Pakistan's former ISI chief Hamid Gul accused of terrorist links

Aug. 20, 2013 at 2:11 PM
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CHENNAI, India, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Charges that former Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence chief Hamid Gul had terrorist links have appeared in the Indian press.

Top Lashkar-e-Toiba, or "Army of God" bomb expert Abdul Karim Tunda has told his Indian interrogators that in 1995 after meeting Gul he developed contacts with the ISI and subsequently was in constant touch with Gul.

New Delhi Police officials said Tunda, a close former assistant of Indian criminal kingpin Dawood Ibrahim, met Gul after traveling to Pakistan via Saudi Arabia. Tunda was arrested by Delhi police on the Indian-Nepalese border Friday. Tunda was in possession of a Pakistani passport with the name "Abdul Quddus," after being on the run in several countries for 19 years.

Following his detention, Tunda told investigators ISI was the official oversight agency for several other "tanzeems" (organizations) like LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa to carry out various tasks, with ISI handlers labeling the tanzeems as "social organizations." Tunda told his interrogators that during his stay in Pakistan, he not only had been in touch with the ISI and LeT, but with other militant organizations, including Jaish-e Mohammed, Indian Mujahiddin and Babbar Khalsa, and had been meeting people such as Hafiz Saeed, Maulana Masood Azhar, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Dawood Ibrahim and several others wanted by India on terrorist charges.

Gul, who served as the director general of ISI from 1987 to 1989, has strongly denied Tunda's allegations. "He [Tunda] is lying. There is no truth in his claims," Gul said. "I have never met him. My name is very familiar in India, it sells very well in India. [Maybe] it's the most familiar name that occurred to Tunda. I talk vociferously and I'm some sort of an opinion maker. I have no other role," The New Indian Express newspaper reported Tuesday. India has often accused Pakistan's ISI of backing terrorism, a charge denied by Islamabad.

Tunda was one of India's 20 most wanted terrorists. Aside from the terrorism allegations, the 70-year-old Tunda has also reportedly claimed that Pakistani army officers are operating a scheme to circulate counterfeit rupee notes in India. Tunda has also said he was in regular touch with Pakistan's Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, which occurred Nov. 26-29, 2008. Carried out by Pakistani terrorists, the attacks killed 164 and wounded more than 308 civilians.

Gul, a controversial figure during his tenure as ISI chief, was accused of backing jihadi groups in Jammu, Kashmir and Afghanistan, but has subsequently claimed he has no current links either with Pakistan's intelligence community, nor the mujahideen. Not softening his views about the country's current administration, Gul has criticized current Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as "too soft" toward India, saying that such a conciliatory approach was "not going well in certain quarters" in Pakistan.

Refuting Tunda's allegations Gul told reporters, "I retired from the ISI on June 1, 1989. Tunda has claimed to know me in 1995, by that time I was retired from service. I don't know Dawood Ibrahim. I don't know Tunda. I don't like his name, if I would have met him I would have asked him to change his name."

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