Dept Of Justice : Illinois Man Pleads Guilty In Foiled Plan To Set Off Grenades In Shopping Mall

Friday, November 30, 2007


Department of Justice

United States Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald

Northern District of Illinois


PHONE (312) 353-5318

(312) 353-5300


CHICAGO – A Rockford, Il., man, admitted today in Federal Court that he planned to set off several grenades in garbage cans at a shopping mall in Rockford last December. The defendant, Derrick Shareef, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Shareef was arrested on Dec. 6, 2006, by agents of the FBI-led Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) when he met with an undercover agent at a store parking lot in Rockford to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a hand gun. He has remained in federal custody since he was arrested. Shareef was scheduled to stand trial beginning December 10, 2007.

Shareef entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge David Coar, who set sentencing for March 14, 2008. Shareef faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. While there is no plea agreement, the Government anticipates that a remaining count of attempted arson will be dismissed at sentencing.

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said they were pleased with the conviction. At the time of Shareef’s arrest, they noted that there was no imminent risk of harm once the threat allegedly posed by Shareef was detected by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the charges alleged that he was acting alone.

The indictment against Shareef alleged that he planned to set off several grenades at the CherryVale Shopping Mall, near the junction of Interstate 90 and Interstate 39 on the east side of Rockford, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago. The mall, which has approximately 130 retail stores, is owned by CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., based in Chattanooga, Tenn. The mall was among several potential targets that Shareef allegedly discussed during the course of the investigation – the others were primarily local government facilities. At all times Shareef allegedly was acting on his plan between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, 2006, Shareef was in contact with an acquaintance, who unbeknownst to him was cooperating with the FBI, and an undercover agent who was posing as the cooperating individual’s friend.

The Chicago FBI’s JTTF is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies from throughout the Northern District of Illinois, all of whom contributed to the investigation.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sergio Acosta and Carrie Hamilton.

Dawn : Musharraf defends record on fighting terror

Friday, November 30, 2007

Musharraf defends record on fighting terror

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (AFP) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Friday Pakistan would not be responsible for any failure in the US “war on terror,” insisting his country has been struggling against radicalism and terror for 30 years.

“We are fighting terrorism everywhere,” he told ABC television. “We have gone through 30 years of turmoil. We cooperate very well. So if there's a failure, it's not Pakistan's failure. Please don't accuse us,” he said to an [sic]

Musharraf insisted his political moves had been in reaction to opposition tactics.

“The opposition, they have all along these five years tried to destabilize me and the government. You have to understand, we don't want agitation here... Agitation means breaking down everything, burning things. That cannot be allowed. So, therefore, if anyone is trying to do that, we will stop it. That is the way it is in Pakistan.”

Asked if he would enter a power-sharing arrangement with opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, he replied: “I'm not into any deal with anyone.”

”We are in a stage where we have to have free, fair, transparent elections. We have to see, after the election, how things develop.

“If the situation develops in a manner which is absolutely unacceptable to me, I have a choice of leaving.”

Dawn : PPP to take part in general elections: Benazir

Friday, November 30, 2007

PPP to take part in general elections: Benazir

November 30, 2007

RAWALPINDI, Nov.30 (APP): Benazir Bhutto said Friday that PPP would take part in the January elections adding that it was imperative for all the political parties to participate in the elections and foil any attempt at rigging.

Addressing party workers she said election boycott would be beneficial for the the ruling PML(Q).

Referring to situation in Swat and tribal areas, she said the problem could be resolved through political means.

Frontier Post : Imran remarks on poll rigging

Friday, November 30, 2007

Imran remarks on poll rigging

November 30, 2007

MIANWALI (NNI): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has said the government completed preparations to succeed Pakistan Muslim League (Q) in the upcoming polls through rigging.

In his telephonic conversation with media on Thursday, Imran Khan termed the upcoming polls in present of martial law and restrictions on media as drama and made it clear that the opposition would not accept it in the present circumstance.

The PTI Chairman said it is better time to reject the holding of forthcoming elections in the supervision of military dictator to clarify it on the US and European Union that the political parties could not contest polls in the presence of emergency and dictator.

The News : Taking the right line

Friday, November 30, 2007

Taking the right line

By Dr Masooda Bano | November 30, 2007

Finally, the General has shed his uniform but not his ambition to stay on in power. As General Musharraf takes the oath of the civil president, the problems with his presidency are all the more obvious. What legitimacy does a president have who has been elected by an outgoing parliament -- a parliament whose credibility remained contested till the end? The ball is now in the court of the political parties, do they validate this system, which has no legitimacy or do they continue the struggle for the restoration of the constitution and the re-instatement of the pre-emergency judges as a condition to join the elections. The choice should clearly be the latter. The signs from PPP are mixed. But, if Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan stick to this demand as they are doing right now, if nothing else they will fully expose the ideology bankruptcy of PPP's leadership.

How can Benazir or the top PPP's ranks not be clear that the reinstatement of the judges must be made the top priority in deciding on whether or not to participate in the elections? An independent judiciary is the key to genuine institutional reforms in Pakistan. The billions of dollars taken in development aid and loans in the past seven years for so called institutional reforms have delivered nothing. But, a home-grown lawyers movement, run not though paid development professionals but the personal sacrifices of the lawyers and the judges has provided Pakistan the historical opportunity for a genuine institutional reform: a leadership among judges has emerged at the Supreme as well as the High Court which has agreed to live up to certain principles rather act as a rubber stamp to the decisions of the executive and the army. If the Pakistanis fail to seize this historical opportunity for institutional reform after coming so close to it we are indeed a sad nation.

It is therefore heartening to see Nawaz Sharif living up to people's expectations. His clear position on the demand for reinstatement of pre-emergency judges is most promising. He should rest assured that he will become more prominent a leader if he sticks to this demand. It is interesting how so many of us who in the 1990s, were on the PPP's side and viewed Nawaz Sharif as a product of the military are now disgusted with the PPP's behaviour. There is clear consensus that while Nawaz Sharif over time groomed himself, Benazir on the other hand lost her democratic credentials. Even now to think that the struggle for reinstatement of judges is threatened because the PPP is not willing to prioritise it and boycott the elections is pathetic. The PPP should be the party out in the streets with this demand. Yet, the PPP is the party right now, which is the biggest hurdle in the way of this demand. What could be sadder?

Given that Benazir has been very open in her association with the US since this summer, it is difficult to know why exactly she is so reluctant to ask for reinstatement of the judges. Is it that like Musharraf she wants a tamed judiciary rather than an independent one if she was to be elected? Is it that the negotiators of her deals in the US are telling her that they want the pre-emergency judges kept out of the system so that they can keep pursuing any kind of illegal action in the name of war on terror in Pakistan, with no institution left where the aggrieved could ask for justice. After all, the missing peoples' cases prioritised by Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry have been put on the back burner under the new set up? Or is it that she worries about the fate of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which closed the corruption cases against her, if judged by independent judges. Needless to say, whatever the cause, it is not impressive.

It is critical that General (r) Musharraf's civilian attire does not lead to a culmination of the lawyers' movement and weakening of public demand for re-instatement of the judges. It is a clear success of the lawyers' movement that weakened General Musharraf control to the point that eventually he had to concede to the demand of giving up his uniform. This should make bolder not weaken the struggle for independence of judiciary. People should rally behind the political figures like Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif, which are very clear in their demand for reinstatement of judges. We all know that Imran Khan has shown the character to stand for his principles whether or not people come out to support the cause, so we can be sure he will be there to lead this demand in coming weeks. Nawaz Sharif has built much credibility too by staying steady in his critique of the military government and prioritising the demand for the reinstatement of judges, but given that his is a bigger party, with higher pressure to bear, it is important that people should express their support for this demand to keep him committed to it.

Meanwhile, in the US, concerns are being expressed about Nawaz Sharif not being a liberal like Benazir and for not giving US full assurance to fight its war on terror in Pakistan. Apparently for the US, liberalism in Pakistan means following the US dictates even if it means killing civilians through aerial bombings. It is high time that the US administration understands that the way to fight terrorism does not rest in the use of force. Pakistan is not a militant nation. The underlying causes of militancy in Pakistan can only be addressed through negotiations and establishment of a just society, and that is why the reinstatement of pre-emergency judges should be a priority. Much of the current resistance in Pakistan is of a reactionary nature. If democratic channels exist to channel this dissent, the militancy will come down.

The writer is undertaking post-doctoral research at Oxford University. Email:

Pakistan Times : PTI against participation in Elections: Imran Khan

Friday, November 30, 2007

PTI against participation in Elections: Imran Khan

'Pakistan Times' Political Desk | November 30, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said his party was against taking part in the forthcoming general elections under the existing conditions. “This would have been the first election that PTI would have fought while being properly prepared, but we have decided to boycott it and urge other parties not to participate if the pre-Nov 3 position is not restored,” he told a news conference.

He said PTI would not go for elections even if all political parties decided to contest the polls. The PTI chief said the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) had taken a principled stance to boycott the upcoming general elections if held under emergency. Imran hoped former premier Nawaz Sharif, who returned home Sunday after seven years of exile, would also not contest the elections.

He urged politicians to demonstrate maturity and avoid indulging in debate before restoration of the pre-emergency judiciary. To a question about filing of nomination papers by opposition political leaders, Imran said they were doing because of misunderstanding.

