What did Musharraf know?

His memoirs, written while he was still military president of Pakistan, are a fascinating source of

How much did Pervez Musharraf and his then head of intelligence (from 2004-2007), Ashfaq Kayani, now head of the army, really know? Musharraf's 2006 memoir, In the Line of Fire, suggests they may have had more than an inkling that Abbottabad was something of an al-Qaeda hotbed.

As president of Pakistan, Musharraf describes how the army was pursuing Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the alias of Mustafa Muhammad, who, after the death of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had stepped into his role as number three in al-Qaeda. Musharraf held Libbi responsible for attempts on his life while he was president of Pakistan.

He writes that they narrowly missed Libbi in April 2004.

The second miss was again in Abbotabad [sic]. We were tipped off that someone important in al-Qaeda was living in a house there, and that someone else, also very important, someone we were looking for, was supposed to come and meet him. We did not know that the second someone was Abu Faraj al-Libbi, but we had enough information to attempt an interception. Our team members stationed themselves around the house in Abbotabad. When the expected visitor turned up, the person in the house came out to meet him. But as he approached, the visitor acted suspicious and tried to run away. There was an exchange of fire, and he was killed. The visitor was not Libbi. Later, when we arrested Libbi and interrogated him, we discovered his pattern: he would always send someone ahead as a decoy while he imself stayed behind to observe. He was undoubtedly watching his decoy perform the fatal pantomime of the day. (pg 258)

Musharraf narrates how they finally got Libbi in Mardan in May 2005, at a shrine.

Christina Lamb, writing in the Sunday Times on 8 May (yesterday), has more details. "Bin Laden is supposed to have been living in the house in Abbottabad since 2005-2006 when General Nadeen Taj was commandant of the military academcy. Taj (who went on to succeed Ashfaq Kayani as head of the ISI in 2007) was a close confidant of Musharraf. He was on the plane with him that was refused entry into Pakistan airspace in 1999, provoking the military coup in which Musharraf seized power."

She continues that Taj allowed a number of radical ideologues associated with jihadist groups to use Abbottabad as a transit hub, including Hafiz Saeed, head of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the organisation behind the bombings of Mumbai in 2008.

Christina Lamb's 1991 portrait of political Pakistan (Waiting for Allah) traces an ISI history that stretches back to 1972 in Afghanistan, as the organisation backed Daoud in a coup against the king Zahir Shah to begin the formation of a fundamentalist client state. After the Soviet invasion in 1979, Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI, tried in the 1980s to get the fundamentalist (Engineer) Hekmatyar to dominate the Alliance and drive out the moderates.

There are still internet rumours that the then US ambassador, Arnie Raphael, who went down in Zia's plane when it crashed in August 1988, apparently favoured the hardline Gul to take over from Zia. In fact, it was General Beg who survived the wipe-out of military top brass and brought on elections.

Old military habits perhaps die hard. In his 2006 memoir, Musharraf refers disdainfully to "the dreadful decade of democracy" that began in 1988.

And on page page 221 the former president remarks, perhaps referring to the fact that elements in the national army were genuinely and in all innocence looking for Bin Laden: "I have said, half-jokingly, that I hope he is not caught in Pakistan, by Pakistan's troops."

Catriona Luke is a freelance writer and editor.

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Appreciate the full horror of Nigel Farage's pro-Trump speech

The former Ukip leader has appeared at a Donald Trump rally. It went exactly as you would expect.

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce Nigel Farage is at it again.

The on-again, off-again Ukip leader and current Member of the European Parliament has appeared at a Donald Trump rally to lend his support to the presidential candidate.

It was, predictably, distressing.

Farage started by telling his American audience why they, like he, should be positive.

"I come to you from the United Kingdom"

Okay, good start. Undeniably true.

"– with a message of hope –

Again, probably quite true.

Image: Clearly hopeful (Wikipedia Screenshot)

– and optimism.”

Ah.

Image: Nigel Farage in front of a poster showing immigrants who are definitely not European (Getty)

He continues: “If the little people, if the real people–”

Wait, what?

Why is Trump nodding sagely at this?

The little people?

Image: It's a plane with the name Trump on it (Wikimedia Commons)

THE LITTLE PEOPLE?

Image: It's the word Trump on the side of a skyscraper I can't cope with this (Pixel)

THE ONLY LITTLE PERSON CLOSE TO TRUMP IS RIDING A MASSIVE STUFFED LION

Image: I don't even know what to tell you. It's Trump and his wife and a child riding a stuffed lion. 

IN A PENTHOUSE

A PENTHOUSE WHICH LOOKS LIKE LIBERACE WAS LET LOOSE WITH THE GILT ON DAY FIVE OF A PARTICULARLY BAD BENDER

Image: So much gold. Just gold, everywhere.

HIS WIFE HAS SO MANY BAGS SHE HAS TO EMPLOY A BAG MAN TO CARRY THEM

Image: I did not even know there were so many styles of Louis Vuitton, and my dentists has a lot of old copies of Vogue.

Anyway. Back to Farage, who is telling the little people that they can win "against the forces of global corporatism".

 

Image: Aaaaarggghhhh (Wikipedia Screenshot)

Ugh. Okay. What next? Oh god, he's telling them they can have a Brexit moment.

“... you can beat Washington...”

“... if enough decent people...”

“...are prepared to stand up against the establishment”

Image: A screenshot from Donald Trump's Wikipedia page.

I think I need a lie down.

Watch the full clip here:

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland