Gillani threatens to sue minister on allegations of links with India
ISLAMABAD- Shaikh Mubarik Shah Gillani, the man Daniel Pearl had sought to meet before being kidnapped and who was released on the intervention of the High Court, is now under investigation for his alleged links to Al Qaeda and for money laundering from the US into Pakistan and vice versa.
Senior interior ministry sources said that Gillani, who remained elusive in the Daniel Pearl case and was a prime suspect before the confessional statement of British national Sheikh Omar in the case, is under “discreet” investigation.
“We are carrying out a discreet investigation into the links of Al Fuqra with Al Qaeda,” the director-general of crisis management cell of the interior ministry, Brig Javed Cheema, said.
Gillani, on Thursday at the residence of an ex-ISI operative, termed the kidnapping episode a Zionist plot to get his organization and educational institute declared as terrorist outfits and a conspiracy against the ISI.
He denied any association with Al Fuqra and said he did not favour jihad against the US.
“What they are trying to prove is that Richard Reid is Al Qaeda man. If they prove that he is my mureed (follower), then they would have an excuse to proceed against all the 10,000-15,000 people who are my followers in America. So, this is the main conspiracy,” he said.
“Daniel is a secret service agent,” Gillani had alleged a day before the confirmation of the death of the Wall Street Journal reporter. The US intelligence agencies have, however, denied the allegations of the kidnappers that Daniel was an undercover agent.
Gillani said he would be suing Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar for saying that he (Gillani) had links with India.
Gillani, contrary to the claims of Inspector General (IG) Police Syed Kamal Shah, said he had presented himself before the Rawalpindi police after his name was linked to the kidnapping. He said his contributions to the Kashmir cause since 1947 and then to the Afghan Jihad were on record.
Questioning the foreign minister’s statement which, according to Mr Sattar, was made on the basis of information obtained by the police from the itemized bill of the mobile telephones, the former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) operative and close friend of Gillani, Khalid Khawaja, said: “How could they release Shah Sahib if he was in touch with Indian ministers and all that?”
According to the sources, the US, after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, is also investigating the association of Al Fuqra with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
According to US diplomatic sources, the investigative mechanism would look into all possibilities without ruling out any, however remote it may seem. “Besides the initial focus on the International Islamic Front for Jihad against the US and Israel, led by Osama bin Laden, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, which is a member of Osama’s front and which was declared by the US as an international terrorist organization in October, 1997, the Jamaat-ul-Fuqra, another Pakistan-based organization with known presence in the US, but with no previously known links with Osama, are also under probe,” US diplomatic sources said.
The US authorities are now focussing on the alleged money laundering network of Al Fuqra in collaboration with Pakistani officials, the sources said.
During joint investigation by the FBI and the Karachi police officials, Gillani was asked if he knew one of his followers had tried to blow up the American airliner.
Denying that Richard Reid was one of his followers, Gillani said: “They wanted to move against Muslims in all the 22 states of America but they wanted an excuse, a legal one, so they sent Richard Reid to Afghanistan. He went there, met a few people and went back. Then they found 10 grams of explosives in his shoes which can’t even blow up the seat of an aeroplane. Then he is keeping silent. What the foreign journalists are doing is taking his pictures from city to city and saying that this person is a mureed of Gillani. I don’t have mureeds (followers).”
Joining in the conversation, the former ISI operative said: “For us, Daniel is small part of the conspiracy who just came in between. The real conspiracy started much before that because the American agencies wanted to get to Shah Sahib because he was spreading Islam in the US and that is their main problem.”
Gillani, whose disciples live in 22 different states of America, in response to a question as to how he was being implicated in the conspiracy, said: “Try to understand the conspiracy. I have given a book to my lawyer, Target Islam, which says the documents prove that the aim of the Zionists is to divide Pakistan into four republics. And this project is very well-known to the people here as well. Last year (2001) I told my students to hold a rally in America. Then the US embassy in Islamabad called someone (name not disclosed) to the embassy and tried to bribe him to sign a statement that Sheikh Mubarik is a terrorist and he could have the whole briefcase.”
The former operative, interjecting in the conversation, alleged that during 2001 the CIA and FBI operatives in the US embassy in Islamabad had wanted one of Gillani’s followers to sign a statement against Gillani. “First, they threatened him, gave him a lie-detector test and them tried to bribe him by showing him a briefcase full of hundred-dollar notes. They wanted him to sign the statement that Mubarik Shah Gillani’s followers would do something in America.”
