Osama has four look-alikes

By Amir Taheri, Arab News Corespondent
Publication Date: 
Sun, 2001-10-07 03:00

LONDON, 7 October — Ahmad Wali Masood, younger brother of Ahmad Shah Masood, the Afghan liberation and resistance leader, who was assassinated on Sept. 9 by two men allegedly working for Osama Bin Laden, said here yesterday that a few months ago his supporters had reports of “four Osama look-alikes in four different locations at the same time.” Ahmad Wali is also his country’s charge d’affaires in London and a major figure in the Northern Alliance, the key component of the “Loya Jirgah” (high assembly) that is taking over the government of Afghanistan.

In an exclusive interview, Ahmad Wali briefed Arab News about the latest developments in his homeland and the circumstances of his brother’s tragic death.

When asked about the whereabouts of Bin Laden, Masood said, “The latest report we had a few days ago locates him in Jalalabad. But we know that he has several ‘dummies,’ individuals who look like him and travel in Toyota convoys like him to foment confusion.” “At one point a few months ago we had reports of four Osama look-alikes in four different locations at the same time. Don’t forget that Osama has expected assassination or capture since 1994,” Masood said.

Further excerpts:

Q: Do you expect the United States and its allies to launch military operations in Afghanistan soon?

Ahmad Wali Masood: Yes. There is now no way to avoid military action. This might have been possible had the Taleban agreed to cooperate in arresting Osama (Bin Laden).

Q: Why did the Taleban risk their survival simply to protect Bin Laden?

Masood: One reason is that Bin Laden is the real leader of the Taleban. Since 1998 he has strengthened his hold on the Taleban’s security apparatus and finances.

Q: Where is Bin Laden?

Masood: The latest report we had a few days ago locates him in Jalalabad. But we know that he has several “dummies”, individuals who look like him and travel in Toyota convoys like him to foment confusion. At one point a few months ago we had reports of four Osama look-alikes in four different locations at the same time. Don’t forget that Osama has expected assassination or capture since 1994 that is to say after his men first attacked the WTC in New York.

Q: Did the Americans seek your movement’s help in tracking down Bin Laden?

Masood: We had no formal contact with the Americans until after the Sept. 11 tragedies. Before that some soundings out were made, but never in any serious manner. Until then Washington was still listening to the Pakistanis who supported the Taleban and who portrayed us as allies of Russia and Iran and thus unacceptable to the US. What the Americans did not realize was that Taleban and Bin Laden were one and the same and that Pakistan was leading them into a dangerous trap.

Q: What about now? Any contacts with the US?

Masood: Yes. But we have not received any arms or financial support from the Americans. Don’t forget that we still represent the only legal authority in Afghanistan, recognized by all countries except Pakistan. It is natural that the Americans should contact us with regard to what they intend to do in our country.

Q: Do you welcome US intervention?

Masood: Insofar as it may lead to an end to Pakistan’s support for the Taleban, the answer is yes. We also welcome any American action to destroy the Taleban’s heavy weapons, almost all of which come from Pakistan. That could create a level playing field, so to speak. Without Pakistani backing for the Taleban, the Afghan people can defeat ands drive them out of the country. But this does not mean that we want the Americans to establish bases in our country or seek a permanent presence. Once the police operation against the terrorists is completed the US and its allies should throw their support behind a legitimate government of Afghanistan and help it rebuild the nation.

Q: Does such a government exist?

Masood: It does. As you know the United Islamic Front of Afghanistan (Northern Alliance) has reached agreement with the ex-king Muhammad Zahir Shah to form a “Loya Jirgah”(Supreme Assembly) of 120 people.

Q: Should you not secure greater Pushtun support besides the ex-king?

Masood: To start with the Tajiks, the Uzbeks and the Hazara, taken together represent two-thirds of our people. But our movement includes virtually all of the prominent Pushtun Mujahedeen leaders. There is Professor Abul-Rabb Sayyaf along with Commandant Hazrat Ali of Kunar, Commandant Muhammad Aref of Leghman and Commandant Ghulam Muhammad of Kandahar.

Q: But Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has just established contact with Zahir Shah in what looks like a move to recognize the “Loya Jirgah”

Masood: We have to wait and see. What we know is that several prominent Pakistani civilian and military personalities are actively working on what they call a “ third way” that is to say neither Taleban nor the new “Loya Jirgah”.

Who for example?

Masood: People like former President Farouk Leghari, and retired generals Hamid Gul and Aslam Beg, former military intelligence chiefs. They have important personal interests in perpetuating Pakistan’s domination of Afghanistan. But their public argument is that Pakistan needs Afghanistan as its hinterland against India and as a link to Central Asia.

Q: Do they have any chance of success?

Masood: A few professional traitors work with them. But we already have the Taleban experience. The Taleban represent the biggest foreign policy enterprise undertaken by Pakistan in its entire history. Look how that is ending! Only fools would not learn from history and repeat the same mistakes.

Q: Was there an element of treason in Ahmad Shah Masood’s assassination? I ask this because I find it hard that two unknowns could come so close to him, especially after they had spent weeks in the Taleban controlled areas?

Masood: Our investigation has not shown any sign of treason. But there certainly was carelessness. We didn’t follow the elementary principle that anyone who has spent some time in an enemy controlled territory is suspect. Nor did we take notice of the visas given to the two killers by the Taleban. Nor did we pay attention to their letter of introduction, which came from an Egyptian associate of Bin Laden who lives in London. The Egyptian now says he knew nothing of the letter that he claims was a forgery. But it would have been enough for us to see his name and his letterhead to become alarmed. The two sneaked toward Ahmad Shah step by step. They first went to the area controlled by our ally Sayyaf. They then interviewed President Burhanuddin Rabbani and other leaders. They made no suspicious moves, although they could have killed Sayyaf or Rabbani. It was clear that they had one task: to kill Ahmad Shah. They spent three weeks in areas we control. Nobody noticed that the two who carried Belgian passports but were of Moroccan origin, were doing no journalistic work. They talked to no one and filmed no one, although they were supposed to be making a documentary for a non-existent Arab television. Sadly, our security people did not pay enough attention.

Main category: 
Old Categories: