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Who Killed Zia?
The Israelis killed Zia, suspects ex-US ambassador..
Zia ul-HaqNEW JERSEY, DEC 3: Of all the violent political deaths in the twentieth century, none with such great interest to the United States has been more clouded than the mysterious air crash that killed President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan in 1988, a tragedy that also claimed the life of a serving American ambassador and most of General Zia's top commanders. The list of potential malefactors has grown as the years have passed, compounding the mysteries buried in this peculiar, unfinished tale.

The one unarguable fact is that no serious, conclusive, or even comprehensive inquiry into the crash has been undertaken in the United States, although one of its top diplomats, Arnold Raphel, and an American general were killed–and in an American built aircraft. Congress held a few hearings, but the FBI was kept away from the case for a year. No official report was made public. Indeed, a file in the National Archives containing about 250 pages of documents on the event is still classified secret.

The undisputed facts about the crash of the Pakistani president's specially outfitted Lockheed C-130 aircraft on August 17, 1988, are not many. Even some of those "facts" are still in dispute and can be called up to stoke suspicions of the United States in South Asia.

In her insightful article in the World Policy Journal, Barbara Crossette who was the New York Times bureau chief in South Asia from 1988 to 1991 struggles to uncover some of these "facts" - related to Zia's murder but in the process has added more pertinent questions which will perhaps remain unanswered due to national security reasons affecting both the USA and Pakistan.

Absent any formal inquiry completed and reported by USA regarding Arnold Raphel and an American Brigadier-General's untimely death alongside President General Zia, Barbara's article is apparently the closest it gets to the reality through the words of Dean sans the "smoking gun".

If she is to be believed, the infamous Israeli secret agency Mossad (whose motto is "with clandestine terrorism we will conduct war") most probably killed Gen Ziaul Haq, suspects John Gunther Dean, who was the American ambassador to India in 1988.

Barbara Crossette interviewed ex-ambassador Gunther Dean before writing her article.

Gunther DeanBut as Daily Times editorial says " Why was the State Department reluctant to take Mr Dean seriously, given that the assessment was coming from its top diplomat based in one of the most sensitive listening posts? Why did the State Department, perhaps fearing that Mr Dean would not relent, decided to sideline him on psychiatric grounds? Is there a smoking gun here? Why did the US government not launch a thorough inquiry into the incident even though the crash claimed the life of its ambassador and a general? Why was the Federal Bureau of Investigations not allowed a thorough probe into the crash? We know from Ms Crossette’s account that when Mr Dean was ambassador to India, various pro-Israel Congressmen and other US policymakers constantly asked him why he wasn’t cooperating with the Israelis to thwart Pakistan’s nuclear program and demonize Pakistan. Mr Dean was also under pressure to persuade the Indians to be more pro-Israel. Mr Dean also alleged on the record that the Israelis tried to kill him in 1980 when he was US ambassador to the Lebanon because he disagreed with Israeli policies."

When Mr Dean expressed his views to the State Department at the time and insisted on a thorough investigation of the Israeli-Indian axis, he was accused of mental imbalance and relieved of his duties, Dean told Barbara.

Dean was a distinguished diplomat who has garnered more ambassadorships than most envoys. He had strong opinions and years of valuable experience. As an independent thinker, he often had problems being a good “diplomat”.

Dean believes that the Israelis wanted to stop Pakistan’s military from making nuclear weapons. They had attacked Iraq’s nuclear facilities at Osirak in 1981 and believed Gen Zia when he declared in 1987 that Pakistan was a “screwdriver’s turn away from the bomb”.

Dean, now 80, has remained silent for nearly 20 years but is now collecting his papers and is ready to share his thoughts. He was declared mentally unfit for demanding an investigation into the crash. He lost his medical clearance and security clearance because of his views and was forced to seek retirement in 1988. After he made the charge following the air crash in which the then US ambassador to Pakistan, Arnie Raphel was also killed, he was sent to Switzerland to “rest” for six weeks and only then allowed to return to New Delhi to pack his bags and quit. He is now opening the case because he wants to clear the charge of “mental imbalance” and ask the questions that have long remained buried about the air crash that killed Gen Zia.

