European intelligence chief believes Osama Bin Laden harboured by Pakistan's ISI -World Exclusive for the

Posted in Terrorism | 29-Jul-03 | Author: Hubertus Hoffmann

Islamabad. The director of a well-known European intelligence agency with excellent ties to Pakistan has told the Washington-based international information service,, that he believes members of Pakistan's intelligence agency are possibly harbouring Osama Bin Laden and protecting him from the United States. Due to the ongoing manhunt, WSN has kept this information confidential since last November.

The Taliban were built up, equipped and brought to power largely through the assistance of Pakistani intelligence. In this, Pakistan sought to extend its influence on neighbouring Afghanistan.

In so-called tribal areas of the Pashtoons on the border to Pakistan's Northwest Province, Islamabad's influence is still marginal and uncertain. More than 1,000 al Qaeda terrorists are still hiding out in this territorial no-man's land, possibly among them Osama Bin Laden. Afghan leaders suspect in particular ISI, Pakistan's military intelligence agency, of continuing to provide refuge to al Qaeda.


First of all, this covert policy represents a continuation of ISI's traditional aim of increasing its influence. Further, it reflects a two-track strategy – rounding up 500 terrorists inside Pakistan and, at the same time, tolerating the continued presence of old comrades in arms – and mirrors the disunity within Pakistan itself. In the bordering Northwest Province, radical, anti-American parties have come to power, and even the country's rich elite distrusts the Americans, above all because of U.S. support of Israel. These pro-Islamic factions, part of a young, anti-Western elite, are also represented in the ISI. The law of hospitality prohibits these former fellow combatants from being handed over to the United States. Should President Musharraf attempt to crack down on this hidden alliance, however, he risks triggering a coup that would enjoy the support of his country's radicalised masses and a large number of elites.

Where do we go from here?

The stationing of international observers in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan could help contain and eventually dry up the swamp. European nations could make a contribution similar to their role in Kabul.

In particular, the West on all levels is called upon to engage in critical debate over the totalitarian leanings of certain Islamic groups and to promote tolerance for other religious beliefs.

More Informations in "The Search for Osama" by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker