9/11 funds came from Pakistan, says FBI


Aug 2003, 2050 hrs IST,MANOJ JOSHI,TNN

NEW DELHI: India played a key role in providing US authorities the information that funding for the September 11 attacks came from Pakistan. A top FBI counter-terrorism official told the US Senate governmental affairs committee on Thursday that investigators have “traced the origin of the funding of 9/11 back to financial accounts in Pakistan.’’

John S Pistole, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division, however, did not specify how those accounts in Pakistan were funded, or the role of Pakistani elements. The Times of India first reported on October 10, 2001 that India told the US that some $100,000 had been wired to the leader of the hijackers, Mahmud Atta, by British-born terrorist Ahmad Saeed Umar Sheikh.

Indian authorities also told the US that the trail led back from Sheikh to the then chief of ISI, Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmad who was subsequently forced to retire by Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf. The FBI had been provided with the details, including Sheikh’s mobile numbers. But Pistole’s testimony is silent on these issues. The FBI has estimated the September 11 attacks cost between $175,000 and $250,000. That money — which paid for flight training, travel and other expenses — flowed to the hijackers through associates in Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

Those associates reported to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who managed much of the planning for the attacks from Pakistan, US officials have said. The Bush Administration is being cagey about declassifying 28 secret pages in a recent report on the 9/11 incident which officials say outline connections between Saudi charities, royal family members and terrorism.

US authorities are silent about the role some Pakistanis may have played in the conspiracy. The role of Sheikh and Lt Gen Ahmad has yet to see the light of the day. Sheikh, wanted for kidnapping and terrorist conspiracy in India, has since been sentenced to death in Pakistan for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.