Disassociating himself from Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping, Gillani questioned: “Why did Daniel Pearl go to Bahawalpur to the house of Masood Azhar?
Answering the question himself, he said: “He went there so that he is seen there, so that somebody sees him, follows him and might abduct him. And then he wrote my name in the diary that he would be seeing me like this and then leave the diary at home and then he is abducted.”
Gillani said that from Jan 18 till 26 he had been in Garhi Habibullah, supervising the establishment of a school. When he read in the newspapers that his name was being associated with the kidnapping, he had called up his son who conveyed him the message of a colonel and a few other people that it would be better that he (Gillani) turned himself over to the police.
“On 26th, I called my son and he told me that a colonel had come and he and other people recommended that I go and talk to the police and tell them I know nothing about Daniel Pearl. I didn’t know who Daniel was,” he said.
According to Gillani, the Rawalpindi police agreed that he was not involved in the kidnapping but requested him to proceed to Karachi as there was pressure from the US authorities.
The sources said that during interrogation Gillani asked the officials to contact senior officials in the government to know about his services for the country but the investigators did not think it appropriate to get in touch with the “government contacts” as information was not related to the investigation in the kidnapping case.
Defending the allegations against him, Gillani said: “Muslims are being projected as terrorists whereas they are not. They think the increasing population of Muslims is becoming a threat to America.”
Recounting his services for the national cause, Gillani said: “When the Afghan Jihad came, I was encouraged by Gen Zia-ul-Haq and at that time the Americans accepted the fact that I hold jihad conferences in America and in other countries. So I participated. In that process, the Jewish Defence League was able to do many things and frame us wrongfully.”
Gillani claimed that both the governments of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir had requested him to mobilize his university students to project the cause of Kashmir in America through media by holding rallies and informing the public. So Kashmir-American Friendship Society was formed nine years ago but its activities were not liked by the American government.”
Recalling his association with the Kashmir cause, Gillani said: “I planted the flag of Pakistan in Srinagar on 15th August 1947. My back still caries the signs of the lashes I received from the state police for that act. My family (the Gillanis) have a lot of followers in Kashmir.”
Gillani claimed that in 1947 Nawab Mamdot had made him commander of the junior national guard and in 1948, when Kashmir was attacked, he was Air Raid Commander.
Later, Gillani said, he met Lt-Gen Bakhtiar Rana and also president Ayub. President Ayub, he said, had patronized him in establishing the Climbers Club of Pakistan.
“For fifty years, students from all the colleges of this country, including cadets from the PMA and cadets from military college, Jehlum, were trained by me and some of them became Special Services Group Commandos,” he claimed.
Gillani, dispelling the impression that his students were involved in anti-state activities in the US, as claimed by the US State Department, said the US authorities had tried to involve his university in every incident which had happened on the US soil. For instance, he said, a very famous scholar of Islam, Ismail Farooqi, had been shot dead in 1984 in Pennsylvania and they blamed us, alleging we did not like him. But when the murderer was caught, he said, it was revealed that the assassin was hired by JDL, the Jewish Defence League.
Dispelling the impression that he left the US shortly after the first attack on the World Trade Center during 1993, Gillani said that after 1990 he had never gone to the US.
Criticizing the incumbent military regime for becoming a tool in the hands of the US administration, Gillani said: “For the enemies of Islam, the holy Quran is a book of terrorist. Islam is a religion of terrorism. Muslims are terrorists. It is a Zionist conspiracy and for that they want computerized ID cards so that they have data on each and every person.”
The former ISI operative, who is said to be instrumental in convincing Mubarik Shah Gillani to present himself before the authorities and who was also considered a suspect in the case, said that the conspirators had planned that Shah Sahib would not come out and like in the case of Osama they would create such a scare that nobody would speak on his behalf and they could fulfil their aims.
In response to a question, the former ISI operative said: “Many people think that the ISI has planted me into it to do something and I am its agent. It’s a great conspiracy and it is the duty of the media to find out those Pakistani officials and semi-official sources who are feeding wrong stories to the foreign media. This way we will be doing a service to our nation and our clergy because it is a conspiracy against the ISI and Shah Sahib.”