“Do I see things more clearly than at the very beginning of my investigation, when things seemed simpler–an American Jew, Muslim extremists, a video playing in a loop in the militant shock mosques?
“Sometimes I think yes. I hang on to my conclusions. I remind myself it’s not every day you find a killer who is both in the upper ranks of al-Qaida and the agent of the ISI.”
Bernard Henri-Lévy, 2003
“If you look at a photograph and think you have seen it, look again.”
Odl NASA Observation Group Slogan
“Part of the perversity of evil is that, the greater its depravity, the greater is our temptation to avert our eyes from it, to look away, to convince ourselves that we cannot possibly be seeing what we are in fact seeing. Indeed, that is one of the reasons such evil persists.”
Senator Joseph Lieberman, 2009
It will be ten years ago in September of next year (2013), which is just a few days away from this one, that French “public intellectual” Bernard Henri-Lévy published a remarkably detailed and exhaustively argued account of his own one-year investigation of the murder of The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl who had journeyed into that heart of darkness I prefer calling the Pakistan theater of the Islamic Small Wars.
In pursuit of the Pearl story, Henri-Lévy stepped into the dark social sphere of a war zone advertising itself primarily with small eruptions of violence within its own quarters: mosque bombings; wedding party shoot-em-ups; motorbike-assisted assassination; curbside suicide bombings; and the like. Along those lines, the murder of interest fit the perverse gangland style of the God mob, i.e., something seen, grotesque and horrifying, belying much not seen but equally present in the atmosphere.
The book’s worth every minute of reading, and I’m not going to be the spoiler but for one web-searchable bit of curiosity: has anything changed?
“The report is based on material from 27,000 interrogations with more than 4,000 captured Taliban, al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters and civilians.
It notes: “Pakistan’s manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues unabatedly”.
It says that Pakistan is aware of the locations of senior Taliban leaders.”
The leaked NATO report, judging by Sommerville’s account of it, and this as much as much else having to do with the Islamic Small Wars, tells of states-of-affairs worse than the image generally delivered to the public.
Two months later (March 24, 2012), Pakistan Today reported, “The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) continues to maintain ties with the Taliban and the Haqqani network, the top commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan has told American lawmakers . . . .”
A few days later (March 29, 2012) this indecipherable and morbid video posted to YouTube: http://youtu.be/g6tOCvy8NbA
Even if on the surface, we see what the title says, “Pakistani military police ISI capture taliban 2012” — which Taliban? how? where? when?
We know we’re not seeing the Taliban, certainly not as the west has percieved it, being shut down. At best, there’s a moment in the clip in which the arrested name their points of origin, and as regards Pakistan, most, perhaps all, are foreign fighters.
This passage saw publication last year, 2011 (May 4) under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations:
“Numerous U.S. officials have also accused the ISI of supporting terrorist groups, even as the Pakistani government seeks increased aid from Washington with assurances of fighting militants. In a May 2009 interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said “to a certain extent, they play both sides.” Gates and others suggest the ISI maintains links with groups like the Afghan Taliban as a “strategic hedge” to help Islamabad gain influence in Kabul once U.S. troops exit the region.”
“May 2009” (the italics are mine today and their absence in the bloc are mine too) — that’s about five-and-one-half years past the publication of Who Killed Daniel Pearl?
From 2010, more than two years prior to 2012 reporting on about the same thing, this from The New York Times: “The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials . . . The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago.”
Arrest some, not others?
The Mazzetti and Filkins report notes the ambivalence and ambiguities accompanying their lead: “One Obama administration official said Monday that the White House had “no reason to think that anybody was double-dealing at all” in aiding in the capture of Mullah Baradar. A parade of American officials traveling to the Pakistani capital have made the case that the Afghan Taliban are now aligned with groups — like the Pakistani Taliban — that threaten the stability of the Pakistani government.”
Remember: that above hails from 2010.
Yesterday, December 25, 2012, from the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP): “At least 20 persons, including four Policemen, were killed in separate incidents in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh on December 25, reports Daily Times.”
One appreciates that passive voice: ” . . . were killed . . . .”
For what reason?
Along with much else, Bernard-Lévy’s investigation focuses the reader, perhaps inadvertently, perhaps only this reader, on what is most hidden in crimes against notable professionals and states: intimate relationships — not sexual but deeply personal — and their psychology: the buy-in to life-defining common purpose, the concerted efforts by many parties to spill innocent blood, the human nets in which secrets may be contained and suspended, the many ways in which once one is in, drawn in — or kidnapped — one may not be able to get out.
Daniel Peal’s kidnapping took place January 23, 2002 (again: after a full year of independent investigation, Henri-Levy’s book came out in September 2003), so we’re approaching the 11th year marker on a murder that would have by way of partial homage, which Henri-Lévy notes, an illuminating after life.
Instead of “sending a message” and hiding criminals, it promoted another kind of message — a message about character, friendliness, love, integrity, justice, and resolve by way of its reception and the global response to it — and afterward, and with many parties taking up every strand of thought and relationship involved, opened avenues for insight, law enforcement, evolving politics, and, again, a broadened and democratized global intelligence.
Indeed, if not much has changed, or change has not been as much as one would have wished, the collective “we”, has today a host of names and relationships with which to catch up and, if in our own small way, search out by web and by way of new social relationships.
“When the police found Pearl’s remains, Abdul Sattar Edhi, one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan, arrived promptly on the scene, personally collected all ten body parts, and took them to the morgue.”
Language may be in its totality — all art and artifacts, all spoken and wrtten communication — many things, but a part of what everyone hears and sees in the course of living is their own reflection cast back in impressions expressed by others. In that way, an intolerant and intolerable mentality may find itself facing itself. The awful deed accompanied by its unrepentant braggadocio may become also where unseen a most soul crushing and deeply humiliating burden, a thing eventually to be exculpated quietly, privately, out of the light.
Henri-Lévy, Bernard. Who Killed Daniel Pearl. James X. Mitchell, Translator. Hoboken, New Jersey: Melville House Publishing, 2003.