August 31, 2003

THIS COULD BE A BOMBSHELL:

When questioning stalled, according to Posner, cia men flew Zubaydah to an Afghan complex fitted out as a fake Saudi jail chamber, where “two Arab-Americans, now with Special Forces,” pretending to be Saudi inquisitors, used drugs and threats to scare him into more confessions.

Yet when Zubaydah was confronted by the false Saudis, writes Posner, “his reaction was not fear, but utter relief.” Happy to see them, he reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, “tell you what to do.” The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of King Fahd’s and a publisher better known as a racehorse owner. His horse War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby in 2002. To the amazement of the U.S., the numbers proved valid. When the fake inquisitors accused Zubaydah of lying, he responded with a 10-minute monologue laying out the Saudi-Pakistani-bin Laden triangle.

Zubaydah, writes Posner, said the Saudi connection ran through Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom’s longtime intelligence chief. Zubaydah said bin Laden “personally” told him of a 1991 meeting at which Turki agreed to let bin Laden leave Saudi Arabia and to provide him with secret funds as long as al-Qaeda refrained from promoting jihad in the kingdom. The Pakistani contact, high-ranking air force officer Mushaf Ali Mir, entered the equation, Zubaydah said, at a 1996 meeting in Pakistan also attended by Zubaydah. Bin Laden struck a deal with Mir, then in the military but tied closely to Islamists in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (isi), to get protection, arms and supplies for al-Qaeda. Zubaydah told interrogators bin Laden said the arrangement was “blessed by the Saudis.”

As I’ve said before, they’re not our friends. Assuming that it’s true, this would seem to support that.

UPDATE: Hmm. This is interesting, too:

Paramilitary forces on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan have arrested an Iraqi national suspected of links to the shadowy al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, a senior security official said on Sunday.

Hmm. Meanwhile Tim Blair asks:

By the way, where are all the Western protests about foreign forces invading Iraq in order to kill innocent Iraqi civilians?

Missing in action, as usual.

UPDATE: Fred Pruitt has some incisive comments over at Rantburg.

MORE: There’s this report from Pakistan:

Pakistan’s army confirmed yesterday that several officers have been arrested on suspicion of being linked to Islamic extremist groups.

The move will raise renewed fears that the security organs of Pakistan, a nuclear power and important Western ally in the war on terrorism, have been infiltrated by allies of the former Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan is almost important a source of Islamist fundamentalism as Saudi Arabia.