Pakistan releases intercept of al Qaeda communication


A transcript released by the Pakistani government Friday of a purported conversation between militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, who is referred to as Emir Sahib, and another man identified as a Maulvi Sahib, or Mr. Cleric. The government alleges the intercepted conversation proves al-Qaida was behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:


Maulvi Sahib: Congratulations. I arrived now tonight.

Mehsud: Congratulations to you, too.

Maulvi Sahib: They were our men there.

Mehsud: Who were they?

Maulvi Sahib : There were Saeed, the second was Badarwala Bilal and Ikramullah was also there.

Mehsud: The three did it?

Maulvi Sahib: Ikramullah and Bilal did it.

Mehsud: Then congratulations to you again.

Maulvi: Where are you? I want to meet with you?

Mehsud: I am in Makin. Come I am at Anwar Shah's home.

Maulvi Sahib: OK I will come.

Mehsud: Do not inform their family presently.

Maulvi Sahib: Right.

Mehsud: It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her.

Maulvi Sahib: Praise be to God. I will give you more details when I come.

There is no indication that these men have been picked up. Other stories out of Pakistan have wildly different portrayals of the facts. I would think that Musharraf would be doing everything possible to bring these guys in. CNN reports that Pakistan has given three different causes of death in 36 hours.

In a NY Times story the evidence is described as irrefutable. In explaining why the people responsible were not being pursued:


Brigadier Cheema acknowledged as much. Asked why the government did not act against Mr. Mehsud, when he was known to be training suicide bombers, he said, “It is not that easy.” Mr. Mehsud is always on the move and goes underground very quickly after communicating with his people, so it is hard for the security forces to follow up on intelligence intercepts, he said.

Actually would would require putting enough force in the area where he operates that it would be impossible for him to slip through the net. A combination of a surge of force to the area with cooperation of locals would probably find him.

None of the stories mention whether the Pakistanis went to the FISA court to get permission to intercept this important enemy communication. I guess the ACLU would prefer that we pretend that the conversation never took place. We would not want to invade the privacy of those who plot assassinations.


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