Frontier Post : APDM decides to boycott elections F.P. Report

Friday, November 30, 2007

APDM decides to boycott elections F.P. Report

November 30, 2007

LAHORE: Former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif Thursday reiterating APDM's principle stand to boycott next general elections said that a committee has been constituted to contact Benazir Bhutto and Maulana Fazal ur Rehman for convining them to boycott the polls.

Addressing a press conference after All Parties Democratic Movement meeting on Thursday, he said a committee comprising himself (Mian Nawaz sharif) Imran Khan, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Nawabzada Mansoor Khan and Abid Hassan Minto would meet PPP's Chairperson to appeal her to boycott the elections.

He said that to convince JUI chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman to boycott the elections Qazi Hussain Ahmed would accompany the aforementioned committee.

The APDM leaders met in Lahore and decided to stay away from the elections as they believe that the elections would not be transparent under President Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif said.

"We are boycotting these elections," Nawaz added. "We will try to convince other political parties so that this boycott is effective," he said, adding they would call a meeting with leaders of other opposition.

APDM also rejected General Musharraf's televised address in which he announced to lift emergency on December 16.

He said that the alliance has decided to form two committees to meet Benazir Bhutto and Maulana Fazal ur Rehman to ask them to join the other parties in the boycott.

The APDM demanded restoration of the Chief Justice and all other judges who have been sacked by President Musharraf on November 3rd, when he imposed emergency in the country.

The APDM decision was taken after the leaders of the alliance had heard the speech of President Musharraf on the television.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of the Jamiatul Ulema-i-Islam was not present during the proceedings of the APDM’s crucial meeting.

Earlier, the Jamaat-i-Islami, headed by Qazi Hussain Ahmad, had adopted a resolution placing five pre-conditions for participating in the polls.

To a question, Qazi Hussain Ahmad said the JI empowered him to take any decision about the boycott of the upcoming elections and unity of the al opposition parties.

NNI adds: The Secretary General of MMA Fazlur Rehman has termed the boycotting the elections as tantamount to strengthening Pervez Musharraf and the US interest and as a result, the assembly will be filled with the US stooges.

Talking to a private TV, he said that it will take time to create confidence among the people even after shedding uniform by Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf and the ideologists like us cannot be satisfied with merely such measures.

He said that it is true that General Musharraf has worn off his uniform and has taken oath as civilian president.

Frontier Post : 11 civilians perish in Swat Valley operation Shafiullah

Friday, November 30, 2007

11 civilians perish in Swat Valley operation Shafiullah

November 30, 2007

MINGORA: Eleven civilian including eight from a family were killed while ten seriously injured during army bombardment on Alabad, Swat on Thursday morning.

Maulana Fazlullah's brother namely Fazl-e-Ahad arrested by the security forces along with another commander named Azadwali when they were crossing Landaki checkpost.

Those who killed in Alabad were Hameed Ullah, Pir Mohammad, Khalid Khan, Sajad Ali, Umer Khan, Nekzada and Ibrahim Shah while the names of the two could not be reported.

Meanwhile, local residents arranged a protest rally against the killing of innocent civilian due to bombardment while carrying the dead bodies of those civilians.

Sources informed this scribe that more than twenty five suspected persons were arrested by troops in Mingora, Charbagh, Kabal, Khwazakhela and Bandai.

On the other hand, locals arranged peace rallies in Malamjaba, Taal and Kalam and demanded for the establishing peace in the area.

According to the official sources curfew would be relaxed from 07:00 AM to 04:00 PM on Friday (today) in Swat.

Government handout issued on Thursday stated that in ongoing operation of security forces in Swat, security forces have further strengthened their positions and are now in complete hold of the area with strength.

All access and exit routes to upper Swat are in control of security forces.

Last night, militant’s locations in areas west of Charbagh, North East of Manglwar, South of Siagram and West of Totano Bandai were extensively engaged with artillery fire.

Throughout the day, peace jirgas from various areas of upper Swat had been holding talks with civil administration and security forces personnel for restoring true peace in their respective areas.

With active support of locals, Fazal Ahad, brother of Fazlulah was apprehended by Fronteir Corps personnel at Ghaligai check post.

In another incident, 19 other suspects were apprehended at Fizaghat check post.

Continued successful operations of security forces have destroyed militant’s strong locations and they are in the state of despair and reportedly have fled the area.

Brave and peace loving people of Swat are supportive of the government’s action to restore long lasting peace in the valley.

People are once again requested to remain calm, determined and identify these militants hidden in civil population in order to root out extremism from the area.

NNI adds: The security forces, fighting militants in the country’s mountainous region of Swat, arrested brother of the leader of militant Maulana Fazalullah on Thursday, the military spokesman said.

Fazal Ahad was arrested with some other colleagues at a check post on Chakdara-Mingora road, army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said.

Frontier Post : Former SC judges to meet Bhutto Jalil Afridi

Friday, November 30, 2007

Former SC judges to meet Bhutto Jalil Afridi

November 30, 2007

LAHORE: According to reliable sources it has been learned that some of the former judges of the Supreme Court who refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) are planning to meet former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto and will try to convince her to boycott the coming elections.

These judges believe that there are clear indications that the elections will be rigged therefore there is no point of participating in the elections and this is the point upon which these judges are planning to convince Benazir Bhutto that instead of making hue and cry after the elections it would be better for her not to participate in the elections in first place.

Benazir Bhutto, Maulana Fazl Ur Rehman are among the two top leaders who did not participate in the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) meeting held in Lahore, which means that they are planning not to boycott the elections.

Awami National Party (ANP) leader Ghulan Bilour was present in the meeting of APDM but general secretary ANP, Zahid Hussain said that regarding the boycott of elections, ANP will make the final decision after fifteen days.

It is not learnt whether these former judges of Supreme Court are planning to convince JUI (F) leader, Maulana Fazl Ur Rehman and ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan.

But with regard to Benazir Bhutto, it is clear that either these judges will be meeting Benazir Bhutto late Friday night or today.

New Haven Independent : Betrayal Revealed

Friday, November 30, 2007

Betrayal Revealed

by Melissa Bailey | November 29, 2007

Sitting across the room from his former “brother” in arms, an undercover federal witness described how — in the name of Islam — he gained the trust of an ex-Navy sailor, then exposed him for allegedly supporting terrorism against Americans.

Before his appearance in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Jameel Chrisman had never sat face to face with Hassan Abu-Jihaad, the former U.S. Navy soldier [sic] accused of giving up sensitive naval information to an alleged terrorist cell.

As a pre-trial hearing against Abu-Jihaad continued to its second day Thursday before Judge Mark R. Kravitz, Chrisman took the stand a second time. Sitting diagonally across the courtroom from his former “ally,” he told the court how he tracked down and befriended Abu-Jihaad.

Recorded conversations procured through Chrisman’s undercover work are at the center of the pre-trial hearing. The purpose of this week’s hearing is for Judge Kravitz to decide whether or not to add the hours of recorded conversations as evidence in an expected trial against Abu-Jihaad. The suspect, 31, is facing up to 25 years in prison after being indicted by a grand jury on terrorism and espionage charges. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Terrorist Buster

Chrisman glanced over at Abu-Jihaad from time to time as federal prosecutors played tapes of their conversations. Chrisman wore a striped sweater and a long black skirt. Abu-Jihaad wore an orange jumpsuit.

Under cross-examination, the witness was asked his motivations for working with the FBI.

Chrisman, a New Jersey native and a Muslim, told of how he came to crisscross the nation busting suspected terrorists.

“After 9/11, all the Salaafi scholars came out with a ruling,” Chrisman said — “it is imperative for Muslims to stop terrorism.” Those who practice terrorism were “brothers of the devil.” Chrisman approached the FBI and volunteered his services.

“I never entered this for money,” said Chrisman, grilled by Abu-Jihaad’s lawyers. In the first four years of FBI cooperation, he said he earned only $1,200.

In Oct. 2006, Chrisman got [an assignment] to a new person of interest named Derrick Shareef. When he showed up at Shareef’s video store one afternoon, he had no idea how deeply — and quickly — he’d get involved in his life. Eight hours later, Shareef was moving into Chrisman’s home. Chrisman recorded every conversation they had, and his work led Shareef to be nabbed in connection to a plot to plant grenades in a local shopping mall. Shareef pleaded guilty this week in Chicago to trying to buy the grenades from an undercover FBI agent.

Meanwhile in his journey through Shareef’s life, Chrisman came across one of the young man’s friends by the name of Hassan Abu-Jihaad. Abu-Jihaad lived in Phoenix, far from Christman’s Chicago-area home. Through Shareef, the witness heard of Abu-Jihaad’s alleged troubles with the Navy; he is accused of leaking secret information about the Navy’s weakness and whereabouts to an alleged terror cell in London.

Seeking to get Abu-Jihaad to confess directly to his past, Chrisman bypassed Shareef and sought a direct relationship with the man.

Sitting just a few yards away from the prisoner Thursday, the witness told the court how he sent Abu-Jihaad Salafi books “to try to gain his trust.” In the days leading up to Shareef’s Dec. 6 arrest, Chrisman zeroed in on Abu-Jihaad with a final push to confirm terrorist activities on tape.

