November 15, 2005

Developing: Omar al-Faruq was to spy on al Qaeda

Reposted: I expect something to break eventually.

Bagram Escapees?
Not Breaking News: al Qaeda big shot and international terror operative Omar Al-Faruq (al-Farouk, al-Farouq, al-Farook, al-Faruk, Aw-Fook and sometimes Mahmoud bin Ahmad Assegaf) escaped from US custody in Afghanistan last July and has been at large and making threats ever since. This nasty cat has been turned. Al-Faruq has most certainly been recruited by the US to penetrate al Qaeda and betray the top echelon of global Islamic terrorism. Why he turned is unimportant. The real question is: why was his cover here in the West so casually yanked? Why now? I smell a double-cross.
Update: Tad Brennan posts Escape or Evasion? at TPM Cafe. Tad's speculations miss the mark. He suspects US CIA spooks killed poor Omar. His agenda of blaming Bush administration policies for everything clouds his vision. The old feeder just wants to see Omar snuffed, and he doesn't care who does it.

Meanwhile, the alleged escapees have been seen mugging it on Arab TV recently. From the Pakistan Times:
The four escapees boasted about their breakout on a video broadcast Oct. 18 on Dubai-based television station Al-Arabiya, according to two editors at the station, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
Radio Free Afghanistan has only this terse story. Nobody wants to"out" Omar for the duplicitous, double-crossing traitor that he is, because both sides want to believe he still belongs to them. The civil-service CIA is just no good at the humint business these days. It is as if the Post Office had set up a spy network.

Update: Outside the Beltway's James Joyner smells something fishy as well, saying, "This looks very, very bad on a whole number of levels. Either the U.S. military is unable to guard top al Qaeda lieutenants (although, granted, there seem to have been hundreds of them) or it is willing to allow them to escape to avoid testifying against accused abusers." So it is a cover up of something. Joyner has more blame: "not only do we let this clown escape but we don't let our ally, who turned him over to us in the first place, know about it so that they can prepare for his return and/or help recapture him? Amazing." We are not amazed.

Update: More "escape" fallout - The Indonesians aren't going to be handing captured terrorists over to the US again any time soon. (Kompas Online - Jakarta)

Background: From a Sept. 18, 2002 U.S. Newswire report quoted on a discussion board (Suite101 by 'Jen') "Officials in Kuwait's Ministry of Interior have stated that alleged Al-Qaeda terrorist Omar Al-Faruq is not a Kuwaiti citizen, despite media reports describing him as such..." Jen added: "and then to add more confusion al-Faruq's wife, Mira, is quoted in the Indonesian media saying that al-Faruq's an Indonesian."

UnSaid Theory: UnSaid thinks Omar didn't escape, but was tagged and released. "Might not be a bad idea to let him get away and have a tracker stick on him", UnSaid suggests. Like a chip implanted in his body? RFID tags? The old feeder thinks the odds that Omar is dead are getting better with every day that passes without an Omar sighting or verifiable new video.

Update: Guerrilla News Network also considers that al-Faruq is working for the CIA.

Update: Yet another mess of speculation, (e.g.: "According to one fugitive Taliban commander interviewed by a NEWSWEEK reporter last week, the four men were actually exchanged in secret for captured U.S. special-operations troops.") sprinkled with a few details , is found in Newsweek, via MSNBC.

More links and analysis: At Bliss Street Journal, the Unfrozen Caveman Linguist looks at the Great Escape from a different perspective.

Update: From Antara, the Indonesian News agency, comes this story datelined Jakarta and citing the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies
Umar Al Farouk who escaped from the US heavily guarded detention center in Afghanistan could be a foreign intellegence agent planted in al Qaidah network for Souetheast Asia, an observer said.

Suripto, founder of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (Laspersi), made the remarks here on Tuesday to respond to reports on the Al Farouk`s escape and its implications on Indonesian security.

According to him, Al Farouk`s escape has strengthened his prediction and suspicion that the mysterious figure is an agent backed by the CIA.

"Only a person backed by a well-managed organization could escape the heavily guarded prison," Suripto, who is also member of the House of Representatives` Cmomission I on foreign and security affairs, said.

"It is not easy to be able to slip out of the prison. Of course, there is a well managed organization which has detailed information on the prison and the person involved in the escape."

Suripto said, he suspected that Al Farouk had received a special task from the controller to cause disturbance in Indonesia and the three months since July when the figure was widely reported to have escaped from the prison was enough to spread terror in regions like Poso and Ambon.
The plot thickens, and Umar/Omar's odds of seeing the New Year get much worse. Who needs this kind of press?

Update: Jakarta Post, has a story implicating a mysterious unnamed terrorist group in Faruq's escape.
Reports of the escape of Omar al-Farouq, a suspected al-Qaeda leader, from a U.S.-run detention facility in Afghanistan have created confusion and suspicion among some Muslim leaders here.

Zaenal Ma'arif, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives who hails from the Islamic-based Star Reform Party (PBR), was baffled as to how al-Farouq, who was captured in Indonesia in 2002 and subsequently handed over to the U.S. authorities, had escaped.

He suspected that "a certain group" with interests in Southeast Asia had arranged for the escape of al-Farouq in a bid to give power to terrorism in the region.

He declined to name the group.

