Monday, December 8, 2008

Former ISI chief Hamid Gul - Mumbai attacks, 911 "inside jobs"

The former head of the Pakistani ISI was interviewed by CNN's Fareed Zakaria recently. He had interesting things to say. Here is the transcript of the interview:

ZAKARIA: General Gul, you know that the United States has given four names to the United Nations of ISI officers whom it would like to place on an international terrorist list. You are one of those four names.

What's your reaction to that.

GEN. HAMID GUL, FORMER PAKISTANI INTELLIGENCE CHIEF (via broadband): I think this is a frame-up, a total frame-up. I have - I have my own (ph) voice. And I raise. I have a position which I express freely, openly. I'm like an open book.

This is preposterous. This is wrong. This is fallacious. And if my government does not ...

ZAKARIA: What are the charges against you?

GUL: ... XX me, they ...

ZAKARIA: What are the charges against you?

GUL: Their charges are that I am helping the Taliban and al Qaeda. And what - this is so generalized. And particularly, there is the mention of Sarajo Din Nohani (ph), whom I have never seen in my life. I don't know who he is. I knew his father, Jalal ud-Din Nohani (ph), way back when I was D.G. ISI. But that's been a long time ago.

I have nothing to do - I have no means to help them. But, of course, my position is that Americans have aggressed in Afghanistan. And whoever is resisting, the resistance there is justifiable.

So, that is my position. I will maintain that position. If that becomes the basis of dubbing me as terrorist, then I would say, it's all right.

But other than that, to say that I'm practically involved in any kind of help - absolutely wrong. I am not that at all. ZAKARIA: General Gul, when you read about these attacks in Mumbai, and you see - when you read about the attacks in Mumbai, this is a three-stage, amphibious assault in which the boats were commandeered, the captain and crew then killed.

They maintained radio silence. They split up into pairs. They know their locations. They make a few false targets to draw the first responders there.

This seems like a military operation.

Isn't it likely that there was some special forces or intelligence assistance given to these attackers?

GUL: Indeed. I think that this was a very sophisticated operation. There is no doubt about it. It has rocked the - and I have all my sympathies for India - they rock this huge country for 72 hours. And they really don't know how to react and respond to this.

But when you look at the full spectrum of possibilities, who could have done it, then one knows that Samjhauta Express was a similar case, in which Pakistan ISI was accused. But it turned out that it was the militant Hindus themselves who had killed 68 passengers in that train, and that it was an inside job.

Now Colonel Srikant Purohit, who is a serving army officer, he has been caught in this particular case. And the whole thing has turned around.

So, obviously, there is an inside job.

ZAKARIA: If it turns out, as the one surviving terrorist says, that these people were trained in Pakistan in four separate locations, do you think it would be retired ISI people? Who would be training these groups?

GUL: Not necessarily. It is a question of motivation only. If somebody is motivated, then it is - because what kind of weapons did they use? That's very important. They used flashing (ph) calls (ph). They used the hand grenades. And this is - this doesn't require a great deal of training. And, of course, these weapons are also available in the open market.

If the evidence is there, then I am one of the people who would say, yes, India really has been done a great deal of wrong. We have said - and Pakistan government policy has been very clearly enunciated - that we will punish them. Bring the evidence, we'll take them to task. But so far, no bodies have been shown, no faces have been shown. And this man has not also been brought before the cameras.

I think the evidence has to be, because you cannot, on the basis of accusation alone, start taking actions which can unleash historical kind of changes. And this would be a watershed in the relationship between India and Pakistan, and we have to be very careful about it.

ZAKARIA: But are you confident that the ISI does not have links, formal or informal, with Lashkar-e-Taiba?

GUL: I have no linkages with them. But I do understand the character of an organization. It's a highly disciplined organization, unlike the other organizations. Their political appointees can be infiltrated.

