WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- On the eve of the publication of its report, the 9/11 Commission was given a stunning document from Pakistan, claiming that Pakistani intelligence officers knew in advance of the 9/11 attacks.
The document, from a high-level, but anonymous Pakistani source, also claims that Osama bin Laden has been receiving periodic treatment for dialysis in a military hospital in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province adjacent to the Afghan border.
The document was received by the Commission this week as its own report was already coming off the presses. The information was supplied to the Commission on the understanding that the unimpeachable source would remain anonymous.
The report received by the 9/11 Commission from the anonymous, well-connected Pakistani source, said: "The core issue of instability and violence in South Asia is the character, activities and persistence of the militarized Islamist fundamentalist state in Pakistan. No cure for this canker can be arrived at through any strategy of negotiations, support and financial aid to the military regime, or by a 'regulated' transition to 'democracy'."
The confidential report continued, "The imprints of every major act of international Islamist terrorism invariably passes through Pakistan, right from 9/11 -- where virtually all the participants had trained, resided or met in, coordinated with, or received funding from or through Pakistan -- to major acts of terrorism across South Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as major networks of terror that have been discovered in Europe."
Even before the 9/11 Commission received the report on Pakistan's role in the terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission's own report stated: "Pakistan was the nation that held the key to his (bin Laden's) ability to use Afghanistan as a base."
A spokesman for the Pakistani embassy categorically denied Thursday that Osama bin Laden had ever been treated "in any military hospital anywhere in Pakistan."
"The reports, based on unnamed intelligence sources, are usually a figment of the writer's imagination," Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan's deputy chief of mission in Washington told United Press International.
Asked to comment on the claim that Pakistan was aware of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks before they occurred, Sadiq said: "This is basically the recycling of old charges, the unproven old charges ... We have been working very closely with the U.S. administration and it is important to note that the U.S. administration also has always rejected these charges as false. No one seems to know these imaginary intelligence sources."
Pakistan is still denying President Pervez Musharraf knew anything about the activities of Dr. A.Q. Khan, the country's most prominent nuclear scientist who had spent the last 10 years building and running a one-stop global shopping center for "rogue" nations. North Korea, Iran and Libya did their shopping for nuclear weapons at Khan's underground black market outlet.
After U.S. and British intelligence painstakingly pieced together Khan's global nuclear proliferation endeavors, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was assigned last fall to inform Musharraf.
Khan, a national hero for giving Pakistan its nuclear arsenal, was not arrested. Instead, Musharraf pardoned him in exchange for an abject apology on national television in English. Few in Pakistan believed Musharraf's story that he was totally in the dark about Khan's operation. Prior to seizing power in 1999, Gen. Musharraf was -- and still is -- Army Chief of Staff. For the past five years, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence chief reported directly to Musharraf.
Osama bin Laden's principal Pakistani adviser prior to 9/11 was retired Gen. Hamid Gul, a former ISI chief who is "strategic adviser" to the coalition of six politico-religious parties that governs two of Pakistan's four provinces. Known as MMA, the coalition also occupies 20 percent of the seats in the federal assembly in Islamabad. Hours after 9/11, Gul publicly accused Israel's Mossad of fomenting the 9/11 plot. Later, Gul said the U.S. Air Force must have been in on the conspiracy as no warplanes were scrambled to shoot down the hijacked airliners.
Gul spent two weeks in Afghanistan immediately prior to 9/11. He denied having met Osama bin Laden during that trip, but has always said he was an "admirer" of the al-Qaida leader. However, he did meet with Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader, on several occasions.
Since 9/11, hardly a week goes by without Gul denouncing the U.S. in both the Urdu and English-language media.
In a conversation with this reporter in October 2001, Gul forecast a future Islamist nuclear power that would form a greater Islamic state with a fundamentalist Saudi Arabia after the demise of the monarchy.
Gul worked closely with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when he was in charge of ISI. He was "mildly" fundamentalist in those days, he explained after 9/11, and indifferent to the U.S. But he became passionately anti-American after the U.S. turned its back on Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, and began punishing Pakistan with economic and military sanctions for its secret nuclear buildup.
