Skip to comments.Captured Al-Qaeda kingpin is case of ‘mistaken identity’
Posted on 05/07/2005 5:33:01 PM PDT by Gondring
THE capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W Bush as a critical victory in the war on terror. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as among the flotsam and jetsam of the organisation.
Al-Libbis arrest in Pakistan, announced last Wednesday, was described in the United States as a major breakthrough in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
Bush called him a top general and a major facilitator and chief planner for the Al- Qaeda network. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, said he was a very important figure. Yet the backslapping in Washington and Islamabad has astonished European terrorism experts, who point out that the Libyan was neither on the FBIs most wanted list, nor on that of the State Department rewards for justice programme.
Another Libyan is on the FBI list Anas al-Liby, who is wanted over the 1998 East African embassy bombings and some believe the Americans may have initially confused the two. When The Sunday Times contacted a senior FBI counter-terrorism official for information about the importance of the detained man, he sent material on al-Liby, the wrong man.
Al-Libbi is just a middle-level leader, said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French intelligence investigator and leading expert on terrorism finance. Pakistan and US authorities have completely overestimated his role and importance. He was never more than a regional facilitator between Al-Qaeda and local Pakistani Islamic groups.
According to Brisard, the arrested man lacks the global reach of Al-Qaeda leaders such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Ladens number two, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, or Anas al-Liby.
Although British intelligence has evidence of telephone calls between al-Libbi and operatives in the UK, he is not believed to be Al-Qaedas commander of operations in Europe, as reported.
The only operations in which he is known to have been involved are two attempts to assassinate Pervez Musharraf, Pakistans president, in 2003. Last year he was named Pakistans most wanted man with a $350,000 (£185,000) price on his head.
No European or American intelligence expert contacted last week had heard of al-Libbi until a Pakistani intelligence report last year claimed he had taken over as head of operations after Khalid Shaikh Mohammads arrest. A former close associate of Bin Laden now living in London laughed: What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying.
What is known is that al-Libbi moved from Libya to Pakistan in the mid-1980s before joining the jihad in Afghanistan. He married a Pakistani woman and is said to specialise in maps and diagrams. He is thought to have joined Bin Laden in Sudan with other Libyan nationals in about 1992 and to have become Al-Qaedas co-ordinator with home-grown Pakistani terrorist groups after 9/11.
Some believe al-Libbis significance has been cynically hyped by two countries that want to distract attention from their lack of progress in capturing Bin Laden, who has now been on the run for almost four years.
Even a senior FBI official admitted that al-Libbis influence and position have been overstated. But this weekend the Pakistani government was sticking to the line that al-Libbi was the third most important person in the Al-Qaeda network.
One American official tried to explain the absence of al-Libbis name on the wanted list by saying: We did not want him to know he was wanted.
Whatever his importance, al-Libbi is the sixth Al-Qaeda figure to have been caught in Pakistan, suggesting that the country is now the organisations centre of operations. The interior minister, Aftab Khan Sherpao, conceded that Bin Laden and his deputy might be hiding in a Pakistani city.
But the capture of al-Libbi will have made them very apprehensive. Whether big fry or small fry, theyre on the run, I can tell you that.
Yeah, that's Clintonesque, ain't it!?
Yeah, whatever, execute him--NEXT!
HOW IN THE HELL did we foul this up. It's one thing to think you have the wrong guy then figure it out but a whole other to ANNOUNCE IT TO THE WORLD AND LOOK LIKE IDIOTS. This makes the admin. look like the 3 stooges which I hope they are not.
It's also rediculious that it was announced to the world so shortly after the arrest that they didn't have time to figure it out. It's far better to get the ducks in a row and then announce it so that you scare the other terrorists into moving. Doesn't look like it was done here. Some political person probably wanted to rush the announcement just like they did with the cooperating computer guy in Pakistan which led to us missing other targets.
Not just Clintonesque unfortunatley. They also blew the lid on the Pakistani Al Qaeda computer guy who was cooperating in sting operations leading to everybody who was still talking to the guy to be tipped off.
I have to give USF credit, though... I was confused and wondering if this was a mixup with the guy on the wanted list, but figured it just couldn't be...til USF expressed the same misgivings.
I will have to say the jury is still out on this capture. This subject did have a notebook on him which he was reportedly trying desperately to destroy when he was taken into custody. He was also reportedly very agitated, and not expecting to be taken at all.
I remember clearly at the outset of the W.O.T. that President Bush statedthat from time to time there would be deliberately misleading information regarding the status of captured enemies, type and location of operations, and many other things.
I'm going to stay out on the same limb I have been on since just after 9/11 - believing that Bush was and is a man of actions, not just words, and that much of what he sketched out is actively being practised. Sun Tzu in his book "The Art of War" extolled the virtue and value of well calculated deceptions in gaining the upper hand in war.
Things like the plywood "tank" mock-ups strategically left where Nazi intel could see them in Northern Great Britain, and assume they knew the Allied plans was an invaluable ruse in the final days prior to the Allied "D-day" invasion, is just on modern example of that art.
I am in favor of sitting back, waiting, and letting the military, intel, and political leaders in charge continue to run that aspect of things as they have - allowing that they have adjusted on the fly.
How reliable is This story?
"I wonder if the higher-ups realized that this wasn't the same dude, but didn't want to squash the good press. "
Absolutley no way. They had the President come out to praise this. If they knew no way he would have made a statement. It makes him look like a fool.
I am anxious to check out the other threads linked above, but you made a terrific post here......
Well, Pakistan had a personal interest in taking down this guy, and with all the heat that's been flowing in claiming that they aren't helping us enough, I'm sure it was tempting to just ride this wave...and it would be tough to speak out and say, "the Pakistanis are wrong...this guy isn't that important"...
But the wanted list comment was just plain ludicrous.
I agree with you, AAC.
Oh gosh, Gondring.
Your thread shames us.
We will now go and commit mass suicide because The Times says the perp was only a mid-level operative.
What exactly is it about this article has put you into a state of hysterical finger-pinging?
Some French guy has tried to do a number on the Bush Administration and you are jumping for joy?
Some perspective is needed here, don't you think?
Well, you can look into the profiles of the two men, and I checked them out immediately after the capture announcement, before this "mistaken identity" story came out, so it's true that he wasn't on the wanted list even.
You'll also hear stories on FR that contradict the reports in the media, such as "he was singing like a birdie" versus "he didn't say anything--even truth serum hasn't revealed anything"....so I do take it all with a grain of salt.
>>>>According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as among the flotsam and jetsam of the organisation.
That is it. No one knows what they are doing. Pack up and come home. This now stopped terrorist had the wrong rank.
All should bow their heads in shame!
::feeling a bit sarcastic this evening::
Mohammed Shehzad is the premier Pakistani reporter on jihadist groups. My firm and many think-tanks and security firm dealing with South Asia in Washington and in the West pay this guy mucho dinero to get weekly/monthly customized updates on jihadist activity in Pakistan and Al Qaeda related tidbits.
Quite credible IMHO.