He tried to get Abu-Jihaad to commit to buying assault rifles for an alleged plot the three had been crafting to attack a military barracks in San Diego. Abu-Jihaad agreed to commit “financial and logistical” help, but never paid the money or took the plans to actionable specificity, according to the witness.

Abu-Jihaad didn’t send money to buy the weapons. But in a climactic conversations with Chrisman right after Shareef’s arrest, Chrisman did get Abu-Jihaad to make some admissions.

In a conversation played in court Thursday, Abu-Jihaad admits to sending emails to London-based Azzam Publications, including one about the USS Cole — apparently referring to an email that calls the attack on the USS Cole a “martyrdom operation.”

Federal prosecutors trumpet the conversation as key admission linking the sailor to the leaking of top-secret information on his Navy boat’s location. Abu-Jihaad’s attorney, Dan LaBelle, downplayed the act: Abu-Jihaad admitted he sent email about the USS Cole, but “he didn’t admit he told secrets.”

“I Ain’t No Jihaid” [sic]

Abu-Jihaad sat quietly during the proceedings, occasionally turning to whisper to his lawyers. His attorneys, LaBelle and Robert Golger, argue the statements garnered from Chrisman do not constitute co-conspiracy in a terrorist act, and should not be admitted as evidence. They pointed to places in the transcripts where Abu-Jihaad denies wrongful activity, saying “I ain’t no jihadi.”

Much of the information about Abu-Jihaad on the tapes is second-hand info from Shareef about Abu-Jihaad’s commitment to the alleged plot against the San Diego military base. LaBelle and Golger argued much of the evidence should not be considered as the case goes to trial, because it is only hearsay from a young, “live wire” hothead seeking to impress others with pro-jihad talk.

The pre-trial hearing ended Thursday afternoon. Kravitz set an oral argument for Jan. 4 and will rule in the meantime on whether the recordings from the government’s star cooperator, Chrisman, will contribute to the trial.

CT Post : FBI informant testifies in terror case

Friday, November 30, 2007

FBI informant testifies in terror case

MICHAEL P. MAYKO | | November 29, 2007

NEW HAVEN — William "Jamaal" Chrisman was considered a gem in the U.S. Muslim terrorist world.

He is white, young and well versed in the teachings of his religion.

His whiteness, he was told, "helps facilitate our cause, gives us credibility" and allows the cell to operate "under the radar."

But unbeknownst to his newfound friends Chrisman has spent the last five years working for the FBI helping them infiltrate cells.

"What brought me to the government was after 9-11 Muslim scholars in Saudi Arabia and Morocco said it was incumbent on Muslims to stop terrorists," he testified in federal court Thursday. "Anyone involved in terrorism was deemed the brother of the devil."

For the past two days, Chrisman has been testifying about his conversations via e-mail and telephone with Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 31, an honorably discharged U.S. Navy signalman accused of providing details of ship movements to an al-Qaida support cell in London. He also discussed his conversation in person, through e-mail and over the telephone with Derrick Shareef, a 23-year-old Rockford, Ill., man who pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to purchase grenades for a planned Dec. 22, 2006, attack on the Cherry Vale mall in Rockford. Chrisman said Shareef considered Abu-Jihaad his mentor and the later looked upon Shareef as his "little brother."

For the past two days, U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz heard more than a dozen recorded conversations Chrisman made for the FBI.

Kravitz listened as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Reynolds and William Nardini played tape recordings of Chrisman and Shareef discussing Abu-Jihaad's alleged plans to attack the U.S. Naval base in San Diego by creating turmoil near a barracks or mess hall and then picking off personnel as they ran out. He listened to a conversation about an attack on a Phoenix military recruiting station.

The judge also heard Abu-Jihaad deny any involvement in all of this to Chrisman.

Early next year Kravitz will rule if these uncharged plots can be used as conspiracy evidence against Abu-Jihaad when he goes to trial in late February.

At the end of Thursday's session, Kravitz asked Chrisman several questions including whether there were any concrete plans to attack the military sites.

"There were no logistics, it was basically in the works," said Chrisman. "We were to go to Phoenix and hook up with sniper training. "

He said Shareef told him Abu-Jihaad mapped out an entrance and escape route to the naval base.

"But you never met Abu-Jihaad in person?" asked Robert Golger, one of two Fairfield County lawyers appointed to represent the defendant.

"No," replied Chrisman, saying he only spoke with him on the phone.

"What I need help on is determining when does talk become a conspiracy to act," Kravitz said. "There's a lot of talk going on here — a lot of talk about doing things. How specific does talk have to be to become a conspiracy?

Kravitz gave both sides until next month to brief the issue. He said he would hear oral argument on Jan. 4 and then write a decision.

During questioning by Golger, Chrisman maintained "I never got involved with this for the money."

He claims he received $8,500 for the two months he worked on this case last year and $1,200 for the first four years working cases in Buffalo, N.Y., Philadelphia and Atlanta.

FBI Special Agent David Dillon said Chrisman was paid $22,000 by the FBI since 2001.

In this case, Chrisman said he moved to Illinois from Buffalo and was "tasked to meet Shareef" who was working in a video game store.

Within hours after meeting Shareef, Chrisman persuaded the target to move in with him.

"He was supposed to move in with his manager," said Chrisman. "I told him he was better off staying with me, a Muslim staying with a Muslim."

That same night, Chrisman said Shareef was already talking about "issues with the U.S. government."

Within weeks Chrisman had Shareef talking about terrorist plots and implicating other people including Abu-Jihaad.

Within a month, they planned and wrote Shareef's martyrdom video, which was to be released if something happened to him in the mall attack.

On Dec. 6, 2006, Shareef was arrested.

Newsday : Government plays more coded calls in sailor terrorism hearing

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Government plays more coded calls in sailor terrorism hearing

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN | Associated Press Writer | November 29, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Federal prosecutors played secretly recorded phone calls Thursday as they tried to show how a former Navy sailor charged with supporting terrorism spoke in code about a plot to attack military personnel.

On the second day of a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court, the government played calls between Hassan Abu-Jihaad and friends last year in which he allegedly talked in code about plotting sniper attacks on personnel and recruiting stations. Some of those calls were with former roommate Derrick Shareef, who was convicted this week in an unrelated plot to attack an Illinois mall with hand grenades.

In one call, Abu-Jihaad used the letter `L' for logistics support, authorities said. Prosecutors say his use of the phrases "cold meal" or "fresh meal" described whether a scheme was outdated or viable.

Abu-Jihaad, 31, of Phoenix, pleaded not guilty in April to charges he provided material support to terrorists with intent to kill U.S. citizens and disclosed classified information relating to national defense. He is accused of disclosing the location of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them.

Abu-Jihaad has denied passing along any secret information on Navy ships.

Prosecutors have not charged him in alleged schemes to attack the recruiting offices or personnel, but are trying to get them admitted as evidence to bolster their case when the trial starts in February. The plots were never carried out.

The two-day hearing on whether to admit the evidence ended Thursday. No ruling was issued. Another hearing is scheduled for January after each side submits legal arguments.

Lawyers for Abu-Jihaad have argued that some phone calls and other evidence, such as e-mail searches, were illegally obtained and should be thrown out.

Abu-Jihaad, who received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He is being prosecuted in New Haven because the federal investigation first focused on a Connecticut-based Internet service provider.

Authorities say Abu-Jihaad had a plan to engage in a coordinated sniper attack at a San Diego military base. The plan called for firing weapons to draw soldiers from their barracks and then shooting them, prosecutors say in court papers.

William Chrisman, a cooperating witness for the FBI, tape recorded conversations with Shareef last year. Federal prosecutors have played those conversations in federal court and intercepted phone calls of Abu-Jihaad's conversations.

In one call, Abu-Jihaad, a left-hander, is asking specifically about obtaining left-handed weapons, prosecutors say. He also is heard allegedly pledging support to Shareef in vague terms.

"I'm down, you know what I'm saying ... with whatever I can ... with whatever Allah has instilled me to ... help out with ... if I can do that, then I'm for it ... and I'll say it again, with whatever I can give you that's beneficial I'll give it to you," he said.

But under cross examination, Chrisman testified that Abu-Jihaad never provided logistical support and acknowledged that Shareef complained that Abu-Jihaad was so passive it would take him 20 years to do something. Abu-Jihaad's attorneys also pointed out that he is heard on a call denying that he is a jihadi, an Islamic militant.

Abu-Jihaad's attorneys also said Shareef made a martyrdom video of his planned mall attack, but never made such a video for the alleged attack on the military base.

U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz, while emphasizing he had made no decision on whether to admit the evidence, pressed Chrisman for details about the plot.

Chrisman said Shareef told him Abu-Jihaad had mapped out entrance and escape routes for an attack on the military base.

Prosecutors say Abu-Jihaad can also be heard one call distancing himself from Shareef after his former roommate's arrest.

"When the police come to me," Abu-Jihaad tells Chrisman, "I'm going to be like, 'Look, I don't know this dude."'

