Excerpts From "A Mighty Heart"

(Gold9472: I highly recommend everyone buy this book. It seems to be very good.)

Transcribed by me.

Pages 27 - 30
Khawaja is a fascinating but dubious character, one of those people who seems to know everybody, at least in militant Islamist circles. A former Pakistani intelligence agent and air force officer, Khawaja loves nothing more than to entertain journalists, especially Americans. He loves to watch their faces when he tells them he is friend of Osama bin Laden. Danny and I have interviewed Khawaja several times, as has Asra, and found him to be, in Danny's blunt terms, "Nice guy, but a bit of a psycho."

Danny and I met with him in Islamabad shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and more recently in early January, in an office he uses in a relatively empty house in a gated district apparently reserved for military. Asra visited him at his real home in September, when she was staying at her paternal aunt's house. "You might want to interview our neighbor," her aunt had said helpfully. "He's a religious man, a friend of bin Laden's and the Taliban. He fought with the Afghan resistance." And so, escorted by her aunt and uncle, Asra paid a call to Khalid Khawaja, and the three of them sat and listened politely as he ranted and raved about the righteousness of the Muslim jihad against America.

Asra would watch him every morning as, after prayers, he headed down the street, hands clasped behind his back, for a daily stroll around the little local park. One day she joined him, and as they walked, he described how he, along with the influential Pakistani-American businessman Mansur Ejaz and former CIA chief James Woolsey, had tried to hammer out an agreement that would have averted war between the United States and the Taliban. The effort failed.

Khawaja spun a similar story to Danny and me, and while we were never able to nail down all the facts, we were inclined to believe a part. But much of what Khawaja told us was total and ugly fabrication:

"You know who was behind the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?" Khawaja asked us in September. "The Jews did it, the Mossad, it can only be them."

That was not the first time we'd been exposed to "the Jew theory." We'd heard it the day before from Hamid Gul. The director of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistani Intelligence, from 1987 to 1989, Gul is considered the architect of the Afghan jihad, the man who masterminded the war financed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and waged by the mujahideens against the Soviet occupiers. A decade ago, Gul was the most powerful man in the region; some called him the "godfather of the Taliban." But power, like an unfaithful mistress, had left him without turning back. New alliances had been formed, and Hamid Gul wasn't part of them.

I could feel the bitterness behind his assured diatribe. Gul manifested the same fanatical exaltation we saw in Khawaja, and in so many others we met in the days after September 11. It was a craving for revenge that had been unsatisfied for too long. It was a dominating and burning desire.

After an hour-long monologue during which Gul insisted that Osama bin Laden couldn't have had anything to do with the attacks, he had leaned in toward us conspiratorially. "Do you know," he said, "that the four thousand Jews who normally worked at the World Trade Center were all absent that day?"

To the day I die, I will love the cool with which Danny responded. "Really?" he said, without any perceptible trace of irony.

The "theory" was that the perpetrators had secretly notified all the Jewish workers in the Twin Towers so they would fail to show up for work and hereby be spared the terrible fate. The allegations apparently originated on Al Manar, the TV channel of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamist party, not long after 9/11. Once the ugly rumor hit the Internet, it found dedicated converts throughout the fundamentalist world.

In an article Danny filed just ten days after the attacks, he wrote, "A theory that Jews or Israelis engineered the September 11 attacks on the United States is gaining credibility among Muslim intellectuals, in a disturbing sign of how little globalization has bridged gaps in perception."

In Pakistan, Danny reported, pilots, scientists, and experts had gathered for analysis, and they had all concluded that the attacks could not have succeeded without the help of American intelligence services or the Israelis. "Pakistani air force officers casually opine that 'Mossad is the only one that could do it.' Respected newspapers in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates run news items suggesting authorities suspect some Israelis of involvement in the attack... One Pakistani commentator told the BBC Friday that America's belligerent attitude 'gives credence' to conspiracy theories spreading on the Internet."

Here is the same old hatred, the kind that makes you wonder if humanity will ever draw the lessons of its own history. Still, Danny and I refuse to let it defeat us in our work as journalists. We see ourselves as tightrope walkers, careful and insistent in our quest to bridge the world. In his work, Danny struggles to keep free of dogma and allegiance. It's not easy to remain impartial, but it sharpens Danny's vision and independence. He doesn't represent a country or a flag, just the pursuit of truth. He is here to hold up a mirror and force people to look at themselves. What better way is there to respect humanity?

