September 28, 2003


Inside the Islamic Mafia: Bernard-Henri Lévy exposes Daniel Pearl's killers. (Christopher Hitchens, September 25, 2003, Slate)

I remember laughing out loud, in what was admittedly a mirthless fashion, when Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, one of Osama Bin Laden's most heavy-duty deputies, was arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Straining to think of an apt comparison, I fail badly. But what if, say, the Unabomber had been found hiding out in the environs of West Point or Fort Bragg? Rawalpindi is to the Pakistani military elite what Sandhurst is to the British, or St Cyr used to be to the French. It's not some boiling slum: It's the manicured and well-patrolled suburb of the officer class, very handy for the capital city of Islamabad if you want to mount a coup, and the site of Flashman's Hotel if you are one of those who enjoys the incomparable imperial adventure-stories of George MacDonald Fraser. Who, seeking to evade capture, would find a safe house in such a citadel?

Yet, in the general relief at the arrest of this outstanding thug, that aspect of the matter drew insufficient attention. Many words of praise were uttered, in official American circles, for the exemplary cooperation displayed by our gallant Pakistani allies. But what else do these allies have to trade, except al-Qaida and Taliban suspects, in return for the enormous stipend they receive from the U.S. treasury? Could it be that, every now and then, a small trade is made in order to keep the larger trade going?

One hesitates to utter thoughts like these, but they recur continually as one reads Bernard-Henri Lévy's latest book: Who Killed Daniel Pearl? Everybody remembers—don't they?—the ghastly video put out on the Web by Pearl's kidnappers and torturers. It's the only live-action footage we possess of the ritual slaughter of a Jew, preceded for effect by his coerced confession of his Jewishness. Pearl was lured into a trap by the promise of a meeting with a senior religious demagogue, who might or might not have shed light on the life of the notorious "shoe-bomber," because of whom millions of us must take off our footwear at American airports every day, as if performing the pieties required for entering a mosque.

What a sick joke all this is, if you study Lévy's book with care. If you ever suspected that the Pakistani ISI (or Interservices Intelligence) was in a shady relationship with the Taliban and al-Qaida forces, this book materializes the suspicion and makes the very strong suggestion that Pearl was murdered because he was doing his job too well, not because he was a naive idealist who got into the wrong car at the wrong time. His inquiries had at least the potential for exposing the Pakistani collusion and double-dealing with jihad forces, in much the same pattern the Saudi Arabian authorities have been shown to follow—by keeping two sets of books, in other words, and by exhibiting only one set to Americans.

In case you've ever wondered why the India-Israel-America axis is the most important and under-reported story in the world today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2003 6:54 PM

I stuck a link on Reductio earlier to a review by Robert Kaplan of the same book, but I had not seen the Hitchens review. I'm going to steal your link. :)

Here's the Kaplan:

Posted by: kevin whited at September 28, 2003 7:19 PM

It is a compelling development, but Harry's warnings about India are worth contemplating before we get too excited in a long-term sense. Who is the Bernard Lewis of Hinduism?

Posted by: Peter B at September 28, 2003 7:49 PM

One homocidal, fanatical belief system at a time, Peter, one at a time.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 28, 2003 10:40 PM


It would be unfortunate if India were to slaughter all its non-Hindus and launch an apocalyptic war with Islam, but it wouldn't threaten our security.

Posted by: oj at September 29, 2003 9:11 AM

I take AOG's pragmatic point, but Orrin, can't you imagine yourself writing twenty tears ago that "it would be unfortunate if the Islamists killed all their communists and launched an apocalyptic war against the Soviet Union, but it wouldn't threaten our security."

Anyway, I have no basis for mistrusting India or Hinduism thus--just asking.

Posted by: Peter B at September 30, 2003 4:01 AM


Yes. And they don't threaten our security.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2003 7:58 AM