Who is Hasan Ghul?
The Kurdish peshmergas apprehended an Egyptian member of al-Qaeda trying to sneak into Iraq recently, and the US hailed the capture as significant. Ghul was said to have been working directly under Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, one of the planners of September 11. But the London-based moderate Saudi newspaper al-Hayat raised the question today of who he really is. They called an Egyptian expert on the al-Gihad al-Islami organization of Ayman al-Zawahir, and he said the only senior al-Gihad/ al-Qaeda figure named Hasan had been killed in the Afghanistan war. Hani al-Siba’i speculated that “Hasan Ghul” may just be the name on a passport that the fugitive managed to get hold of. I did a quick Nexis search and did not come up with entries for this name before the capture. So, who exactly was captured?
There seemed to me to be a contradiction in the statements during the past couple of days of Gen. John Abizaid and those of Gen. Rick Sanchez about al-Qaeda in Iraq. Abizaid seemed to play this factor down, Sanchez to play it up.
Abizaid expressed security concerns not only about Afghanistan (where he denied that the Taliban are resurgent) and Iraq, but also about US allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, both of which have a domestic problem with radical Muslim extremists. (The problem in Pakistan, by the way, was in part created by the Reagan administration during its alliance with dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan).
What I don’t understand is why, if you are cataloguing security risks to the US in the region, you would not add in the militant Israeli settler movement in the West Bank, which produces more hatred toward the United States in the Muslim world than any other single factor. If some foreign country had grabbed part of Virginia and was pouring settlers into it, kicking out Americans, and declaring it no longer US soil, don’t you think Americans in Maine and California would be upset about that, and resentful toward the foreign invader?