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Al-Qaeda's Pakistan Plan: Public Faces, Private Ownership

In Al-Qaeda's Progression On Pakistan's Demise, I described the logical progression of events and leaders best suited and most likely to find al-Qaeda arrive at a point of control over Pakistan. Among the cast of characters to be flipped though like discarded cards in a long round of 5-card draw poker, I left out a couple that are worthy of note due to their sizable public images and national recognition within Pakistan.

The first is an obvious omission - Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's nuclear hero and 'Father of the Islamic Bomb.' For all that we may dislike in holding him as the master nuclear proliferator worldwide, he remains a Pakistani hero and a source of national pride.

But also, I am reminded in reading an old Weekly Standard article by James Forsyth and Jai Singh that I have overlooked and undervalued Imran Khan, the greatest Pakistani cricket player ever and still the country's most recognized and lionized sports star, even in athletic retirement.

In the appropriately titled piece, Khan Artist, pay special attention to the name of Imran Khan's political mentor.

After his playing career ended in 1992, Khan entered politics under the tutelage of Lt.-Gen. Hamid Gul, the former Pakistani intelligence chief famous for fueling the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan. (Gul believes that September 11 was a U.S. conspiracy.) Khan, a man who once captained the Oxford University cricket team and was a feature at London's trendiest places, now turned against the culture he had previously enjoyed.

For what it's worth, Hamid Gul does not believe the September 11 attacks were a US conspiracy any more than he believes mangoes grow on the moon. He knows precisely the source of the attacks. He is, after all, a close friend of Usama bin Laden's and a fellow believer. Just as is putting forth a public Pakistani face after gaining control, Gul's conspiracy theories have always been about creating perceived gaps of plausible deniability. It's called Information Warfare.

The two men presented above, for those following along in the analysis of Pakistan, are a pair of significant nationally recognized and revered Pakistanis not in the original analysis. And each provides similar utility to al-Qaeda and their Taliban insurgents: A popular, national public face to put on their intended ownership of the state of Pakistan that would keep bin Laden, Zawahiri and other top leaders off the public stage, affording Pakistani 'ownership' and a useful degree of plausible deniability. Just enough to give pause.

But artificial plausible deniability didn't work after September 11, and it may not work if Pakistan finds itself under new ownership. And the existence of nuclear weapons under this new ownership cannot serve to give pause in reacting, it must serve a decisive urgency. We will not be dealing with a rational or even functional state. Such things and contingencies must be thought out and planed in detail well in advance. Acting on it decisively depends on the Commander in Chief at the time.

Khan & Khan. Add 'em to the short list.