In the ISI, it is only the uniformed personnel who come and serve for two to three years. And then they revert back to their parent services. So, they are bread-and-butter. Their career advancement, their promotion chances - they all lie with the three armed services, that is, navy, army and the air force.

So, there is one organization, intelligence organization, which would remain absolutely on the line. That would be the ISI.

Unless you say that, OK, the army is behind it, the Pakistan government's policy is this. ISI cannot do a maverick job like this. It is unbelievable.

ZAKARIA: The president of Pakistan, Mr. Zardari, the day after the attacks, said that he would send the head of the ISI to India to cooperate. The next day it was revealed that, effectively, the army chief of staff had overruled him.

Is that appropriate for the elected head of state to be overruled by the head of the army?

GUL: Well, I think it was a good thing that they withdrew their decision. And besides, sending the D.G. ISI is something totally - Indians should not have demanded this, and Pakistan should not have accepted to send him, because it was only an accusation at that time.

And it was not a question of cooperation, it was a question of interrogating, summoning him. In fact, the word "summon" was used. And that was an affront to the national honor of Pakistan and that of the Pakistan armed forces.

ZAKARIA: Do you think we should be thinking of al Qaeda as a terrorist group? I know that there was a conference in January 2001, which you attended, at which you felt that bin Laden was better described as a religious warrior, and should not actually be thought of as a terrorist.

GUL: No. We said, unless the evidence is brought up against him, then he is not a terrorist. It's wrong. 9/11's full evidence has still not emerged. It is still shrouded in mystery.

A lot of people have a lot of misgivings about that. And it's not only me. I think a lot of people in America would be thinking the same way. There are scientists, there are scholars, who have written articles on it.

So, I think to dub a man as terrorist - because I know, I heard him twice say on radio, or something like that, and I think it was Osama - not only that, but Mullah Omar also said that he did not believe that Osama had carried out that act. So, that is still a mystery, and it needs to be resolved. Americans have still to set up a proper commission, an inquiry commission, into this event. I think that's very important. And I think President-designate Obama would do well to set up an inquiry commission into this.

ZAKARIA: What is your hunch as to who did - who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks?

GUL: Well, I have been on record, and I said it is the Zionists or (ph) the neocons. They have done it. It was an inside job.

And they wanted to go on the world conquerors. They were looking upon it as an opportunity window, when the Muslim world was lying prostrate. Russia was nowhere in sight. China was still not an economic giant that is has turned out to be.

And they thought that this was a good time to go and fill (ph) those strategic areas, which are still lying without any American presence. And, of course, to control the energy tap of the world.

Presently, it is the Middle East, and in future it is going to be Central Asia. So, there are many, many XX. And, of course ...

ZAKARIA: But you think ...

GUL: ... XX.

ZAKARIA: But you think who would be ...

GUL: That's what I also think, yes.

ZAKARIA: Who is at the heart of - who do you think was at the heart of plotting 9/11?

GUL: At the - it's very difficult, really. I wouldn't point my finger at it.

But I think it was planned in America. And at least one knows that it was done in Germany, as far as the reports go.

But I think the heart of planning was inside America, because the job was done there. But not a single person so far has been captured, caught, interrogated inside America, even though this entire episode took place there.

ZAKARIA: But you've said that the people behind it were the Zionists, neocon conspiracy. Do you mean by that American Jews? Do you mean Israel?

GUL: No Israel. I will not - because Jews are also divided into - not all Jews are bad. Of course, there are a lot of things common between Jews and Muslims.

In fact, they are the closest to us religion-wise, because some of their scriptures are respected by us. Their prophets are our prophets. They have the injunctions in Torah are very much similar to injunctions in the Holy Quran. So, there are things which are very common.

But there are those people who are very ambitious, who have a certain agenda of their own. And I think they have turned the world upside-down, because of those ambitions or their fears.

So, fear and ambitions are two things which have come together as far as Zionists are concerned. And they are trying to drive the policies of America. And unfortunately, the American people are suffering because of that.