by Thomas Joscelyn
On March 1, 2003, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), was captured in Pakistan. Over the next month, KSM gave up information that let authorities identify al Qaeda members and associates he was working with to attack America again. According to documents authored by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), one of these men was Saifullah Paracha.
Saifullah is a wealthy Pakistani entrepreneur who ran multiple businesses. At Gitmo, intelligence authorities have alleged that Paracha agreed to let al Qaeda uses these businesses in a variety of ways. For example, Paracha ran a media company that he made available to Osama bin Laden for the purpose of creating and disseminating al Qaeda’s propaganda. Paracha also stored large sums of money ($500,000) for KSM and other al Qaeda operatives as they plotted their next attacks against America.
The most troubling aspect of KSM’s plotting with Saifullah is what they planned to do with his import-export business. Saifullah ran a textile business that shipped clothing to the U.S. Documents produced at Gitmo note that senior al Qaeda operatives (including KSM) wanted to use Saifullah’s textile company as a cover for shipping explosives into America using clothing containers. These explosives were then to be used against a variety of potential targets. Saifullah’s son, Uzair, was supposed to be on the receiving end of this illicit shipment. In March 2003, the same month KSM was captured, Uzair lived in Brooklyn and worked at an office for his father’s textile business in the Garment District of Manhattan.
But KSM’s plotting with the Parachas’ was stopped in its tracks. According to the CIA, information derived from KSM’s interrogations was used to identify the Parachas. Uzair was arrested in New York City in late March 2003 and was subsequently convicted and sentenced to thirty years in prison. Saifullah was arrested months later and is currently detained at Gitmo.
During his hearings at the detention facility, Saifullah has offered absurd excuses for his nefarious activities. He has claimed, for example, that his media company was going to work with Osama bin Laden to create videos promoting interreligious tolerance, and not terrorist propaganda.