Friend and Ally indeed. Pakistan’s Double Game Update: “Pakistan’s release of militant stirs questions,” by Kathy Gannon for Associated Press, January 9 (thanks to JCB):
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – He is a self-declared warrior against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. He allegedly ran terrorist training camps there when the Taliban was in power. He was suspected of involvement in the attempted assassination of two Pakistani leaders.
And today, Qari Saifullah Akhtar is free.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, the top judicial official in Akhtar’s native Punjab province, told The Associated Press he was released from four months of house arrest in early December because authorities finished questioning him in connection with the October 2007 attempted assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and found no grounds to charge him. Bhutto was killed in December the same year.
However, one U.S. official said Akhtar has extensive ties to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and is someone who should not be free to walk around the streets of Pakistan or any other country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Former U.S. intelligence officials and analysts said Akhtar’s release is yet another sign of Pakistan’s reluctance or inability to crack down on the most dangerous terrorist organizations….