Khalid Capture In Conflict: ISI Shows
“Faceless” Arrest Tape
Foreign journalists had to give their head a shake today when they
attended a first-ever press briefing by Pakistan’s Inter Services
Intelligence (ISI), a dog-and-pony show to tout what they claim is their
“independent” capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
journalists from CNN, ABC and other major media at the ISI headquarters in
the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, in what appears to be an effort to
counter growing US criticism of Pakistan's efforts to apprehend
“terrorists”, events immediately got off to a bad start.
Journalists were required to hand over cells phones at the door
Monday morning which they gladly obliged but the further request to leave
their notepads and pencils outside was another matter. After media members
objected saying that these tools of the trade were necessary to ensure
their story was told accurately, ISI officials reneged and allowed them to
bring in their pens and papers.
In the just over one hour long
briefing, a senior ISI official said that the raid that supposedly netted
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, billed by the US as the alleged mastermind of the
September 11 terror attacks and the attacks' financier, Mustafa Ahmed
al-Hawsawi, was an initiative “purely conducted by ISI” however later,
another senior official said that the CIA provided “some electronic
Then came the main event and what is poised to be
the conflict, albeit maybe short-lived. Eight minutes of footage (in
English) was shown of the arrest of Mohammed and al-Hawsawi. Broken doors,
blood-stained walls and wrists in handcuffs were all shown but curiously,
no face shots of these high profile individuals - not even the well
publicized “arrest” photo of Mohammed that has been widely circulated and
questioned. When one CNN reporter, Tom Minter asked why, the ISI said the
tape had been edited but that the actual footage did record his face but
had been edited out for the presentation.
At the close of the
session, journalists asked for their customary “dups” – a copy of the tape
for their networks which ISI officials laughed at. When journalists
pressed, the tune changed and ISI officials said they “would look into it”
however no tape has yet been released.
If this was the highest
profile Al-Qaida arrest for the Pakistani's, why the missing head shots?
Further, if this arrest footage does not show the identities of those
captured and it has not been released, it begs the question, who is the
person in the picture that has been aired morning, noon and night in
America that has raised so many questions?
To date, we have not
seen a single picture of any of the so-called high profile operatives that
have allegedly been arrested. We have never seen Abu Zubaydah, said to be
Osama Bin Laden's Operations Chief, allegedly captured March 28, 2002,
either during his arrest or in captivity. Contradictory reports at the
time countered that Zubaydah died in the raid.
The footage of the
alleged arrest of Ramzi Bin al-Shibh did not show his face either nor have
we seen his face since alleged capture. If these are such big catches and
they are being held at “undisclosed locations” why not show us their faces
instead of FBI most wanted photos? The party line is that this would
compromise security. How, if they are in custody? Doesn't the public
relations benefit far outweigh the risk?
Now when we see the ISI’s
footage of Mohammed and al-Hawsawi, we once again can not identify these
captives. Press reports a year ago said Mohammed was killed in the Bin
al-Shibh raid however contradictory reports from Arab sources reported
both were alive and well.
For at least a moment this morning, even
mainstream reporters began to question these “capture reports” that
continue to conveniently come at a time when the Bush administration needs
public support the most and then they “sing like birds”, proving the
administrations progress in what is supposed to be their primary war – a
war against Al-Qaida.
It has long been known that the ISI has
affiliations with Muslim “fundamentalists” having supported initiatives
throughout the Islamic world for decades, including acting as the
paymaster on behalf of many countries, including America, during the
ten-year long Afghan-Russian conflict.
President Mushareef must
satisfy both the US and the rising anti-American sentiment within his
country if he is to continue to hold power. Are these so-called arrests
simply for show to satisfy the US? If not, why not show a nervous public,
worried that the invasion of Iraq will compromise the war on "terror",
current pictures of all three of these individuals, along with footage of
That’s was the question among some journalists at
least, who openly questioned during their live reports Monday morning why
Mohammed’s face was omitted from the arrest tape. Unfortunately, most of
these questions didn’t last to the evening news.