In both of the key countries of Egypt and Pakistan anti-US feelings have risen to alarming proportions. In a recent U.S.-sponsored poll in Egypt only 6% of the population now sees the US in a positive light. The potential for a wave of growing unrest and anti-US protests has never been greater in these countries.
Pakistani backlash to FBI raids
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times - January 15, 2003
KARACHI - Strict new US immigration controls on Pakistanis, the growing
certainty of war on Iraq and the intensified operations of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Karachi are helping raise the
temperature among anti-US forces in Pakistan, with possible explosive
Over the past week, the FBI, along with Pakistani security officials, has
conducted a series of raids and arrests in various parts of Karachi, the
country's main financial center, as it steps up its search for al-Qaeda
Last week, the FBI and local agencies rounded up two Arabs in the
Gulshan-I-Maymar district. These two arrests led to further search
operations, which in turn resulted in the arrest of several other
Pakistanis and Arabs, as well as an Australian convert to Islam. And on
Monday evening the circle of the operations extended to parts of
Balochistan province, which is adjacent to Karachi.
Pakistani police sources say that with each arrest, further links are
established to other Arab fighters holed up in different parts of Karachi
and Hub (a city in Balochistan but only a 45 minute drive from Karachi) .
Last week, as a result of a joint raid between Pakistani law enforcement
agencies and the FBI in the middle-class locality of Gulshan-I-Maymar in
Karachi, which is adjacent to an Afghan refugee camp, two Arabs - Abu
Hamza and Abu Umar - were apprehended.
These arrests led to raids on Saturday in the eastern and southern parts
of Karachi in which three Pakistanis and two more Arabs were held. The
identities of the suspects have not been released. It is also learnt that
the estate agent who rented out a flat in the Defense Housing Society
from where al-Qaeda suspects Ramzi Binalshibh was rounded up recently,
had also arranged the property in Gulshan-I-Maymar from where Abu Umar
and Abu Hamza were seized. The name of the estate agent is said to be
Noor Alam, and he has disappeared.
The arrested Arabs are being interrogated by a joint investigation team
comprising agents from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Military
Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau and the police CID branch. FBI
operators are also separately interrogating the men.
It is widely known that many Arabs retreated from Afghanistan with the
fall of the Taliban government there and took refuge in Karachi. A number
of these had relations with al-Qaeda, and simply went to Afghanistan for
the sake of jihad.
However, Abu Umar and Abu Hamza are not believed to fall into this
category as they are said to have strong al-Qaeda links. Abu Unar also
had a satellite phone and thousands of US dollars, according to a senior
This source says that on Abu Umarís information, more raids were
conducted across the city on Saturday. As a result, three Pakistanis and
two Arabs were rounded up. These arrests led to two more Arabs being
arrested near the airport area in Karachi on Monday. They are said to be
Abu Mohsin and Abu Huraira. Several teams have now been sent to
Balochistan to conduct more raids.
Over the past few months, many Arabs with suspected al-Qaeda links have
been arrested in Pakistan, but Pakistani militant groups and the general
populace has hardly reacted. Now, though, this is likely to change.
Politically speaking, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of
six religious parties, has emerged as a political force in Pakistan, and
even has control of the state legislature in North West Frontier
Now, having been elected on a strong anti-US platform, the MMA will be
compelled to take up the issue of the FBI involvement in the country and
other matters, such as a possible US attack on Iraq and the apparent
victimization of Pakistanis under new registration laws in the US. All
three issues touch the heart of the common Pakistani, and it is likely
that in coming weeks demonstrations will become a headache for
At the same time, the moderate voice of political parties such as the
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz group, which is already against the military
regime, will be raised in concert with the religious parties.
The retreat of the Taliban, the fall of Kandahar and the complete U-turn
in Pakistani policy concerning militant groups were demoralizing factors
for these militants. Some dissident elements among the militants tried to
retaliate against Western targets, but they failed to cause any real
At the same time, there are clear signs that anti-US forces have
re-organized in Afghanistan, and a concerted guerilla warfare campaign
has begun in the country. Pakistani militants will be ready to provide
them with backup and support.
Shortly after the recent FBI raids in Karachi, a time bomb was found in
an American franchise in Hyderabad. The bomb was defused before it
exploded, but security officials see it as a forerunner of things to
In the upcoming anti-US demonstrations by the religious parties an
organized campaign will be launched to boycott US products in Pakistan.
It is expected that militant groups will take advantage of the situation
to target US franchises in Pakistan as these are soft targets, for
example, in comparison to Western diplomatic missions in Islamabad and