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Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh

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Known as "Sheikh Omar", Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh is a British citizen, of Pakistani descent, with links to various Islamic-based terrorist organisations, including Al-Qaeda and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. He has been mentioned in many conspiracy theories linking him with the CIA and the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency, for whom he was allegedly an informer. Many of the sensationalist and inaccurate reports - the basis for the conspiracy theories involving him - arose in the confusion of the early weeks after the 9/11 attacks, when investigators did not have a clear picture of the plot, and followed a great many leads that later turned out to be dead ends. As of 2005 the suspicion that Sheikh played a part in the funding of the 9/11 attacks has been fading. However, as the factual support for his involvement has crumbled, conspiracy theories about him have thrived. Much of what follows is perhaps best seen in that context.

In his youth he attended Forest School Snaresbrook, a public school in North-East London, whose alumni include England cricket captain Nasser Hussain. He also attended the prestigious London School of Economics.

The Times describes Saeed Sheikh as "no ordinary terrorist but a man who has connections that reach high into Pakistan's military and intelligence elite and into the innermost circles of Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda organization." According to ABC, Sheikh began working for the ISI in 1993. By 1994 he was operating terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and had earned the title of bin Laden's "special son." At the time, the Taliban were beginning to dominate Afghanistan, much due to support received from the ISI. In May 2002, the Washington Post quotes an unnamed Pakistani as saying that the ISI paid Sheikh's legal fees during his 1994 trial in India on charges of kidnap. However, this claim has not been confirmed by any other source.

An unnamed senior-level U.S. government source told CNN in October of 2001 that U.S. investigators had dicovereed that someone using the alias Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad possibly Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, allegedly a long-time ISI informer, had sent about $100,000 from the United Arab Emirates to Mohammed Atta, the suspected hijack ringleader of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

"Investigators said Atta then distributed the funds to conspirators in Florida in the weeks before the deadliest acts of terrorism on U.S. soil that destroyed the World Trade Center, heavily damaged the Pentagon and left thousands dead.

In addition, sources have said Atta sent thousands of dollars -- believed to be excess funds from the operation -- back to Saeed in the United Arab Emirates in the days before September 11.

Saeed also is described as a key figure in the funding operation of al Qaeda, the network headed by suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden." [1] (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/10/05/inv.terror.investigation/)

CNN later confirmed that it was Ahmed Umar Saeed Sheikh, "whom authorities say used a pseudonym to wire $100,000 to suspected hijacker Mohammad Atta, who then distributed the money in the United States."[2] (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/south/10/08/india.ressa/)

More than a month after the money transfer was discovered, the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Gen. Mahmood (Mahmud) Ahmed resigned from his position. Indian news outlets reported the FBI was investigating the possiblity that Gen. Mahmood Ahmed ordered Saeed Sheikh to send the $100,000 to Atta, while most Western media outlets only reported his connections to the Taliban as the reason for his departure. [3] (http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/essay.jsp?article=essaysaeed) However, Gen. Ahmad resigned on the day that the US air assault on Afghanistan began - as did other senior Pakistani officers who did not support Gen. Pervez Musharraf in his decision to give the US the use of three airbases in Pakistan. The 9/11 commission reported that the source of the funds remained unknown.

Moreover, The Wall Street Journal was one of the only Western news organizations to follow up on the story, citing the Times of India: "US authorities sought [Gen. Mahmud Ahmed's] removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 [was] wired to WTC hijacker Mohammed Atta from Pakistan by Ahmad Umar Sheikh at the instance of Gen Mahumd."[4] (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=95001298) A dubious report, possibly wholly fabricated and certainly deficient in verifiable evidence, came from an Indian tabloid, the Daily Excelsior, reporting "The FBI’s examination of the hard disk of the cellphone company Omar Sheikh had subscribed to led to the discovery of the "link" between him and the deposed chief of the Pakistani ISI, Gen. Mehmood Ahmed. And as the FBI investigators delved deep, sensational reports surfaced with regard to the transfer of 100,000 dollars to Mohammed Atta, one of the kamikaze pilots who flew his Boeing into the World Trade Centre. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, the FBI investigators found, fully knew about the transfer of money to Atta."[5] (http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/01oct18/news.htm)

The Pittsburgh Tribune notes that "There are many in Musharraf's government who believe that Saeed Sheikh's power comes not from the ISI, but from his connections with our own CIA."[6] (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/opinion/datelinedc/s_20141.html)

Sheikh rose to prominence with the 2002 killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl. In Pakistan, he was sentenced to death for killing Pearl.

External links

  • 'Our Friends the Pakistanis' - The Wall Street Journal (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=95001298) Third-hand report, referring to a article in a Pakistani newspaper, Dawn (a brief filed by its correspondent in New Delhi, India) reporting on speculation in the Indian media about Saeed Sheikh and the ISI director.
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