterized in Pakistani news reports as a leader of the Jamaat-i Islami, a fundamentalist group in Pakistan. The doctor’s son, Ahmad Abdul Quddus, 41, was taken into custody. He is also said to be a member of the Jamaat-i Islami, . His sister, Qudsia Bibi, argued that her brother was “slow” (i.e. of very low intelligence) and was not Khalid Shaikh Muhammad’s host. (But then why was the latter in the house with Ahmad?) Pakistani police have now questioned the elder Dr. Abdul Quddus Khan, who lived in the Sudan and may have a connection to Usama Bin Laden dating from the latter’s own Sudan period (early to mid 1990s). Now it turns out that another member of the family is a Pakistani officer, Major Adil Quddus, who is being questioned by Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, in Kohat, near Peshawar. An officer of the Signal Corps, he is brother of Dr. Abdul Quddus and uncle of the man who was arrested. An al-Qaeda-linked major in the Pakistani army in that region might be an extremely important asset to the organization, since some of those who escaped from Afghanistan are probably there. Does his being in the Signal Corps help him in this regard?
So here are the questions: Is Ahmad Abdul Quddus actually a person of low intelligence? Was his father the real host of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad? Is his father actually a leader of, the Jamaat-i Islami? (This question is important because the Jamaat is part of the United Action Council, the coalition of fundamentalist religious groups that controls the provincial government of the Northwest Frontier Province and about 20% of the seats in the Federal parliament. The Jamaat has repeatedly called for an end to the manhunt for al-Qaeda and the expulsion of US personnel from Pakistan. Do they take this stance because of the danger that further arrests may demonstrate the complicity of some members of the Jamaat and of the Jami`at Ulama-i Islam in the sheltering of al-Qaeda?) Is Dr. Abdul Quddus Khan, the father, involved in al-Qaeda as a result of his Sudan experience? Was his expertise in microbiology of interest to al-Qaeda terrorist planners? Is Major Adil Quddus involved with al-Qaida? Are there al-Qaeda cells *within* the Jamaat-i Islami, perhaps unknown to the organization’s leader, Qazi Hussain Ahmad? Or is there an even more central and sinister link? Are there in turn radical Jamaat cells inside the Pakistani officer corps?