The Wall Street Journal never ran Danny's article on the Jewish conspiracy. Danny emailed his boss, "The story didn't run today and isn't on the Sked 1. Please tell me this is because it got overlooked somehow, or there wasn't any space, and not because people are scared to tell our readers what people here are really thinking!"

He was more emphatic in a message to a friend: "Pisses me off that we're ready to pick apart the Eastern psyche to no end, except if it might offend our Jewish readers... Maybe I'm just paranoid," he concluded, "or engaging in my own Jewish-conspiracy theory."

Who knows what theory Khalid Khawaja was preparing to concoct when, in the course of lecturing during our meeting, he suddenly sprang a tangential question. "What are you?" he asked Danny. "A Christian?"

Without a moments hesitation, Danny answered, "I'm Jewish."

The answer startled Khawaja. "Are you?"

We were prepared for the question, if not this day, then some other. Whenever you travel, and especially in less developed countries, people try to categorize you, neatly, swiftly. Whose side are you on? Or, more pertinently, Are you my enemy? Am I yours? In our case, this has always been an irrelevant question with only one answer: We have come here as journalists.


Page 31
Around midnight a car pulls up on the street. Asra and I run onto the white-speckled veranda, praying we'll hear that too-loud doorbell. We don't.

If Danny isn't back by two A.M., we will call the authorities.

But which? Corruption is endemic among the Pakistani police; that's a story Danny and I have been researching for months. In fact, it's possible that calling the police is precisely the wrong thing to do now. Can we call Pakistani intelligence? ISI, Inter-Services-Intelligence--the role of the agency is so murky, frightening. We've heard it called "a kingdom within a state"; we know that little happens in this country without ISI knowing about it. But what if they're involved? (Gold9472: This is pertaining to Danny's kidnapping, not 9/11) Should we call the U.S. consulate first?


Pages 183 - 184
It's become clear that Omar doesn't know where Danny is. That's never been his role. He was the lure; others are the captors. Who's in that group? Omar has served up the name of a go-between, the man who's had contact both with Omar's cell and the kidnapping team. That's a start. But who is overseeing it all? Who pulls all the strings?

I think about things like this: Who told Omar that Danny is Jewish? Who had that information to give?

Information flies out of the Internet. I am amazed to find how much is circulating out there about Omar and his apparent links to both Al Qaeda and the ISI. I read that the U.S. embassy in Islamabad asked the Pakistani government to hand over Omar on January 21--two days before Danny was kidnapped. The reason given for the U.S. request was that the 1994 kidnapping included an American citizen. But it seems clear to me that the U.S. authorities wanted to follow up on a much more disturbing trail. I read a news report from October that claimed the FBI had found "credible links" between Omar Saeed Sheikh and then director of the ISI Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed. It was alleged that it was Ahmed who instructed Omar to wire the $100,000 to Mohammad Atta.

I read too that disclosure of this finding led to Ahmed's dismissal as the head of the ISI by President Musharraf on October 7, 2001.

So it appears Omar may have been associated with both the head of ISI and Al Qaeda.
He surrendered to another former ISI officer who held him in custody for a week until just one day before Musharraf met with President Bush. Just in time for Musharraf to go before Bush and the American press and, pointing to the "arrest" of Omar Sheikh, declare, "We are as close as possible to getting [Danny] released."

Questions bounce back and forth in my brain like a Ping-Pong ball gone wild. The distinctions between good and bad, government organizations and terrorist organizations, are not simply fading; they seem to be faces of the same coin.

Did Musharraf know Omar was in custody? Could he not know?

The CIA (God only knows what their position is here) didn't know? Which of Omar's ex-ISI friends are involved and to what degree? What about Brigadier Abdullah, responsible for the Kashmir Cell of ISI before his dismissal by Musharraf during the recent purges of the organization. Is he involved, too? Does he work for Osama bin Laden? What was Omar promised in exchange for his arrest?

Mariane Pearl is an award winning documentary film director who produced and hosted a daily radio show for Radio France International and has written for Telerama.