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

NYT : For Musharraf, Reduced Power as the President

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For Musharraf, Reduced Power as the President

By CARLOTTA GALL and JANE PERLEZ | November 29, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 28 — A day after resigning as army chief, Pervez Musharraf will be sworn in as a civilian president on Thursday, leaving him with vastly reduced powers and Washington with a far more complex Pakistan to deal with in its fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Bowing reluctantly to pressure at home and abroad, Mr. Musharraf, 64, relinquished his military role in a somber ceremony on Wednesday, ending eight years of military rule. He turned over control of the army to Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, 55, a former head of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence.

The move sets up the potential of competing power centers in Pakistan, with an army chief separate from the president and the recent return from exile of the country’s two main opposition leaders. That is likely to complicate Bush administration antiterrorism policy here, something officials in Washington were hoping to avoid, and one reason they supported Mr. Musharraf for so long.

Senior army commanders grumbled increasingly in recent months that Mr. Musharraf was so engrossed in his own political survival that he had become distracted from battling the country’s spreading insurgency, Western military officials said.

Though finally stepping down as army chief, he is likely to retain much of his old power as a civilian president, fortified by his emergency decree on Nov. 3, and loyalists he chose at the top of the military, according to Pakistani officials and analysts.

But in fairly short order, Mr. Musharraf, who plunged the nation into political turmoil with his emergency decree and has been a sometimes frustrating partner in Washington’s fight against terrorism, will become a diminished figure, they said, a civilian president in a country where traditionally the power lies with an elected prime minister, or the military chiefs who have overthrown them. Mr. Musharraf came to power in such a coup.

Though General Kayani is considered loyal to the president, the real levers of power will pass to him, and he is believed to favor removing the army from the center of politics, they said. “Kayani is loyal to Musharraf, but also to Pakistan,” one Western military official said.

And as much as Washington has supported Mr. Musharraf, having a chief of the army on the job full time is a change likely to be welcomed. Bush administration officials have already praised General Kayani as someone they can work with.

General Kayani, an infantry commander and a graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, which he attended in 1987 and 1988, has been described by Western diplomats and military officials as well liked and by far Pakistan’s most capable commander.

He has already played a prominent role in cooperating with the United States. He was promoted to full general and made vice chief of Army Staff in October. He immediately visited units serving on the front lines in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and said that sorting out the difficulties plaguing western Pakistan was a priority, a Western military official said.

Even with his new oath of office, Mr. Musharraf will confront considerable political challenges. Before giving up his army post, he transferred the power to lift the de facto martial law to the presidency in a decree last week, and so any decision to lift it remains firmly in his hands.

He continues under intense pressure to rescind the decree he used to suspend the Constitution and appoint a new Supreme Court. The decree has been criticized by opponents and Western diplomats as a blatant move to have his recent election as president confirmed.

Mr. Musharraf is also under pressure to free the senior lawyers and judges who declared his emergency decree illegal and remain under house arrest. Once freed, they are likely to resume their campaign against him.

Not least, with parliamentary elections set for Jan. 8, he will also have to deal with two political opponents who are freshly back from exile, the former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the man he overthrew in a coup in 1999.

Both politicians have called for Mr. Musharraf’s resignation and for changes in the Constitution to curb the president’s powers over Parliament. As leaders of Pakistan’s largest political parties, either could head the next government as prime minister, perpetuating their power struggles with Mr. Musharraf as president.

While the military under General Kayani is likely to support Mr. Musharraf as president, it is unlikely to intervene to save him in further political tests of will, said a former general and political analyst, Talat Masood.

One indication of the mood is a letter that 20 former generals, air marshals and admirals, including Mr. Masood, sent this week to President Musharraf calling on him to resign as head of state as well as chief of the army.

They called on him to lift the emergency and restore the Constitution, withdraw curbs on the news media and release political prisoners. Imposing the emergency as chief of army staff was bringing the armed forces into disrepute, they said.

“The actions he is taking are really detrimental to the state,” Mr. Masood said. They had encouraged other countries to interfere in Pakistan’s affairs, specifically Saudi Arabia and the United States, in a way they never had before, and caused Pakistan to lose international respect, he said. He also criticized Mr. Musharraf for suggesting that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would not be safe if he were not in power, which he said was simply untrue.

One of the hardest things for Mr. Musharraf now may be to stop giving the commands.

“He’s the one who wants to sit in the driving seat,” said Pervaiz Elahi, who served as chief minister of the Punjab under General Musharraf. “As commander in chief and president, I still see him as controlling the army for five years,” he said.

He added that he did not think General Kayani would seek to change anything. “Kayani is a person who just goes by the book,” he said.

Though no longer in control of the army, Mr. Musharraf will retain some levers of influence within the military and the intelligence services, like his personal relationship with Gen. Nadeem Taj, the head of the Inter-Intelligence Services, officials said.

Yet other officials said that even with the extra powers given to the president in recent years, such as chairing the National Security Council, real power resides with the army chief. Unlike the American system, a civilian president in Pakistan is titular head of the armed forces.

“By the law of inertia he will continue to have some hold of the army,” said I. A. Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. But he predicted that during the coming months Mr. Musharraf’s influence would diminish. “He will still have ears in the army, but he will not be able to dictate to them,” Mr. Rehman said.

Much depends on who forms a government after parliamentary elections, because military appointments, among other things, technically reside with the prime minister, said Najam Sethi, editor of The Daily Times.

In a recent interview, Mr. Musharraf indicated that he hoped his supporters in the previous governing coalition would be returned with a majority again, but some of those members complain that his own mistakes during the past nine months have damaged their chances at the polls.

A series of high-handed actions turned Mr. Musharraf from a popular domestic figure and a trophy of sorts for Washington — he signed up to the fight against terrorism immediately after 9/11 — to an embattled leader at home and an increasing embarrassment for the Bush administration.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” President Bush said he appreciated that Mr. Musharraf had “kept his word” to step down as military chief.

“I also hope that he enhances Pakistani democracy, and taking off his uniform is a strong first step,” he said. “And having elections that are out from underneath the emergency law would be a clear signal that he has put Pakistan back on the road.”

Mr. Musharraf’s friends and critics alike point to his decision to dismiss the chief justice of the former Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in early March as his biggest blunder, one that inexorably led to the imposition of emergency rule on Nov. 3.

“He lost his head and tried to fire the chief justice,” said Humayun Gauhar, a friend and the ghostwriter of Mr. Musharraf’s memoir, “In the Line of Fire.”

Mr. Musharraf was prompted by his fear that the increasingly independent court under Justice Chaudhry would eventually rule against him in his effort to be re-elected as president while he remained as army chief, Mr. Gauhar said.

Because of his military mind-set, Mr. Musharraf failed to calculate, Mr. Gauhar said, that the chief justice would mount a popular movement of lawyers against Mr. Musharraf.

“Asking the chief justice to retire was a command,” Mr. Gauhar said. “I don’t think the refusal was ever in his scheme. A civilian would always keep that possibility in mind.”

The firing of the chief justice brought out a latent public dissatisfaction with military rule. Mr. Musharraf’s refusal to give up his military post became the focus of the opposition and obscured many of his earlier achievements, his supporters said.

When he seized power in 1999 and ousted Mr. Sharif, the former prime minister who returned to Pakistan last weekend, Mr. Musharraf was seen as a welcome newcomer who had the ability to clean up the pervasive corruption in Pakistan’s politics. He described himself as a modernizer. He encouraged the opening of independent television stations, and freed up the statist economy.

Born in India in 1943, he came to Pakistan as a refugee at partition in 1947. That status made him an outsider to the feudal society that had produced most of the nation’s rulers.

In the beginning of his rule, he moved swiftly against corruption, said Farook Adam Khan, who served then as prosecutor general for the National Accountability Bureau. But after a year, the general switched gears, Mr. Khan said, stopped pursuing corruption cases and acquiesced to the religious parties in his coalition over various efforts at reforms.

Mr. Musharraf’s supporters say that removing his uniform may come just in time for the president to regain some of his standing.

“As a president without uniform he will help us in the coming elections,” said Mr. Elahi, the former minister who is touted as a likely prime minister if his pro-Musharraf party retains majority.

Carlotta Gall reported from Lahore. Jane Perlez contributed reporting from Islamabad. Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.

LAT : Ex-sailor accused of plotting to attack San Diego base

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ex-sailor accused of plotting to attack San Diego base

FBI witnesses say Hassan Abujihaad, awaiting trial on charges that he told extremists about U.S. ship movements, also conspired to shoot military personnel.

By Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer | November 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- A former U.S. Navy sailor, already charged with divulging classified ship movements to British extremists linked to Al Qaeda, also discussed details of a previously undisclosed plan to attack a San Diego military base in late 2006 with at least two other men, authorities said Wednesday.

Testifying in a federal court hearing in New Haven, Conn., FBI Special Agent David Dillon said Hassan Abujihaad, 31, of Phoenix had extensive discussions about the alleged plot with an Illinois man, Derrick Shareef, and to a lesser degree with [William Chrisman,] an undercover FBI informant Shareef had introduced to him.

According to a court motion filed by federal prosecutors that was unsealed Wednesday, Shareef and Abujihaad talked in 2003, while they were roommates in Phoenix, of attacking a military recruiting station; in 2004 proposed attacking the unspecified San Diego base with sniper fire; and in 2006 took concrete steps to pursue such an attack.

