'Pakistan had no hint of 9/11 attacks'

July 24, 2004


WASHINGTON, July 23: Pakistan on Friday denied a report claiming that its intelligence officers knew in advance of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks.

The report by Arnaud de Borchgrave, a journalist awarded by the Zia regime for his reporting on the Afghan war, also claimed that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was treated at a military hospital in Peshawar.

A spokesman for the Pakistan embassy here denied that Osama had ever been treated "in any military hospital anywhere in Pakistan". "Reports based on unnamed intelligence sources are usually a figment of the writer's imagination," said Pakistan's deputy chief of mission, Mohammed Sadiq.

Asked to comment on the claim that Pakistan was aware of the Sept 11 attacks before they occurred, Mr Sadiq said: "This is basically the recycling of old charges. We have been working very closely with the United States administration and it is important to note that the US administration also has always rejected these charges as false.

No one seems to know these imaginary intelligence sources." Mr de Borchgrave, however, claimed that on the eve of the publication of its report, the 9/11 commission received a document from Pakistan showing that Pakistani intelligence officers knew in advance of the attacks.

The document showed that Osama had been receiving periodic dialysis treatment in a military hospital in Peshawar, he claimed. The document, according to the report, claimed that Pakistani intelligence had been actively facilitating the relocation of Al Qaeda from Afghanistan to Pakistan and that some serving and retired intelligence officers were still helping the network.

Such officers, the report said, had provided money and directions to militant groups, specially the Arab hijackers of 9/11 from Al Qaeda. The document, apparently, failed to impress the authors of the commission's report, who urged the US government to make a long-term commitment to Pakistan to ensure that it remained committed to the fight against terrorism.