TIMELINE ENTRIES ABOUT ISI DIRECTOR LT.
GEN. MAHMOOD AHMED
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Part 1: 1979 - 2000
Part 2: Jan. 2001 - 9/11
Part 3: Day of 9/11
Part 4: 9/11 - Dec. 2001
Part 5: Jan. 2002 - present
|Day of 9/11
Bush on 9/11
Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, Director of Pakistan's secret service, the ISI, is quite possibly the most taboo suspect of all 9/11 suspects. It was reported in early October 2001 that Mahmood ordered Saeed Sheikh to send $100,000 to hijacker Mohamed Atta. Since then hardly a word has been said about this stunning report, and in fact this once very powerful man appears to have completely disappeared from view.
In December 2002, Senator Bob Graham, head of the Congressional 9/11 inquiry and thus privy to much information still not publicly released, said he was "surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the [9/11] terrorists in the United States. ... It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now." [PBS Newshour, 12/11/02] Is he referring to Pakistan and the role of Mahmood, a man Graham just happened to be discussing bin Laden with in Washington DC as the 9/11 attacks were happening?
If Mahmood had a role in 9/11, this would not only strongly suggest that the rest of the Pakistani government had foreknowledge, but it would also raise curious questions about who else knew, in the US, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Mahmood seems to be involved in a number of important but obscure meetings before, during and after 9/11.
For more on Mahmood's possible connection with the 9/11 hijackers, see the entries about middleman Saeed Sheikh (also in narrative form). See also the section on the ISI generally. It is possible that the story of Mahmood's involvement in 9/11 is only Indian propaganda, but no Western reporter seems curious to find out.
October 12, 1999: General Musharraf becomes leader of Pakistan in a coup. One major reason for the coup is the ISI felt the previous ruler had to go "out of fear that he might buckle to American pressure and reverse Pakistan's policy [of supporting] the Taliban." [New York Times, 12/8/01] Shortly thereafter Musharraf replaces the leader of the ISI, Brig Imtiaz, because of his close ties to the previous leader. Imtiaz is arrested and convicted of "having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income." It comes out that he was keeping tens of millions of dollars earned from heroin smuggling in a Deutschebank account. This is interesting because insider trading just prior to 9/11 will later connect to a branch of Deutschebank recently run by "Buzzy" Krongard, now Executive Director of the CIA (see September 6-10, 2001). [Financial Times (Asian edition), 8/10/01] The new Director of the ISI is Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, a close ally of Musharraf who is instrumental in the success of the coup. [Guardian, 10/9/01] Mahmood will later be fired after suggestions that he helped fund the 9/11 attacks (see October 7, 2001 (B)).
April 4, 2000: ISI Director and "leading Taliban supporter" Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed visits Washington. In a message meant for both Pakistan and the Taliban, US officials tell him that al-Qaeda has killed Americans and "people who support those people will be treated as our enemies." However, no actual action, military or otherwise, is taken against either the Taliban or Pakistan. [Washington Post, 12/19/01]
May 2001 (E): Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a career covert operative and former Navy Seal, travels to India on a publicized tour while CIA Director Tenet makes a quiet visit to Pakistan to meet with President General Musharraf. Armitage has long and deep Pakistani intelligence connections (as well as a role in the Iran-Contra affair). It would be reasonable to assume that while in Islamabad, Tenet, in what was described as "an unusually long meeting," also meets with his Pakistani counterpart, ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see October 7, 2001). A long-time regional expert with extensive CIA ties stated publicly: "The CIA still has close links with the ISI." [SAPRA, 5/22/01, Times of India, 3/7/01] FTW
Summer 2001 (F): An Asia Times article published just prior to 9/11 claims that Crown Prince Abdullah, the defacto ruler of Saudi Arabia (see Late 1995), makes a clandestine visit to Pakistan around this time. After meeting with senior army officials, he visits Afghanistan with ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (see October 7, 2001). They meet Taliban leader Mullah Omar and try to convince him that the US is likely to launch an attack on Afghanistan. They insist bin Laden be sent to Saudi Arabia, where he would be held in custody and not handed over to any third country. If bin Laden were to be tried in Saudi Arabia, Abdullah would help make sure he is acquitted. Mullah Omar apparently rejects the proposal. The article suggests that Abdullah is secretly a supporter of bin Laden and is trying to protect him from harm (see Late 1998 (F)). [Asia Times, 8/22/01] A similar meeting may also take place after 9/11 (see September 19, 2001 (B)).