Prosecutors are seeking to introduce evidence of the alleged plot at Abujihaad's trial, set for early next month. That evidence includes wiretaps, statements from [Chrisman] the informant -- himself a central participant in the alleged conspiracy -- and "efforts to obtain weapons and ammunition in connection with the proposed sniper attack," said the 123-page motion.

The prosecutors said Shareef and Abujihaad conspired to commit sedition, or to "put down the government of the United States, or levy war against it, or to oppose its force by authority" as well as to attempt to kill officers or employees of the U.S., particularly military members.

Lawyers for Abujihaad and Shareef could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

At Wednesday's hearing, Dillon and the informant testified for hours that Abujihaad and Shareef had talked frequently about the plot, plans to buy semiautomatic weapons and their anger at the U.S. for its treatment of Muslims worldwide. The court filing includes many snippets of those conversations, but most of the time the two men seem to be talking in code or seeking to avoid discussing details because Abujihaad suspected, correctly, that the FBI was wiretapping them.

In some conversations, Abujihaad appears reluctant to help carry out such an attack, in part because he knew FBI agents were watching him to see if he had relationships with extremists overseas. But in one taped call in November 2006, he told Shareef that he would support the alleged plot with "whatever I can ... with whatever Allah has instilled me to ... help out with," the court filing says.

Prosecutors acknowledged that after his arrest last December, Shareef said that his discussions with Abujihaad were "idle talk," but those comments were dismissed as "self-serving."

Prosecutors also acknowledged that in several calls, [Chrisman] the informant appears to be initiating efforts to proceed with the plot and to buy weapons. "But that's not the only evidence the government has," said one Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

The alleged plan was to shoot up a barracks or cafeteria where military personnel would likely be unarmed, and then pick off people with sniper fire as they fled, according to Wednesday's testimony and the court filing.

Prosecutors said the plans never got far, in part because Shareef became more interested in attacking holiday shoppers in Illinois with grenades that he planned to drop in garbage bins in a shopping mall. Then Abujihaad, a Muslim convert whose given name is Paul R. Hall, was arrested in March.

On Wednesday, Shareef, 23, who is also a convert to Islam, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. In his plea before a judge in Chicago, Shareef admitted to planning to set off grenades in the CherryVale Mall in Rockford, Ill., last December.

Authorities would not say whether Shareef, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, was cooperating in the investigation of Abujihaad. That investigation focuses at least in part on the former Navy signalman's alleged ties to Al Qaeda-affiliated extremists in Britain, including a prominent religious leader named Babar Ahmad.

Authorities have charged Abujihaad with providing extremist websites operated by Ahmad and others with classified information about the location of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them.

Abujihaad exchanged e-mail messages with Ahmad while on active duty on the guided-missile destroyer Benfold in 2000 and 2001, according to an FBI affidavit. In those messages, Abujihaad also praised Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and those who attacked the U.S. destroyer Cole in 2000, the affidavit said.

Wednesday's hearing was held to determine whether prosecutors may introduce evidence about their new allegations at Abujihaad's trial, even though he has not been charged in connection with the alleged conspiracy.

ABC : Ill. Mall Bomb Plotter Pleads Guilty

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ill. Mall Bomb Plotter Pleads Guilty

Government Says Plotter Had Ties to Other Terror Suspect, Alleged Sniper Plot

By JASON RYAN and THERESA COOK | November 28, 2007

A man who plotted a terror attack on an Illinois shopping mall last holiday season pleaded guilty to a related federal charge in a Chicago court Wednesday.

Derrick Shareef, 23, entered a guilty plea to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction after authorities uncovered his plot to detonate grenades at a Rockford, Ill. shopping mall. Rockford is approximately 85 miles northwest of Chicago.

Federal agents arrested Shareef Dec. 6, 2006, after a sting operation in which he attempted to trade stereo speakers to an undercover agent for four grenades and a gun. Shareef has remained in federal custody since his arrest.

Additionally, authorities say Shareef was connected to Hassan Abujihaad, a former sailor with the U.S. Navy who is facing charges that he allegedly passed military secrets about naval movements through waters in the Middle East to al Qaeda-related Web sites during the spring of 2001, several months after terrorists attacked the USS Cole in Yemen.

A filing in Abujihaad's case, unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut where the case is being handled, noted that "Hassan Abujihaad told Shareef that he was the individual responsible for the disclosure of information regarding the upcoming movements of a U.S. Naval battle group -- information which was subsequently found on a computer floppy disk in the possession of members of an alleged terrorist support cell in London."

That filing also said the pair had lived together in Phoenix, "where Abujihaad had settled after completing his military service."

But the documents claim the two also plotted attacks on domestic U.S. military installations.

From 2003 to 2004 and again in the fall of 2006, the documents allege, Abujihaad and Shareef "participated in discussions about engaging in an attack on a domestic U.S. military recruiting station and engaging in a coordinated sniper attack on a domestic U.S. military base/barracks."

The case against Abujihaad's purports to show a complex nexus of international terrorism, as he allegedly sent the classified information on U.S. warship movements to U.K. terrorism suspect Babar Ahmad.

Ahmad was indicted in the United States in 2004 for allegedly providing material support to Chechen terrorist groups and the Taliban. He is currently battling his extradition to the United States in British courts.

From the late 1990s until 2004, Ahmad allegedly ran Web sites for Azzam Publications, which used to carry propaganda for al Qaeda. The Azzam Web site was a key recruitment and propaganda tool for al Qaeda and mujahedeen fighters.

As for Shareef, it remains unclear how much of a threat he really is, as authorities have maintained their belief that he was acting alone in the Rockford mall plot.

At the time of his arrest last year, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said of Shareef, "If he was being directed by overseas terrorists, he wouldn't have been trading two stereo speakers to buy grenades."

A federal judge has scheduled Shareef's sentencing for March 14, 2008. He faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.

CT Post : Testimony says former Navy man planned attack

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Testimony says former Navy man planned attack

MICHAEL P. MAYKO | | November 28, 2007

NEW HAVEN - A former U.S. Navy signalman, already under indictment for disclosing ship movements to a terrorist cell linked to al-Quida, also allegedly discussed plans to attack the San Diego Naval base in late Oct 2006. FBI special agent David Dylan testified in federal court Thursday that Hassan Abujihaad, 31, of Phoenix discussed this plan with Derrick Shareef. Dylan said that Abujihaad knew the layout of the base because he had been stationed there. The agent said the plan was to attack a barracks or chow hall to create turmoil and then pick off service men by sniper attacks. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Reynolds said the plans were never followed through.

That's the because the prosecutor said Shareef was more intent on lobbing grenades into a suburban Illinois shopping mall during the 2006 holiday season. The testimony came during a hearing Wednesday where U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz was to determine if the prosecution could use alleged uncharged terrorist acts against Abujihaad during his upcoming trial in February.

Abujihaad has pleaded not guilty to providing material that could be used to kill Americans and disclosing classified military information to a terrorist's support cell in London.

While stationed aboard the USS Benfold, a destroyer in an 11-vessel battleship group, Abujihaad, who eventually received an honorable discharge from the Navy, allegedly e-mailed information on the ship's location and their vulnerability during a communications blackout as they sailed through the Strait of Hormuz on April 29, 2001.

CT Post : Secret records at issue in terror trial

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Secret records at issue in terror trial

MICHAEL P. MAYKO | | November 28, 2007

NEW HAVEN — The use of secret documents in the trial of a former U.S. Navy signalman accused of giving classified information to terrorists will be debated during a series of evidentiary hearings in federal court beginning this morning.

U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz has set aside several days to hear testimony that will form the basis for the government's case against Hassan Abujihaad, 31, once known as Paul Hall. FBI recordings and a cooperating witness are expected to try to link Abujihaad to a cohort in Chicago who planned a Christmas season attack last year on a suburban mall. That attack was stymied when the FBI arrest the Chicago man.

Abujihaad, of Phoenix, Ariz., also is accused of providing classified information to an al-Qaida support cell in London. The information was sent via computer aboard the U.S.S. Benfold, a destroyer where Abujihaad was assigned, through a web-hosting firm in Trumbull to a site rented by Azzam Publications, a Muslim-based business in London.

The indictment alleges that Abujihaad e-mailed ship movements and personnel of an American Naval battle group headed to the Middle East in the spring of 2001. He is accused of advising the terrorist cell that the ships would be sailing through the Straits of Hormuz on April 29, 2001, under a communications blackout. The indictment alleges he also informed the cell the ships would be vulnerable to an attack using rocket-propelled grenades. However, none of the 10 ships and one submarine in the battle group was attacked.

Abujihaad, who is detained without bond, was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2002.

He is represented by Daniel LaBelle and Robert Golger, two court-appointed lawyers from Fairfield County. Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan, who are associated with Azzam Publications, are also under indictment and awaiting extradition from England. Kravitz has set Feb. 13 for the start of jury selection in Abujihaad's trial. He has tentatively set aside Feb. 25 to March 14 for the trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Reynolds is prosecuting the case. FBI Special Agent David Dillon, who has investigated Bridgeport drug gangs, and Senior Special Agent Craig Bowling of the Department of Homeland Security, conducted the probe after uncovering evidence on the Internet following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Daily Times : Top military change won’t affect war on terror commitment: FO

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Top military change won’t affect war on terror commitment: FO

* Spokesman says suspension of C’wealth membership will not affect Pakistan materially

sajjad malik | November 29, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Wednesday that the change in the top military command would not dent Pakistan’s role in the US-led war on terror.

