Musharraf: UK security services withheld key data on terrorists

Two of the 7/7 bombers visited Pakistan only months prior to 2005 attack that killed 52.

By JONNY PAUL
September 29, 2006 00:38
2 minute read.
musharraf 298 ap

musharraf 298 ap. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan has said he is angry at the failure of British police and intelligence services to stop British terrorists from visiting his country and for withholding vital information about them. Two of the 7/7 suicide bombers, Muhammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, visited Pakistan only months prior to the 2005 terrorist attack on London that killed 52 people. Musharraf claims that British security services kept secret information about the two British terrorists for 17 months and did not reveal their links with known Pakistani terror suspects until three weeks after the two had slipped into Pakistan, just before the 7/7 attacks. In a TV interview on CBS News's 60 Minutes program, Musharraf, who was in the US to promote his memoirs, In the Line of Fire, revealed the serious breakdown with Pakistan's dealings with MI6, the British secret intelligence service. He said: "It disappoints me, but at the same time it annoys us also. They [the 7/7 bombers] are not Pakistani. They are born and bred in Britain and they are British." Musharraf did not say why the 7/7 suicide bombers, and other convicted British-born terrorists, visited Pakistan and denied that their terror attacks were planned there. The Pakistani leader's allegations are likely to raise questions about whether Scotland Yard, MI5 and MI6 have revealed to the Pakistani security agencies all they know about the British suicide bombers, three of whom were of Pakistani origin. The allegations could also create tension between Pakistan and the British security agencies, who do not believe that Pakistani security agencies have shared all they know about the 7/7 bombers despite promises of full cooperation between the two countries. Musharraf has already antagonized the CIA by claiming that it secretly paid his government millions of dollars to hand over hundreds of al-Qaida suspects to America. This is against US government regulations, as only private individuals can receive reward money. Meanwhile in response to claims made by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that religious schools in Pakistan are fanning terrorism across the border, Musharraf said that Karzai should stop blaming Pakistan for "his own country's instability." He accused him of "turning a blind eye like an ostrich" and said: "The sooner that President Karzai understands his own country, the better." He added that Karzai, who is also currently on a visit to the US, was partially to blame for disenfranchising the Pashtun ethnic group in Afghanistan and he warned that the Taliban cannot be defeated by military might alone. Both countries have accused each other of not doing enough to fight terrorism and capture Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader, who is thought to be hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan had dinner with President George W. Bush at the White House on Wednesday night to discuss ways to bridge their differences. Musharraf's book is causing a storm in the US. One of the claims he makes is that the US threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" if it failed to support the war on terror after the 9/11 terror attacks. He also criticizes the invasion of Iraq for making the world "more dangerous," and claims that the US and Saudi Arabia created al-Qaida, which he called an "extremist monster," by supporting Islamic groups fighting the former Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Al-Qaida allegedly received $250 million in military aid from the US government to help it fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

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