August 28-30, 2001: Senator Bob Graham (D), Representative Porter Goss (R) and Senator John Kyl (R) travel to Pakistan and meet with President Musharraf. They reportedly discuss various security issues, including the possible extradition of bin Laden. They also meet with Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan. Zaeef apparently tells them that the Taliban want to solve the issue of bin Laden through negotiations with the US. Pakistan says it wants to stay out of the bin Laden issue. All three are meeting with ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed in Washington at the time of the 9/11 attacks (see September 11, 2001 (H)). Mahmood gave $100,000 to hijacker Mohamed Atta (see October 7, 2001). [AFP, 8/28/01, Salon, 9/14/01] Since the ISI was funding the 9/11 hijackers, what else might have been discussed in these meetings?
September 4-11, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed visits Washington for the second time (see April 4, 2000). On September 10, a Pakistani newspaper reports on his trip so far. It says his visit has "triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council" as well as meetings with CIA Director Tenet, unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon, and his "most important meeting" with Mark Grossman, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. The article suggests that "of course, Osama bin Laden" could be the focus of some discussions. Prophetically, the article adds, "What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time [his] predecessor was [in Washington], the domestic [Pakistani] politics turned topsy-turvy within days." [The News, 9/10/01] This is a reference to the Musharraf coup just after a ISI Director's visit (see October 12, 1999). Mahmood is meeting in Washington when the 9/11 attacks begin (see September 11, 2001 (H)), and extends his stay until September 16 (see September 11-16, 2001).
September 11, 2001 (H): At the time of the attacks, ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is at a breakfast meeting at the Capitol with the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senator Bob Graham (D) and Representative Porter Goss (R) (Goss is a 10-year veteran of the CIA's clandestine operations wing). The meeting is said to last at least until the second plane hits the WTC. [Washington Post, 5/18/02] Graham and Goss later co-head the joint House-Senate investigation into the 9/11 attacks, which has made headlines for saying there was no "smoking gun" of Bush knowledge before 9/11. [Washington Post, 7/11/02] Note Senator Graham should have been aware of a report made to his staff the previous month that one of Mahmood's subordinates had told a US undercover agent that the WTC would be destroyed (see Early August 2001). Evidence suggests Mahmood ordered that $100,000 be sent to hijacker Mohamed Atta (see Early August 2001 (D)). Also present at the meeting were Senator John Kyl (R) and the Pakistani ambassador to the US, Maleeha Lodhi (all or virtually all of the people in this meeting also met in Pakistan a few weeks earlier (see August 28-30, 2001)). Senator Graham says of the meeting: "We were talking about terrorism, specifically terrorism generated from Afghanistan." The New York Times mentions bin Laden specifically was being discussed. [Vero Beach Press Journal, 9/12/01, Salon, 9/14/01, New York Times, 6/3/02] The fact that these people are meeting at the time of the attacks is a strange coincidence at the very least. Was the topic of conversation just more coincidence? FTW
September 11-16, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, extending his Washington visit because of the 9/11 attacks (see September 4-11, 2001 and September 11, 2001 (H)) [Japan Economic Newswire, 9/17/01], meets with US officials and negotiates Pakistan's cooperation with the US against al-Qaeda. It is rumored that later in the day on 9/11 and again the next day, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visits Mahmood and offers him the choice: "Help us and breathe in the 21st century along with the international community or be prepared to live in the Stone Age." [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/12, LA Weekly, 11/9/01] Secretary of State Powell presents Mahmood seven demands as an ultimatum and Pakistan supposedly agrees to all seven. [Washington Post, 1/29/02] Mahmood also has meetings with Senator Joseph Biden (D), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Secretary of State Powell, regarding Pakistan's position. [Miami Herald, 9/16/01, New York Times, 9/13/01, Reuters, 9/13/01, Associated Press, 9/13/01] On September 13, the airport in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is shut down for the day. A government official later says the airport had been closed because of threats made against Pakistans "strategic assets," but doesn't elaborate. The next day, Pakistan declares "unstinting" support for the US, and the airport is reopened. It is later suggested that Israel and India threatened to attack Pakistan and take control of its nuclear weapons if Pakistan didn't side with the US (see also September 14, 2001 (approx.)). [LA Weekly, 11/9/01] Was war with Pakistan narrowly averted? It is later reported that Mahmood's presence in Washington was a lucky blessing; one Western diplomat saying it "must have helped in a crisis situation when the US was clearly very, very angry." [Financial Times, 9/18/01] Was it luck he was there, or did Mahmood - later reported to have ordered $100,000 wired to the 9/11 hijackers (see Early August 2001 (D) and October 7, 2001) - know when the 9/11 attack would happen?