A ranking CIA official, speaking not for attribution, said the agency considered Gul to be "the most dangerous man" in Pakistan. A senior Pakistani political leader, also speaking on condition his name not be used, said, "I have reason to believe Hamid Gul was Osama bin Laden's master planner."
"Pakistan has harvested an enormous price," the anonymous report said, for its apparent 'cooperation' with the U.S., and in this it has combined deception and blackmail -- including nuclear blackmail -- to secure a continuous stream of concessions. Its conduct is little different from that of North Korea, which has in the past chosen the nuclear path to secure incremental aid from Western donors. A pattern of sustained nuclear blackmail has consistently been at the heart of Pakistan's case for concessions, aid and a heightened threshold of international tolerance for its sponsorship and support of Islamist terrorism.
"To understand how this works, it is useful to conceive of Pakistan's ISI as a state acting as terrorist traffickers, complaining that, if it does not receive the extraordinary dispensations and indulgences that it seeks, it will, in effect, 'implode,' and in the process do extraordinary harm.
"Part of the threat of this 'explosion' is also the specter of the transfer of its nuclear arsenal and capabilities to more intransigent and irrational elements of the Islamist far right in Pakistan, who would not be amenable to the logic that its present rulers -- whose interests in terrorism are strategic, and consequently, subject to considerations of strategic advantage -- are willing to listen to...
"...It is crucial to note that if the Islamist terrorist groups gain access to nuclear devices, ISI will almost certainly be the source...At least six Pakistani scientists connected with the country's nuclear program were in contact with al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden with the thorough instructions of ISI.
"Pakistan has projected the electoral victory of the fundamentalist and pro-Taliban, pro-al-Qaida Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in the November elections as 'proof' that the military is the only 'barrier' against the country passing into the hands of the extremists. The fact, however, is that the elections were widely rigged, and this was a fact acknowledged by the European Union observers, as well as by some of the MMA's constituents themselves. The MMA victory was, in fact, substantially engineered by the Musharraf regime, as are the various anti-U.S. 'mass demonstrations' around the country.
"Pakistan has made a big case out of the fact that some of the top line leadership of al-Qaida has been arrested in the country with the 'cooperation' of the Pakistani security forces and intelligence. However, the fact is that each such arrest only took place after the FBI and U.S. investigators had effectively gathered evidence to force Pakistani collaboration, but little of this evidence had come from Pakistani intelligence agencies. Indeed, ISI has consistently sought to deny the presence of al-Qaida elements in Pakistan, and to mislead U.S. investigators...This deception has been at the very highest level, and Musharraf himself, for instance, initially insisted he was 'certain' bin Laden was dead.
"...ISI has been actively facilitating the relocation of the al-Qaida from Afghanistan to Pakistan, and the conspiracy of substantial segments of serving Army and intelligence officers is visible."
"...The Pakistan Army consistently denies giving the militants anything more than moral, diplomatic and political support. The reality is quite different. ISI issues money and directions to militant groups, specially the Arab hijackers of 9/11 from al-Qaida. ISI was fully involved in devising and helping the entire affair. And that is why people like Hamid Gul and others very quickly stated the propaganda that CIA and Mossad did it."
"...The dilemma for Musharraf is that many of his army officers are still deeply sympathetic to al-Qaida, Taliban militants and the Kashmir cause. The radical sympathies of many ISI operatives are all too apparent. Many retired and present ISI officers retain close links to al-Qaida militants hiding in various state sponsored places in Pakistan and Kashmir as well as leaders from the defeated Taliban regime. They regard the fight against Americans and Jews and Indians in different parts of the world as legitimate jihad."
The report also says that "according to a senior tribal leader in Peshawar, bin Laden, who suffers from renal deficiency, has been periodically undergoing dialysis in a Peshawar military hospital with the knowledge and approval of ISI if not of Gen. Pervez Musharraf himself."
The same source, though not in the report, speculated Musharraf may be planning to turn over bin Laden to President Bush in time to clinch his reelection bid in November.
Staff at the 9/11 Commission did not immediately respond to requests for comments regarding the Pakistan memo.