Dean says that when he was ambassador to India, various pro-Israel Congressmen and other US policy makers constantly asked him why he wasn’t cooperating with the Israelis to thwart Pakistan’s nuclear program and demonize Pakistan. He says he was asked to persuade the Indians to be more pro-Israel too. He is on record as having alleged that the Israelis tried to kill him in 1980 when he was US ambassador to the Lebanon because he disagreed with Israeli policies. He was accused of being “pro-Palestinian” in the Israeli Knesset (parliament).

The US did not allow the FBI or any other agency to carry out a full-fledged investigation into the crash.

Mossad LogoAs reports coming out after General Zia’s death testify, writes Daily Times, there were many conspiracy theories. General Zia was a man wanted dead by any number of actors. Was he killed by the Al Zulfiqar, the underground terrorist organization set up by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s son, Mir Murtaza Bhutto to avenge his father’s hanging? Was he killed by elements within the Pakistani military? On this we have the accusation of General Zia’s son, Ijaz ul Haq, who alleged that his father was killed by General Aslam Beg. (In fact, the government set up the Justice Shafi ur Rehman Commission to look into the issue. The Commission’s report was inconclusive, saying that the army had not cooperated with it and did not allow many witnesses to depose before it.) Another theory related to the Iranian/Shia factor because of General Zia’s Deobandi policies and his close connections with Saudi Arabia. Yet another theory saw the American hand in the incident on the grounds that Zia had double-crossed the Americans by fast-tracking Pakistan’s nuclear program and taking control of the Mujahideen the US had helped put in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets."

Many still believe this particular theory.

"Still another theory accused the Ahmadiya community of masterminding General Zia’s end." writes Daily Times. "At the time, and until now, there was no mention of the Israelis."

"Now we have Mr Dean’s account. We do know that Israelis have never shied from taking illegal and pre-emptive actions on foreign soil whenever Tel Aviv has considered it vital for Israel’s security. Israel attacked and destroyed Iraq’s Osirak reactor on June 7 1981; it is known to have kidnapped foreigners and brought them in; and Mossad is also notorious for assassinations. In theory, the Israelis could have done it; at least they would have had no qualms about doing something like this if it meant enhancing Israel’s security. As for the State Department cover up, we have the incident of USS Liberty which was attacked by Israeli gun-boats in 1967. Thirty-four US servicemen were killed in the attack witnessed by a US spy plane. However, the US launched a massive cover-up campaign to keep the truth under wraps. According to one account, a former Navy attorney (retired Capt Ward Boston) who helped lead the military investigation of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty said in an affidavit that former President Lyndon Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert McNamara, had ordered that the inquiry conclude the incident was an accident."

"We now have a lead; it would be interesting to see where it leads."

If history is to be followed, Zia's death story will probably remain as mysterious and  inconclusive as any "big game" and as murky as any cold war period James Bond 007 type plots minus its ravishing, seductive fairer sexes of course!

(Source: World Policy Journal + Daily Times +

About Mossad

The Mossad (“Institute” in Hebrew) is the government intelligence agency tasked with collecting information, analyzing intelligence, and performing special covert operations beyond Israel’s borders. Its full name is Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks.

The Mossad is based in Tel Aviv and was formed in 1951 by then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

The identity of the Mossad director was kept secret until 1996, when the government announced the appointment of Major General Danny Yatom to replace Shabtai Shavit. Current director Meir Dagan was appointed in September 2002.

Israel's most celebrated spy, Eli Cohen, was recruited by the Mossad during the 1960s to infiltrate the top echelons of the Syrian government.

Other successes attributed to the Mossad include the 1960 capture of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in Argentina, the 1986 abduction in Rome of Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed state secrets to a London newspaper, as well as a series of assassinations in the 1970s of Arabs connected to the Black September terrorist group behind the 1972 attack on the Israeli Olympic team in Munich.

Mossad agents are also said to have played a pivotal role in the 1988 assassination in Tunis of top Palestine Liberation Organization figure Abu Jihad.

The Mossad has also experienced setbacks. In 1974, agents killed an Algerian waiter they mistook for a terrorist believed to have masterminded the 1972 Munich attack. In 1997, Mossad operatives in Jordan were captured after attempting to assassinate top Hamas figure Khaled Mashal by injecting him with poison. In a bid to save relations with Jordan and free the Mossad men, Israel provided the antidote and released several Palestinian prisoners, including former Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
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