September 14, 2001 (approx.): According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, a few days after 9/11 members of the elite Israeli counter-terrorism unit Sayeret Matkal arrive in the US and begin training with US Special Forces in a secret location. The two groups are developing contingency plans to attack Pakistan's military bases and remove its nuclear weapons if the Pakistani government or the nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands. [New Yorker, 10/29/01] There may have been threats to enact this plan on September 13, 2001 (see September 11-16, 2001). The Japan Times later notes that this "threat to divest Pakistan of its 'crown jewels' was cleverly used by the US, first to force Musharraf to support its military campaign in Afghanistan, and then to warn would-be coup plotters against Musharraf." [Japan Times, 11/10/01] Note the curious connection between Sayeret Matkal and one of the 9/11 passengers on Flight 11 (see September 11, 2001 (X)).
Mid-September 2001: The Guardian later claims that Pakistani President Musharraf has a meeting of his 12 or 13 most senior officers. Musharraf proposes to support the US in the imminent war against the Taliban and bin Laden. Supposedly, four of his most senior generals oppose him outright in "a stunning display of disloyalty." The four are ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed, Lt. Gen. Muzaffar Usmani, Lt. Gen. Jamshaid Gulzar Kiani, and Lt. Gen. Mohammad Aziz Khan. All four are removed from power over the next month (see October 7, 2001). If this meeting took place, it's hard to see when it could have happened, since the article states it happened "within days" of 9/11, but Mahmood was in the US until late September 16 (see September 11-16, 2001), then flew to Afghanistan for two days (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001), then possibly to Saudi Arabia (see September 19, 2001 (B)). [Guardian, 5/25/02] Why would Musharraf send Mahmood on important diplomatic missions even late in the month if he is so disloyal?
September 17-18 and 28, 2001: On September 17, ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed heads a six-man delegation that visits Mullah Omar in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It is reported he is trying to convince Omar to extradite bin Laden or face an immediate US attack. [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01, Financial Times, 9/18/01, London Times, 9/18/01] Also in the delegation is Lt. Gen. Mohammad Aziz Khan, an ex-ISI official who appears to be one of Saeed Sheikh's contacts in the ISI (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001). [Press Trust of India, 9/17/01] On September 28, Ahmed returns to Afghanistan with a group of about 10 religious leaders. He talks with Mullah Omar, who again says he will not hand over bin Laden. [AFP, 9/28/01] A senior Taliban official later claims that on these trips Mahmood in fact urges Omar not to extradite bin Laden, but instead urges him to resist the US. [AP, 2/21/02, Time, 5/6/02] Another account claims Mahmood does "nothing as the visitors [pour] praise on Omar and [fails] to raise the issue" of bin Laden's extradition. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Two Pakistani brigadier generals connected to the ISI also accompany Mahmood, and advise al-Qaeda to counter the coming US attack on Afghanistan by resorting to mountain guerrilla war. The advice is not followed. [Asia Times, 9/11/02] Other ISI officers also stay in Afghanistan to advise the Taliban (see Late September-November 2001).
September 19, 2001 (B): According to the private intelligence service Intelligence Online, a secret meeting between fundamentalist supporters in Saudi Arabia and the ISI takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on this day. Crown Prince Abdullah, the defacto ruler of Saudi Arabia (see Late 1995), and Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, the new head of Saudi intelligence (see August 31, 2001), meet with Gen. Mohamed Youssef, head of the ISI's Afghanistan Section, and ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (just returning from discussions in Afghanistan (see September 17-18 and 28, 2001)). They agree "to the principle of trying to neutralize Osama Bin Laden in order to spare the Taliban regime and allow it to keep its hold on Afghanistan." There has been no confirmation that this meeting in fact took place, but if it did, its goals were unsuccessful. [Intelligence Online, 10/4/01] There may have been a similar meeting before 9/11 (see Summer 2001 (F)).
