So Much for the Third Degree

That Al-Queda #3 man captured the other day? He's enjoying the gentle ministrations of the Pakistani intelligence services. But the interrogation, allegedly, isn't going that well:

Intelligence officials who have been questioning Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the senior al-Qa'eda suspect arrested last week, have cast doubt over claims by the Pakistani prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, that the interrogation is “proceeding well”.

The officials say that al-Libbi, who is believed to be al-Qaeda's number three, has defied efforts to make him reveal valuable intelligence about its senior hierarchy, despite coming under “physical pressure” to do so.

More than a dozen low-key al-Qa'eda targets were arrested in Pakistan last week thanks to information stored on al-Libbi's satellite telephone. Yet early hopes among both American and Pakistani intelligence officials that he would tell them the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawihiri, were dashed.

One senior intelligence official told The Telegraph: “So far he has not told us anything solid that could lead to the high-value targets. It is too early to judge whether he is a hard nut to crack, or simply that he doesn't know more than he has told us.”

Al-Libbi had been beaten and injected with the so-called “truth drug”, sodium pentothal, said the official. “They have tried all possible methods, from the 'third degree' to injecting him with a truth serum but it is hard to break him,” he said.

I have to say “allegedly” because this is the sort of disinformation you'd expect an on-the-ball intelligence agency to spread if the guy had in fact spilled his guts.

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One Response to So Much for the Third Degree


    Amidst much fanfare last week, President Bush announced the capture of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, supposedly a very senior al Qaeda leader in Pakistan who might lead us to Osama. . . Now it turns out, the capture may have been just another Emily Littella moment. The Sunday Times of London reports that European counter-terrorism experts believe Bush and Rice got it wrong, and confused al-Libbi with another much more senior al Qaeda leader named Anas al-Liby, who is thought to be a mastermind of the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa. al-Liby has not been captured:

    “Al-Libbi is just a ‘middle-level’ leader,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French intelligence investigator and leading expert on terrorism finance. “Pakistan and US authorities have completely overestimated his role and importance. He was never more than a regional facilitator between Al-Qaeda and local Pakistani Islamic groups.”. . . A former close associate of Bin Laden now living in London laughed: “What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying.”

    Some believe al-Libbi’s significance has been cynically hyped by two countries that want to distract attention from their lack of progress in capturing Bin Laden, who has now been on the run for almost four years.

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