• publish: 4 September 2016
  • time: 1:28 pm
  • category: International
  • No: 4358

Ex-Pak Army chief’s son exchanged for Al Qaeda’s Zawahiri’s daughters

The terrorist group al-Qaida has said it extracted the release of two daughters of its chief Ayman al-Zawahiri and the widow of slain 9/11 planner in exchange for the kidnapped son of former Pakistan army Chief Pervez Ashfaq Kayani.

The claim was made late August on the front page of the al-Qaeda online magazine Al Masra and reported in the US-based Long War Journal on Friday. The magazine said it had also beheaded a Pakistani spy who had led its “apostate” army to the three women, who it said have been sent back to Egypt after the prisoner exchange. Mumbai mirror reported.

Although news of the detention of Zawahiri’s daughters in Pakistan has been in the cybersphere for some time, there has been no hint that Kayani’s son Sarosh had been kidnapped to secure their release. Instead, recent developments centered around the kidnapping of Ali Gilani, son of the former Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani, who spoke after his rescue by US and Afghan forces of attempts to swap him for the release of some al-Qaeda operatives’ womenfolk.

It now turns out that the women may have been Zawahiri’s daughters Fatima and Umaymah, who were leaving Pakistan’s Waziristan province early in 2015 with their large brood (of seven children and five children respectively) on account of repeated bombing, when they were detained by the Pakistani military. The third woman was Samiyyah, widow of Adnan Shukrajumah, said to be one of the 9/11 planners.

“All of the attempts at mediation and negotiation with the Pakistani army which does not cease keeping these families under arrest, have been unsuccessful,” al-Qaeda had said in a statement in July.

The outfit later claimed that the “prideful” Pakistani army initially “refused” the proposed exchange, but eventually agreed to it after lengthy negotiations. The language of the claims suggest that the Pakistani military has been hand and glove with al-Qaida, as has been long suspected, and that the two sides have lines of communication they use often.

As if to emphasise that it was not Gilani it was talking about, al-Qaeda published a photo of Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, according to the Long War Journal. While the Journal said it cannot substantiate the Kayani exchange with independent evidence, it said the tactic is entirely consistent with Qaeda’s past schemes.

Indeed, kidnapping Pakistani elites for ransom and prisoner exchange has been a fairly common occurrence in Pakistan. Another recent entry in the country’s kidnapping hall of fame is Shahbaz Taseer, son of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer Invariably, details of their “rescue” or release are shrouded in mystery.

Kayani’s son Sarosh is listed as an executive at the Fauji Fertiliser Company, a military enterprise.

Although Kayani came into the army from humble origins (his father was a junior commissioned officer), like most Pakistani generals he retired a wealthy man thanks to the licence the country’s military has to dip into the coffers.

Kayani’s brother Kamran Kayani is now an absconder in the 17 billion rupee defence housing land scandal and he is being investigated by National Accountability Bureau, according to the Pakistan media. Typically, the Pakistani media discovers only after they retire that army chiefs like Pervez Musharraf and Kayani have fattened themselves at the expense of the country. The media is currently glorifying General Raheel Sharif, due to retire in November, amid reports that he will be made a “Field Marshal” in addition to the chest full of medals he is already weighed down with.

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