Late September-November 2001: The ISI secretly assists the Taliban in their defense against a US-led attack. Between three and five ISI officers give military advice to the Taliban in late September (see also September 17-18 and 28, 2001). [Telegraph, 10/10/01] At least five key ISI operatives help the Taliban prepare defenses in Kandahar. None are later punished for this. [Time, 5/6/02] Secret advisors begin to withdraw in early October, but some stay on into November. [Knight Ridder, 11/3/01] Large convoys of rifles, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers for Taliban fighters cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan on October 8 and 12, just after US bombing of Afghanistan begins (see October 7, 2001 (B)) and after a supposed crackdown on ISI fundamentalists (see October 7, 2001). The Pakistani ISI secretly gives safe passage to these convoys, despite having promised the US in September that such assistance would immediately stop. [New York Times, 12/8/01] Secret ISI convoys of weapons and nonlethal supplies continue into November. [UPI, 11/1/01, Time, 5/6/02] An anonymous Western diplomat later states, "We did not fully understand the significance of Pakistan's role in propping up the Taliban until their guys withdrew and things went to hell fast for the Talibs." [New York Times, 12/8/01]
October 7, 2001: ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed is replaced in the face of US pressure after links are discovered between him, Saeed Sheikh and the funding of the 9/11 attacks. Mahmood instructed Saeed to transfer $100,000 into hijacker Mohamed Atta's bank account prior to 9/11 (see Early August 2001 (D) or June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000; it hasn't been reported which $100,000 money transfer this refers to). This is according to Indian intelligence, which claims the FBI has privately confirmed the story. [Press Trust of India, 10/8/01, Times of India, 10/9/01, India Today, 10/15/01, Daily Excelsior, 10/18/01] The story is not widely reported in Western countries, though it makes the Wall Street Journal. [Australian, 10/10/01, AFP, 10/10/01, Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01] It is reported in Pakistan as well. [Dawn, 10/8/01] The Northern Alliance also repeats the claim in late October. [FNS, 10/31/01] In Western countries, the usual explanation is that Mahmood is fired for being too close to the Taliban. [London Times, 10/9/01, Guardian, 10/9/01] The Times of India reports that Indian intelligence helped the FBI discover the link, and says: "A direct link between the ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions. The US cannot but suspect whether or not there were other senior Pakistani Army commanders who were in the know of things. Evidence of a larger conspiracy could shake US confidence in Pakistan's ability to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition." [Times of India, 10/9/01] There is evidence some ISI officers may have known of a plan to destroy the WTC as early as mid-1999 (see July 14, 1999). Two other ISI leaders, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Aziz Khan and Chief of General Staff Mohammed Yousuf, are sidelined on the same day as Mahmood. [Fox News, 10/8/01] Saeed had been working under Khan (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001). The firings are said to have purged the ISI of its fundamentalists. But according to one diplomat: "To remove the top two or three doesn't matter at all. The philosophy remains... [The ISI is] a parallel government of its own. If you go through the officer list, almost all of the ISI regulars would say, of the Taliban, 'They are my boys.'" [New Yorker, 10/29/01] It is believed Mahmood has been living under virtual house arrest in Pakistan ever since (which would seem to imply more than just a difference of opinion over the Taliban), but no charges have been brought against him, and there is no evidence the US has asked to question him. [Asia Times, 1/5/02] He also has refused to speak to reporters since being fired [AP, 2/21/02], and outside India and Pakistan, the story has only been mentioned a couple times in the media since (see [Sunday Herald, 2/24/02, London Times, 4/21/02]). If Mahmood helped fund the 9/11 attacks, what did President Musharraf know about it?
January 18, 2003: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf warns of an "impending danger" that Pakistan will become a target of war for "Western forces" after the Iraq crisis. "We will have to work on our own to stave off the danger. Nobody will come to our rescue, not even the Islamic world. We will have to depend on our muscle." [Press Trust of India, 1/19/03, Financial Times, 2/8/03] Pointing to "a number of recent 'background briefings' and 'leaks'" from the US government, "Pakistani officials fear the Bush administration is planning to change its tune dramatically once the war against Iraq is out of the way." [Financial Times, 2/8/03] Despite evidence that the head of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, ordered money given to the hijackers (see October 7, 2001), so far only one partisan newspaper has suggested Pakistan was involved in 9/11. [WorldNetDaily, 1/3/02] But could Musharraf be worried about evidence suggesting involvement of the ISI in the 9/11 attacks?