“There would be no shift in the war on terror due to President General Pervez Musharraf’s doffing of uniform … it has nothing to do with the war on terror policy,” Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said at a weekly press briefing.

He said reports about the delay in the composite dialogue process with India were not true. “The reports about a delay of the peace process were only in the media, there was nothing like that on the ground, so I cannot verify them,” Sadiq said.

He said India and Pakistan had agreed to open five crossing points along the Line of Control (LoC) at Chakhoti, Rawalakot, Nosehri, Haji Pir and Tatta Pani to facilitate Kashmiris in cross-LoC movement, but only the first three points could be opened and they were still operational.

He said Turkish President Abdullah Gul would visit Pakistan on December 2. He said the visit was taking place to mark the 60th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Completely unaffected: Sadiq said Pakistan had not yet formally decided about a future strategy regarding the Commonwealth, after suspension of its membership on November 22. He said the suspension would not affect Pakistan materially, as the ongoing cooperation with the Commonwealth in different areas would continue. “We can only not attend the meetings,” he said.

He said Pakistani missions abroad had so far not received any request for a visa to monitor the forthcoming elections. He hoped that these missions would get solid proposals from interested groups to visit Pakistan to cover the polls.

He also rejected the impression that Pakistan had acted against the wishes of Hamas by attending the US-sponsored Middle East Conference. “All Middle East countries attended the conference and our participation was not meant to send a message to anyone,” he said, adding that Pakistan attended the conference in Annapolis, USA, because it was invited by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“Pakistan believes that the resolution of the Palestine issue is essential to ensure peace and stability, and the alleviation of sufferings in the Middle East,” he said. He also welcomed the establishment of a Pak-Sri Lanka Association by the Sri Lankan parliament on November 21 and said it signified the deep-rooted relations between the two countries.

On the issuance of licenses to friendly Arab leaders for hunting Houbara Bustards in Pakistan, Sadiq said the practice had been going on for decades, but licenses were issued only for a limited area and a specified period.

He said the government was also promoting the artificial breeding of the bird. He confirmed that the government had sent two groups to Europe and the US to meet Pakistani expatriates and leaders of these countries to inform them about developments in Pakistan.

To a question about the extradition of Rashid Rauf, the main accused in the aborted transatlantic aircraft plot, he said, “I am not aware of it as only the Interior Ministry would know.” On the Iran nuclear issue, Sadiq said the issue should be resolved through talks at the International Atomic Energy Authority level.

AP : Hearing Focuses on Ex-Sailor's Calls

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hearing Focuses on Ex-Sailor's Calls

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN | November 28, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Wednesday played phone calls from a former Navy sailor accused of supporting terrorism by disclosing the location of ships, but the ex-sailor says a recent ruling against the Patriot Act made the calls illegal to intercept.

The phone calls were played in a court hearing to decide whether to admit the evidence in the case against Hassan Abu-Jihaad. Lawyers for Abu-Jihaad have argued that the calls and other evidence, such as e-mail searches, should be thrown out after a judge's ruling in September that struck down portions of the Patriot Act.

In one phone call between the sailor and some friends, Abu-Jihaad is heard making what prosecutors said is a coded reference to Osama bin Laden, using the phrase "under the black leaves."

He is also heard talking about the different techniques of American and Islamic snipers.

Abu-Jihaad, 31, of Phoenix, pleaded not guilty in April to charges he provided material support to terrorists with intent to kill U.S. citizens and disclosed classified information relating to the national defense. He has been held without bail since his arrest in March in Phoenix.

His lawyers are citing a ruling by a federal judge in Oregon that struck down key portions of the USA Patriot Act as unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled the act cannot be used to authorize secret searches and wiretapping to gather criminal evidence — instead of intelligence gathering — without violating the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Bush Administration is appealing the ruling.

Abu-Jihaad is charged in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist arrested in 2004 and accused of running Web sites to raise money for terrorism. Ahmad is to be extradited to the U.S.

During a search of Ahmad's computers, investigators discovered files containing classified information about the positions of U.S. Navy ships and discussing their susceptibility to attack, officials said.

Abu-Jihaad exchanged e-mails with Ahmad while on active duty on the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, in 2000 and 2001, according to an FBI affidavit. In those e-mails, Abu-Jihaad discussed naval briefings and praised bin Laden and those who attacked the USS Cole in 2000, according to the affidavit.

Abu-Jihaad allegedly discussed attacking military personnel and recruiting stations with his former roommate, Derrick Shareef, 22, of Genoa, Ill., who was accused of planning to use hand grenades to attack holiday shoppers at a mall in a separate case.

Abu-Jihaad, who received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002, faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

New Haven Independent : Ode To Osama

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ode To Osama

by Melissa Bailey | November 28, 2007

In secretly recorded phone calls that rung through a quiet courtroom, an ex-U.S. Navy sailor laughs with a friend as a sniper tears U.S. soldiers’ bodies apart, and lauds the “psychological anxiety” wreaked on the USA by his coded hero, “Under the Black Leaves.”

“Under the Black Leaves” was a thinly veiled name for Usama (Osama) Bin Laden — the man Hassan Abu-Jihaad was supposed to be fighting with his naval battle group back in 2000 and 2001.

Instead of helping the U.S. fight Bin Laden, government prosecutors charge, the former sailor leaked sensitive information about the Navy’s movements to people involved in a London-based terrorist cell.

Abu-Jihaad, 31, of Arizona, sat quietly in a bright orange prison shirt before Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven U.S. District Court Wednesday as federal prosecutors rolled out phone calls, emails and a star undercover witness to build their case against him. The young ex-sailor, formerly known as Paul R. Hall, was indicted in March on two counts of providing material support of terrorism and giving out classified info related to national defense.

Abu-Jihaad has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The bulk of the government’s case rests on emails Abu-Jihaad allegedly sent to a London-based organization called Azzam Publications, leaking information about the Navy’s weaknesses and whereabouts.

The case began in 2003, when British law enforcement seized a floppy disk containing leaked Navy info. Azzam’s website had originally been run on servers in Trumbull, Conn., leading the case — and this week’s pre-trial hearing — to the charge of the New Haven FBI.

“Under the Black Leaves”

Prosecutors spent Wednesday adding a slew of statements, many procured by FBI wiretaps, to the case against the ex-sailor. Phone calls were not all directly related to the info leaked to London, but they paint a picture of a fiercely anti-American extremist bent on bringing doom to U.S. forces. Conversations were recorded from October to December of 2006, as part of a separate investigation into a friend named Derrick Shareef — who incidentally pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to set off grenades in a Chicago-area shopping mall.

Click here to read a government memo unsealed Wednesday describing conversations and emails.

In one conversation with a friend, Abu-Jihaad praises the “Juba Sniper,” a man who claimed to have killed 37 U.S. soldiers. The friend asks if Abu-Jihaad has seen an internet video where the sniper tears apart the bodies of soldiers.

According to the tapes played in court, Abu-Jihaad says in reverence: “Juba was a cold dude … if he’s still breathing, may Allah still let him be plugging them dudes … If not, I know he done train more … in the skills and tactics that he got … ‘cuz he was laying ‘em down!”

In a 2006 phone conversation, when Abu-Jihaad apparently suspects the FBI is tapping his phone, he decides to start referring to Usama Bin Laden by a thinly-veiled code: “Under the Black Leaves.” Muslims should “bankrupt” non-believers through acts of terrorism, Abu-Jihaad allegedly says, praising the ideology of “Under the Black Leaves.”

Prosecutors also read from an earlier email to London wherein the ex-sailor recommends an article advocating violent jihad. He praises Usama’s latest video for spreading “psychological anxiety” on American forces, and calls the attack on the USS Cole a “martyrdom operation.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steve Reynolds and William Nardini took turns explicating the material.

Undercover Extremist

After lunch Wednesday, the government rolled out its star witness: A guy from New Jersey who shed his life of crime to befriend and betray suspected terrorists. Jameel Chrisman, in a plaid shirt and tight-fitting skull cap, took the stand Wednesday and described conversations he’d had with Shareef the mall-bomber and others.

Chrisman had been convicted of armed robbery and car theft before the FBI recruited him to their side. He was assigned to befriend Shareef, and ended up moving in with him in Rockford, Ill. He posed as an Islamic extremist to gain Shareef’s trust and then record days’ worth of conversations with him. The trail led him back to Shareef’s childhood mentor, Abu-Jihaad.

The government’s using Chrisman’s testimony in part in effort to establish that Shareef and Abu-Jihaad were co-conspirators in a plot to attack a military recruiting station in Phoenix and a military base in San Diego.

Abu-Jihaad’s attorneys, Dan LaBelle and Robert Golger, argue the new statements garnered from Chrisman should not be admitted as evidence. They characterized the statements as a lot of talk that showed jihadists sympathies, but did not prove any conspiracy.

Judge Kravitz has yet to rule on whether the new statements should be admissible. The pre-trial hearing continues Thursday, possibly into Friday.

