India, Israel Linked to Pakistan Plot
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - 14 Oct - For the past 23 years, Afghanistan has served as a proxy military playing field for different countries, including the former Soviet Union, the United States and Pakistan. Now, after a year of the US-led war on terrorism, a new proxy war has begun in Afghanistan, this time aimed at Pakistan and involving the intelligence networks of India and Israel.
It has been learned from highly placed intelligence sources that India's Reasearch and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Israel's Mossad are collaborating to train several hundred militants to be used in an attempt to destabilize the administration of President General Pervez Musharraf.
The sources say that training camps have been established near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, and the eastern city of Jalalabad, which lies close to Pakistan's western tribal areas. It is said that RAW has arranged most of the "human resources", while training is the responsibility of the Special Operations Division (Metsada) of Mossad. Metsada generally conducts highly sensitive assassination, sabotage, paramilitary and psychological warfare projects.
Once trained, the recruits will infiltrate the border areas of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan Province, where they will attempt to forge links with local tribespeople and militants in an effort to rally support for an uprising against Musharraf, who is widely discredited in these regions for abandoning the Taliban and siding with the US in its war on terror. These provinces have a strong pro-Taliban history.
Musharraf's decision to throw in his lot with the US resulted in pressure from Washington to clamp down on militant organizations and to stem the flow of jihadis from Pakistani soil into Indian-administered Kashmir. And since Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had strong (albeit covert) links with the militant organizations, it was able to bring pressure to bear on the leaders for them to back off for the interim.
However, while most of the leaders of these groups have been ready to cooperate with the military government, some of the rank and file have been less accommodating. Although their numbers are not great - a matter of hundreds - they are still a source of concern to Musharraf as they are fully equipped and trained. Nevertheless, the chaos that had been predicted by many for Pakistan, with disgruntled militant groups causing mayhem, never materialized, largely because of the understanding between the militant groups and the ISI.
The move by RAW and Mossad, as indicated by the intelligence sources, will tap into a large section of the population in NWFP and Balochistan that feels betrayed by Musharraf over his ditching of the Taliban. For India's part, it hopes to stoke the fires of unrest by using those militants who refuse to muzzle their guns despite the entreaties of their leaders. It has long been India's desire to portray Pakistan as an unstable country that supports cross-border terrorism into Kashmir in order to gain international support for Delhi's position on Kashmir - that of staging elections.
In recent times, little-known organizations such as the al-Iqwan and the al-Faran have been the brainchild of RAW, the sources said. These groups have carried out a number of relatively minor incidents in Indian-administered Kashmir, such as kidnapping foreign tourists, which New Delhi has used to back its claim that Kashmiri fighters are international terrorists. These organizations have not been heard of since.
RAW has not been capable of setting up groups to carry out larger incidents without its hand being shown, hence its collaboration with Mossad, which is undoubtedly thoroughly professonal and which is thought to have carried out a number of high-profile incidents without leaving a trail.
Within Pakistan, a few small groups are known to be beyond the control of the Pakistani government. Two of them, the al-Saiqa and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alami, have revealed themselves through fax messages to newspaper offices in which they have claimed responsibility for incidents.
Al-Saiqa comprises only a handful of men and is based in NWFP. It has claimed responsibility for various attacks on members of different security agencies early this year. More recently, it owned up to an attack on foreign tourists visiting a Buddhist site in NWFP in which a German citizen was killed.
The Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alami is based in the Pakistani port city of Karachi and also comprises only a handful of youths. It is thought to be behind plots to assassinate Musharraf and interior minister Moinuddin Haider.
Similar small groups in Pakistan share the vision of once again turning Pakistan into a paradise for militant groups, and they all operate beyond the apparatus of the Pakistani intelligence network, as well as beyond the control of the mainstream militant groups. All have a footing of some sort in the tribal areas and remote rural regions.
It is into these groups that the new alliance between RAW and Mossad will feed their trained men in the hope of keeping the wheels of unrest moving sufficiently until popular unrest is strong enough to create anarchy in the country.