Does Pervez Musharraf know anything about al Qaeda?

Noted terrorism expert and FP contributor Jarret Brachman had dinner with former Pakistani dictator President Pervez Musharraf last Friday, and wrote about it here (welcome to the world of new media, Pervez). For the record, Brachman describes Musharraf as "a gracious, humble and serious military man."

Some highlights of their conversation:

- He honestly believes that he transformed Pakistan from a backwards third-world garbage pit to a land of new opportunities and prosperity. That, for him, is the legacy that matters most.

- He seemed disengaged from al-Qaida overall, at one point forgetting the name of the jihadi godfather, Abdullah Azzam.

- He had no working knowledge of al-Qaida’s senior leadership below Bin Laden or Al-Zawahiri, which makes me think that he outsourced the entire al-Qaida portfolio.

- He stonewalled me on every question I asked involving Iran and Saudi Arabia. In fact, in his keynote addressed later that night entitled, “Internal and External Dynamics of Pakistan,” he didn’t mention either country. He also steered clear of my questions on the Pakistani ISI.

- He advanced the (now well accepted as false rumor) statement that Bin Laden is on kidney dialysis. When asked if UBL was in Pakistan, he responded by saying that’s like him asking if UBL is in the United States, “nothing more than unfounded speculation…”

- He seems to truly believe that he did everything he could against al-Qaida but that it was a series of American missteps, historically and currently, in Afghanistan that created the mess that exists today.

Makes you wonder who was running the al Qaeda portfolio in Pakistan, doesn't it?


Berlusconi loses immunity


After Silvio Berlusconi's lawyers broke out the "Animal Farm" defense that the prime minister should be first above equals, the Constitutional Court had heard enough, and today they stripped Berlusconi of his immunity.

The prime minister's camp has already called the shocking ruling politically motivated. And the opposition has resumed calls for him to resign. Berlusconi maintains that he will not step down, and that the immunity law protected him from distractions brought upon him by the judiciary.

As of now, none of the three frozen cases have been re-opened; however it may be a matter of time until Berlusconi finds himself on trial for a seventh time.