RealNews

Qaeda Operative Is 'Hero' to Some in Pakistan

In a clear sign that the jubilation of Western and Pakistani governments at the capture of a top operative of Al Qaeda is not universally shared, the spokesman for Pakistan’s largest Islamic party said the man, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, should be considered a “hero of Islam.” Mr. Mohammed, arrested Saturday and handed over to the United States for interrogation, has been described in the West as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and other heinous acts of terror. Ameerul Azeem, secretary of information for the influential Jamaat-e-Islami party, strongly disagreed. “All these people who made holy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and now refuse to accept the dictatorship of the United States are heroes of Islam,” he said. In a telephone interview, he said his group opposed the killing of innocents by terrorists. “But we have no reason to believe that Al Qaeda even exists,” he said. “Osama bin Laden is a hero, too, because we have no evidence that he was involved in the World Trade Center attacks.” His comments illustrated the conflicting pressures on Pakistan’s leaders as they try to balance cooperation in the campaign against terrorism with the extremes of domestic politics. Full Story

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