Pervez Link To Osama's Cash Trail

From KP Nayar, Washington (Terjemahannya)

Washington, Oct. 13: Bush administration officials warned Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf ahead of yesterday’s order freezing the assets of Rabita Trust that he should dissociate himself from that organisation which had become a funnel for funds through Pakistan for Osama bin Laden, knowledgeable Pakistani sources said today. 

The warning may have alerted Jaish-e-Mohammed through its pervasive contacts in the Pakistani intelligence community about the impending assets freeze order and enabled it to reorganise its bank accounts, distribute its assets and rechristen itself as Tehrik al Furqan.

Musharraf has been on the board of Rabita Trust, which was started 30 years ago for charitable work in resettling the then East Pakistan’s Biharis, who wanted to go to Pakistan after the creation of Bangladesh.Pakistan’s embassy in Washington yesterday pleaded ignorance about any link between the trust and Musharraf. 

US Officials believe the trust, despite its long record of charitable work, was virtually taken over by bin Laden’s network in recent years.Its secretary general, Wael Hamza Jalaidan, was one of the pioneers of al Qaida along with bin Laden when it was launched in Pakistan to provide relief to the families of those “martyred” in the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.It is reasonable to assume that Musharraf, who has Patronised Taliban and other fundamentalist forces all through his years in the top echelons of the Pakistani army, would have known about al Qaida’s use of the trust as a channel for its funds.

This contradiction between Musharraf, yesterday’s terrorism sponsor, and Musharraf, today’s coalition partner, represents one of the biggest dilemmas for President George W. Bush as he presses ahead with the campaign against Taliban.

According to accounts in the US media, yesterday’s list and the circumstances surrounding its preparation belie serious rifts within the Bush administration on dealing with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Competing for policy are the treasury department with its brief to stop the flow of money to terrorists; the state department, which is keen to protect its tenuous coalition against terror; and intelligence agencies, which fear that their sources and methods of tracking terrorist finances would be exposed by an open admission through the list that these agencies are wise to what the terrorists are up to.

According to reliable accounts, the state department’s South Asia bureau yesterday drafted a response for spokesman Richard Boucher acknowledging Musharraf’s connection with the trust.

This response was to be apologetic on behalf of Musharraf arguing that he was ignorant of al Qaida’s penetration of the trust. But it was dropped on further consideration.

A State department official was, however, quoted in today’s Washington Post as saying the trust is “a highly regarded Islamic trust with several prominent board members. Our feeling is that bin Laden deliberately infiltrated the Rabita Trust and corrupted a reputable organisation. We don’t think the prominent people who have their names on it were aware of the infiltration”.