"It is possible that there is a bigger scenario since Osama bin Laden is not that influential anymore," Zaenal said over the weekend, referring to the al-Qaeda terror network leader who remains at large.
If the CIA is behind all this confusion, they have either made a very ugly public mistake or turned rather suddenly effective. The old feeder inclines toward the 'mistake option', but we shall see. Or not.

Update: From China, Indonesian presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal during a discussion of the US embargo, said he was "optimistic there would be a restoration of normal military relations between the two countries." But then Dino remarked on the escape in Afghanistan, saying "the Indonesian mission in Afghanistan had inspected the jail in Baghram from where Farouq had escaped but 'we will explain it later.'" I wonder when 'later' will come and what his explanation will be.

Update: It is possible that the recent anti-terror successes in Indonesia are a consequence of Mr. al-Faruq's complicity with the CIA or are perhaps indicia of other, more obscure forms of al-Faruq's duplicityas may be still developing. My experience is that the Official Media in Jarkarts has absolutely no problem with disseminating lies, so...

Updated 11/15/05: The Indonesians are starting to think there is a secret plot to penetrate the Islamic terrorists' inner circle of leaders, and , lo, they were left out! This originally appeared in the Jakarta Post, but seems to have disappeared. Here is the same story reprinted by adnkronos in italy. Quoted in full here, in case it is also pulled:
akarta, 14 Nov. (AKI/Jakarta Post) - The escape of terrorist suspect Omar al-Farouq from the United States detention may be a ploy to track down most-wanted terror master Osama bin Laden, a former intelligence chief told The Jakarta Post. A.M. Hendropriyono, former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) director said he had strong grounds to suspect a hidden agenda behind the escape of al-Farouq, a Kuwait-born terrorist suspect who Indonesia handed over to the United States in September 2002, one month before the Bali blasts that killed 202 people.

"Following his escape, al-Farouq appeared in an interview with an Arabian TV station brandishing an automatic rifle. It is impossible that a terrorist group would trust and give him a gun after three years in US detention. It is possible that he was prepared by his users to conduct a special mission," Hendropriyono said.

"Second, it is quite strange that Washington remained silent about al-Farouq's escape. It can be assumed that US security authorities were informed of his escape from the prison in July, but until now, President George W. Bush has not explained it, at least not to the American public," he added.

Hendropriyono, who was responsible for al-Farouq's transfer to US custody, said it was very likely that al-Farouq had been brainwashed during his confinement at the Baghram maximum security detention centre in Afghanistan.

"Brainwashing does not take years, it can take just two days," he said.

Hendropriyono said it appeared that al-Farouq's brainwashing had been effective, as al-Farouq was cooperative and provided detailed information when two Indonesian police officer questioned him in Afghanistan following the hand-over. Al-Farouq had led the police to Muslim cleric Abu Bakar al-Bashir, who is serving his 30-month jail term for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali blasts.

He also said it was possible that the US was using al-Farouq to trace terrorist networks in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and locate bin Laden, who is still at large following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

The fact that Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has warned of possible strikes by al-Farouq, indicates that Indonesia was never informed of the apparent US plan, said Hendropriyono.

"But if he returns to Indonesia anyway, BIN and the police know all his contact persons and the accomplices he may look for in Bogor, Poso, Palu, Makassar and Ambon, five towns where he operated between 1999 and 2002," he said.

Asked about the public outrage toward him for handing al-Farouq over to the US three years ago, Hendropriyono said the Indonesian authorities had no legal basis to charge him for terrorism, because the country had not enacted an applicable law.

"BIN arrested him because he was one of the most-wanted persons in connection with the September 11 tragedy, and then deported him for immigration violations and identity card counterfeit. BIN was never instructed by the US. or other countries to arrest him.

"We nabbed him because he was dangerous, and if he had not been arrested, more people might have been killed in bomb attacks," he said.

Al-Farouq was arrested by intelligence agents in the Bogor Grand Mosque after BIN received a video recording showing him leading a bloody attack on a Christian village in Poso, Central Sulawesi.

Hendropriyono said al-Farouq had held five different passports and various fake Indonesian identity cards under different names but did not speak Indonesian.

The former intelligence chief expressed regret that one of al-Farouq's operatives who was later arrested, Seyam Reda, had escaped, and many members of al-Qaeda-related groups were still operating in Poso, where sectarian conflict left 1,000 dead between 2000 and 2001, and where earlier this month, three schoolgirls were beheaded by a masked gang in October and two others were shot dead in a separate incident.

Al-Farouq, Reda and several other al-Qaeda operatives were brought into the country by Parlindungan Siregar in 1999, Hendropriyono said. Parlindungan has been declared a suspect in the Madrid bombing in March last year.

(Aki/Jakarta Post)
The old feeder smells something putrefying under the skin of this 'escape' story. Just when or if this festering pustule will come to a head is still in doubt. I'll keep watching. And maybe squeezing. Pardon my metaphor.

Updated 11/16/05: Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney General, while on a tour of Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and China, today said,
[T]he United States was concerned about the escape of Omar al-Faruq, one of al Qaeda‘s most senior global operatives, from an American military prison in Afghanistan in July.

"Obviously we would have preferred the escape not to have occurred," Gonzales told reporters after meeting Indonesia‘s police chief.
Thats Alberto's story, and he's sticking to it. No matter how it smells.

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