NYT : Musharraf Prepares to Drop Army Role

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Musharraf Prepares to Drop Army Role

By GRAHAM BOWLEY and JANE PERLEZ | November 28, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 27 — The Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, conducted what the Pakistani military said was a round of farewell calls to the country’s armed forces today, a day before officials say he will relinquish his role of chief of the army.

Nawaz Sharif wiped his face as a team of lawyers presented his nominating papers to the electoral commission in Lahore on Monday. Mr. Sharif has said he will not take part in parliamentary elections, set for January, unless the emergency rule is lifted.

Pakistan’s top officials said on Monday that after giving up his uniform General Musharraf would be sworn in as a civilian president in Islamabad on Thursday. That would be a belated, though significant, concession to both his political opposition here and supporters in the Bush administration who have demanded it as an important step toward restoring civilian rule.

Today, General Musharraf visited the Joint Chief of Staff headquarters, where he was received by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen. Tariq Majeed, the military said in a statement. Later, he visited the naval headquarters and the air headquarters.

However, General Musharraf’s opponents have made clear that the step to give up his military role may not be enough to appease his critics.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has returned to Pakistan after an eight-year absence to make a challenge in parliamentary elections scheduled for January, condemned General Musharraf for imposing emergency rule on Nov. 3.

Mr. Sharif said he would not serve as prime minister under a Musharraf presidency, demanded an end to the state of emergency and called for the reinstatement of fired Supreme Court justices.

Mr. Sharif was tossed out of power by General Musharraf in a 1999 coup. Such a forceful stand contrasts in many respects to Mr. Sharif’s own time as prime minister. He is best remembered here and in Washington as the leader who brought the world a nuclear Pakistan, flirted with war with India and forged strong ties with religious conservatives. His tenure was marred by charges of rampant corruption and by confrontations with the courts and the media as well.

Mr. Sharif’s return to Pakistan now is likely to stir deep unease in the Bush administration, which has stood with General Musharraf as its best bet in the fight against terrorism, said Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who until recently dealt with Pakistan issues at the State Department.

Nonetheless, Washington appears to have taken a back seat, or at least a stance of resignation at the inevitable, as the Saudis, perhaps Pakistan’s most revered ally, engineered the return of Mr. Sharif, Mr. Markey said.

Not least, Mr. Sharif’s return complicates the Bush administration’s support for Benazir Bhutto, another former prime minister and opposition leader, whom Washington has favored as a more secular politician, and a more certain partner against Islamic extremists.

Officials in Washington and London promoted her return from exile in October as a way to put a friendlier face on General Musharraf’s increasingly unpopular military regime.

While Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif are known to detest the general, they detest each other as well. Whether they can form a cohesive opposition against General Musharraf before parliamentary elections set for Jan. 8 is far from clear.

While Mr. Sharif said he would not take part in the elections unless the emergency rule was lifted, he went ahead to meet the Monday deadline for filing nominating papers for the election.

Mr. Sharif is the son of a wealthy industrialist and a protégé of the military dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, a leader who also favored a conservative strain of Islam.

As prime minister twice — from 1990 to 1993 and from 1997 to 1999 — he is remembered by Pakistanis as the leader who decided to test Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in response to India’s nuclear tests in 1998. It was an immensely popular decision among Pakistanis, and ever since Mr. Sharif has been remembered as the leader who stood up to the world and showed off Pakistan’s nuclear prowess.

But that step won him little favor in Washington. President Clinton tried to persuade Mr. Sharif to hold back, appealing to his vanity with an offer of a state dinner at the White House and to his country’s pocket with billions of dollars in aid, according to Bruce Riedel, the member of the National Security Council who dealt with Pakistan at the time.

For some secular Pakistanis, Mr. Sharif’s return forebodes a strengthening of the religious right, which already has more seats in Parliament than when he was prime minister.

“For me this is a fight between Wahhabism and secular values,” said Fasih Ahmed, 30, a businessman from Mr. Sharif’s political base in Lahore, in a reference to the conservative strain of Islam favored by Saudi Arabia. “Nawaz is extremely close to the religious right.”

Mr. Sharif displayed his religious leanings during his second term when he tried to introduce Shariah, Islamic law, with a bill that gave the prime minister, and not the courts, the power to enforce religious edicts.

The legislation passed the lower house. But the bill ultimately failed in the Senate despite unusual visits by religious leaders, organized by Mr. Sharif’s political party, to the Senate chamber to press members for its passage.

As much as Mr. Sharif railed against General Musharraf on Monday for meddling with the Supreme Court, as prime minister, Mr. Sharif did so as well.

In his second term, Mr. Sharif opposed some of the appointees to the court made by the chief justice at the time, Sajjad Ali Shah. At one point a mob organized by his party, and including cabinet ministers, broke into the Supreme Court building in the capital, Islamabad.

They upended furniture and chased Mr. Shah out of the courtroom before being treated to afternoon tea by Mr. Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who was the chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

“It still haunted us that our government stormed the Supreme Court, it was definitely a stigma,” said Khawaja Mohammed Asif, a member of Mr. Sharif’s cabinet at the time.

The Sharif government was not known as a friend of the news media, either.

In an effort to squelch a newspaper that was critical of Mr. Sharif, Najam Sethi, editor in chief of The Daily Times, was arrested in the middle of the night from his home in 1999 by government agents, gagged, held for almost a month, and threatened with charges of tax evasion and sedition. At the time, Mr. Sethi had written about Mr. Sharif’s “obsession with total power.”

For Washington, the pivotal encounter with Mr. Sharif came with the tense meeting between Mr. Sharif and President Clinton on July 4, 1999.

The episode involved the possibility of nuclear war over the escalation of the conflict between Pakistan and India in May 1999 in the contested area of Kashmir.

Pakistani-backed Kashmir militants and regular army units had advanced into an area known as Kargil, a remote part of the Himalayas. The forces had gained significant tactical control and were threatening India’s traditional positions.

There was “disturbing information about Pakistan preparing its nuclear arsenal for possible use,” wrote Mr. Riedel, the National Security Council official who was with Mr. Clinton at the talks, and wrote a published account afterward.

Mr. Sharif had appealed to Mr. Clinton for help and rushed to Washington on short notice, according to Mr. Riedel, because he was unsure of his standing with the army, which was led by General Musharraf, the man Mr. Sharif had picked for the job.

The prime minister himself was afraid that the army’s actions in Kashmir would start a war with India, said Mr. Riedel, who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

In Washington, Mr. Sharif was actually greeted at Dulles airport by the Saudi ambassador at the time, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was asked by President Clinton to weigh in with the prime minister, who appeared worried for his life, Mr. Riedel wrote.

But as the talks got under way, Mr. Sharif was initially unforthcoming with Mr. Clinton about how to solve the situation.

Mr. Clinton became angry, complaining that Pakistan had promised but failed to bring Osama bin Laden to justice from Afghanistan, Mr. Riedel recounted. Mr. Sharif had allowed Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, to work with the Taliban to foment terrorism, Mr. Clinton told him.

The president got specific about the nuclear threat: “Did Sharif order the Pakistani nuclear missile force to prepare for action? Did he realize how crazy that was?” Mr. Clinton effectively asked, according to Mr. Riedel. “You’ve put me in the middle today, set the U.S. up to fail and I won’t let it happen. Pakistan is messing with nuclear war.”

Mr. Sharif denied that he had ordered the preparation of the nuclear weapons, Mr. Riedel said.

By the end of the discussions, Mr. Sharif agreed to order his army to pull back its men and its allies and “to do the right thing for Pakistan and the world,” Mr. Riedel said. But, “he was not sure his army would see it that way.”

Three months later, it was clear the army did not agree, and Mr. Sharif was out of his job.

In October, Mr. Sharif tried to move against General Musharraf by denying the general’s plane permission to land in Pakistan on its return from a trip to Sri Lanka. The military rebelled and opened the airport in Karachi, and General Musharraf had Mr. Sharif arrested and put in jail.

In a footnote to the saga, Mr. Riedel recounts that Mr. Clinton urged General Musharraf not to execute Mr. Sharif as General Zia had executed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, father of Benazir Bhutto, in 1979.

“With our encouragement, the Saudis pressed hard for Sharif’s freedom,” Mr. Riedel said, and finally in December 2000 he was sent into exile to the kingdom, from where he has now returned.

Jane Perlez reported from Islamabad. Graham Bowley reported from New York.

IHT : Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan

Monday, November 26, 2007

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan

By Carlotta Gall | November 25, 2007

LAHORE, Pakistan: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan arrived home from exile to a tumultuous welcome at the Lahore airport Sunday evening, providing a new rallying point for the country's disillusioned opposition and setting the stage for an overnight shift of the political scene.

Hundreds of supporters whistled and cheered, hoisting Sharif and his brother Shahbaz on their shoulders through ranks of wary riot police officers.

"I have come to save this country," Sharif said from on top of a radio cab desk in the arrivals hall. "I have come to fulfill the responsibility that is given me." But few in the crowd could hear him, so loud was the chanting and cheering from supporters. "Long live! Long live! Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!" they shouted.

The bitterest rival of the president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, Sharif was returning eight years after his government was overthrown by the general and he was thrown into prison and later sent into exile.

