Al-Qaeda passport Pakistan's propaganda ploy?
9-11 suspect Said Bahaji, whose German passport was reportedly found by Pakistani military forces in a mud hut in Sherwangai village, South Waziristan Oct. 25 has not been in touch with his family for two years, his mother told the New York Times by telephone. Bahaji, a German citizen whose father is Moroccan, is said to have been the main logistics supporter of the 9-11 attackers, paying their rent and telephone bills. He is named as the leader of their Hamburg cell.
The Pakistani military said Bahaji is not in custody, and denied any knowledge of whether he is dead or alive. The passport stamp for Bahaji's entry into Pakistan was Sept. 4, 2001. A manhunt by Pakistani security forces in the aftermath of 9-11 proved fruitless. (NYT, Dawn, Oct. 30)
The passport was supposedly found just as US Secretary of State Hillar Clinton arrived in Pakistan to publicly berate the regime for protecting al-Qaeda. "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and could not get them if they really wanted to," Clinton told a group of Pakistani newspaper editors. But she assured questioners at a "town hall meeting" in Lahore that US aid and counter-terrorism cooperation will continue.
In another example of the US exploiting Sufis for propaganda purposes, TV footage also showed Clinton praying at the shrine of Muslim saint Bari Shah Latif in Islamabad, following a last-minute schedule swap with a similar monument in Lahore. (London Times, Oct. 31; Dawn, Oct. 29)