His attempt to return to the country in September was met with a massive police crackdown, and he was immediately deported on the orders of Musharraf, who has repeatedly said he would not allow Sharif back to contest parliamentary elections.

Yet in a sign of the rapidly changing political environment in Pakistan, and after Saudi Arabia, which has been the host of Sharif for much of the last seven years, interceded on the former prime minister's behalf, Musharraf relented this week and agreed to allow Sharif and his brother to return.

A heavy police deployment tried to prevent a large crowd from forming at the airport and along the route into town, but it did not try to restrain Sharif or break up the gathering of his supporters. Police vehicles provided him with an escort into the city of Lahore.

Sharif is a rich industrialist from Lahore who gained enormous national popularity as prime minister when he conducted Pakistan's first nuclear explosions, in 1998. His return came with barely one day left for candidates to file their nomination papers for parliamentary elections, is likely to create immediate and profound change in the political situation here.

Sharif represents the most formidable challenge to Musharraf's remaining in power as president for another five-year term, since unlike the other former prime minister and opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, Sharif has publicly ruled out doing any deal with the general and has called for his removal from power and criticized his imposition of emergency rule.

"These conditions are not conducive to free and fair elections," Sharif said at the airport, The Associated Press reported. "I think the constitution of Pakistan should be restored, and there should be rule of law."

Sharif's unimpeded return suggested that Musharraf and his ruling party, a faction of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, was resigned to his political comeback. Analysts say the faction that has backed Musharraf for the past five years is likely to suffer the most from Sharif's return.

Bruce Riedel, a former Clinton administration official and member of the National Security Council who negotiated with Sharif on many occasions, characterized his return as a major setback for Musharraf.

"Being forced to so accept Sharif's return from exile shows how much power Musharraf has lost in the last few months," Riedel said.

The two men loathed each other, said Riedel, who is now a senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington, and Musharraf referred to Sharif as a "fascist" in his memoirs published last year.

As prime minister, Sharif chose Musharraf as head of the army. But he became disillusioned and uncomfortable with the general over the army's actions in Kashmir. Sharif tried to depose Musharraf from head of the army position by refusing to allow the general's plane to land when Musharraf was returning from a trip abroad on Oct. 12, 1999.

When Musharraf's plane finally landed, the general promptly staged a bloodless coup against Sharif and convicted him on hijacking charges.

Now Sharif would be seeking revenge, Riedel said.

"Sharif plans to lead a united opposition and banish Musharraf into exile," he said.

In his first words to his supporters Sunday, Sharif reiterated that he had not done any deal to return and would put an end to the politics of backroom deals.

"My deal is with you people," he said. "My heart says that there will be a change and the poor will get employment."

Sharif's return from Saudi Arabia was negotiated in the last few days, when Musharraf made a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia, where Sharif has been living since his deportation in September. The Pakistani leader asked the Saudi leader, King Abdullah, to keep Sharif in exile until after the elections, scheduled for Jan. 8, but the Saudi leader made it clear that he no longer wanted to be taking sides in Pakistan's politics, according to politicians close to the government.

Sharif's party has and an alliance of opposition parties have called for a boycott of the parliamentary elections unless the de facto martial law imposed by Musharraf three weeks ago is lifted within days.

Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League in Punjab Province, said that Sharif had called a meeting Thursday of an umbrella group of opposition parties, known as the All Parties Democratic Movement, to discuss whether the parties should participate in the election that many of them have called illegitimate.

The meeting at Sharif's farmhouse in Raiwind, just outside of Lahore, would include all the major opposition parties, including Bhutto's, the Pakistan People's Party, if its members chose to come, Sarwar said.

Sarwar said that parliamentary and provincial assembly candidates of Sharif's party faction would file nominating papers by the Monday deadline set by Musharraf. That deadline is considered to favor the president because of the short notice. But Sarwar said the filings were "immaterial" because they could be withdrawn easily if the opposition parties decided to boycott.

Even with de facto martial law in force, with restrictions on the media and political parties, including the right to assembly, opposition parties are divided over whether to boycott the elections. Bhutto filed her nomination papers Sunday in her home city of Karachi.

Although Bhutto's party has not made a final decision on a boycott, it is expected to contest the elections rather than risk having no representation in the new assemblies. If the Pakistan People's Party, which is probably the largest political party in the country, contests the elections, Sharif's call for an opposition boycott would founder.

Officials of Sharif's faction, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said that hundreds of party workers were arrested Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The Post : Judiciary, not polls, more important: Imran

Monday, November 26, 2007

Judiciary, not polls, more important: Imran

November 26, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, has appealed to all politicians to show maturity at the political front as the judiciary, for the first time in national history, makes a sacrifice for the rule of law as well as democracy.

Indulging in the political issues before the restoration of judiciary, it could be disastrous and the judges issue especially sacrifices could be disappeared from the current scenario, he told a private news channel on Sunday. "Submitting nomination papers is equal to accepting the Provisional Constitutional Order and the deposing of the judiciary," he said. "If all opposition parties are participating in the so-called elections, PTI will stand on its decision of boycotting the polls," he added.

The cricketer-turned politician said that the game plan of holding the general elections under the state of emergency was ready, and the caretaker administration was a part of that plan.

Dawn : APDM to boycott elections : Govt given four days to lift emergency

Sunday, November 25, 2007

APDM to boycott elections : Govt given four days to lift emergency

November 25, 2007 | By Ahmed Hassan

ISLAMABAD, Nov 24: The All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) on Saturday announced that it would boycott the Jan 8 elections.

The action committee of the 17-party alliance gave a four-day ultimatum to the government to lift the state of emergency and withdraw the Provisional Constitution Order, restore the Constitution and the pre-PCO judiciary and release all political activists, lawyers and judges.

MMA secretary-general and JUI (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman did not attend the meeting and instead sent his representatives. It was the second time that Maulana Fazl did not attend the alliance’s meeting.

The poll boycott decision was also endorsed by PML (N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif.

Another meeting of the APDM will be convened after four days to work out further strategy.

In reply to a question about Maulana Fazl’s absence from the meeting, MMA president Qazi Hussain Ahmed said: “I am responsible for my own party. I am wholeheartedly with the APDM and back its decision. I cannot guarantee that Maulana Fazlur will also follow the alliance’s policy.”

The meeting, convened by PML (N) chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, was held at the residence of Mian Mohammad Aslam, a former MMA MNA. It was attended among others by Qazi Hussain Ahmed, senior MMA leader Liaquat Baloch, PML (N) leaders Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, PTI chief Imran Khan, Balochistan National Movement president Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch and ANP leader Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Raja Zafar said all those members of APDM parties who had filed their nomination papers and those who had yet to do so would not contest the elections. “The elections are being held to legitimise the unconstitutional actions taken by Gen Musharraf on and after Nov 3,” he said.

The PML (N) leader appealed to other political parties, including the PPP, to join hands in a movement against the government. He said the alliance would boycott the elections and launch a movement against the government if it failed to accept the APDM’s demands in four days.

He called for restoration of the Constitution and judiciary and release of all political workers. He said the alliance’s boycott decision was unanimous.

He said the country’s institutions, including the armed forces, had been destroyed. He added that Pakistan had been isolated after the Commonwealth had suspended its membership and 22 countries refused to trade with it.

He said the armed forces were being pitted against people in Balochistan, Fata and now the NWFP.

Qazi Hussain said he would consult the Shoora and take into confidence other parties in the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal over the decision to boycott the elections.

He said the APDM endorsed the resolution of the Pakistan Bar Council calling for restoration of the judiciary in the pre-emergency shape.

Daily Times : Pindi suicide hit third in 3 months

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pindi suicide hit third in 3 months

November 25, 2007

RAWALPINDI: The Saturday’s suicide bombings in Rawalpindi were the third strike by suicide bombers on armed forces in the city in the last three months.

On Sept 4, a suicide attacker blew himself up after boarding a bus carrying armed forces employees, while a roadside bomb went off near General Headquarters (GHQ) in RA Bazaar in Rawalpindi minutes, killing at least 25 people and wounded 66.

On Oct 30, a suicide explosion near Army House killed eight people and injured around 18.

Daily Times : End of emergency vital for fair polls: Patterson

Sunday, November 25, 2007

End of emergency vital for fair polls: Patterson

November 25, 2007

ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson said on Saturday that efforts of her country to hold fair elections in Pakistan were underway, and President General Pervez Musharraf’s government had been apprised repeatedly that the release of political activists and an end to emergency rule was vital in this respect.

Talking to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) acting President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Patterson said that the Bush administration was trying its level best to ensure fair elections.

The overall political situation in the country, general elections, return of former premier and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif were among the issues discussed during the meeting, Online reported.

“We have urged President Musharraf to release all political workers, lift curbs on the media, restore civil rights and end emergency rule in the country because the US favours a sustainable democracy,” she said.

Hashmi told the US ambassador that opposition parties would boycott the elections as they were being pushed to the wall and hundreds of political activists and lawyers were still languishing in jails.

Appreciating the US’ role in the release of political activists, Hashmi said fair elections were not possible under Musharraf’s rule.

The state of emergency and the restrictions on the media were clear evidence of the elections being rigged, Online reported Hashmi as saying.

“I have conveyed to the US ambassador that fair elections are not possible under President Musharraf,” Hashmi told reporters after the meeting.