پاکستاان لیجر | PAKISTAN LEDGER | پاکستاني کھاتا |Sept. 23rd, 08 | Moin Ansari | معین آنصآرّی |
Islamabad Pakistan Marriot: What was the US Marine role?
Russian Military Analysts are reporting in the Kremlin today that the massive blast that caused 53 deaths at the Islamabad Marriott hotel in Pakistan was an operation conducted by India's foreign intelligence agency The Research and Analysis Wing [RAW] in an attempt to ‘decapitate’ Pakistan’s entire leadership. India had become ‘alarmed’ by the United States and Pakistan’s ISI plan...
Americans’ presence at Marriott not a secret: US embassy
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani authorities are trying to solve the riddle of US Marines and their mysterious steel cases, which were shifted to the Marriott Hotel four days before the hotel was reduced to ashes by the worst ever terrorist attack in the history of the federal capital.
These authorities want to ascertain if it was a routine exercise or part of some special mission that does not have the approval of the Government of Pakistan.
The US embassy insists the activity witnessed was a team of support personnel that often and routinely precede and/or accompany certain US officials. However, the government authorities probing the matter have already got most of the facts ascertained as mentioned in The News story on Sunday.
According to an official source, the authorities were told that mysterious activity of the US Marines took place around 12:00 midnight on 16 September. Already the government has got the information that several rooms on the fourth floor of the Marriott were in permanent use of the US authorities. Three of these rooms were said to be inter-connected and contained some intelligence equipment and other material allegedly used for espionage.
Sadruddin Hashwani, the owner of the Marriott, when approached denied that the Americans had any such presence in the hotel and said that like any such hotel in the world his guests included people of different nationalities. “Why focus on the Americans unnecessarily,” Hashwani wondered. He refuted that the US embassy had permanently hired several rooms in his hotel.
The US embassy spokesperson Lou Fintor, however, when asked if the US embassy had hired several rooms in the Marriott Hotel for years, said in his written reply that the US embassy has been a frequent customer of the Marriott Hotel for many years. On any given day, he said, there were employees of the American embassy and official American visitors staying at the hotel. “There is nothing unusual, secretive or ‘mysterious’ about this,” he said.
When asked if three of these permanently hired rooms were interconnected, Fintor said, “For our frequent visiting delegations, the embassy often rented adjoining rooms — as we often do in other hotels in Pakistan and in the world.”
Responding to unconfirmed reports that the US-rented rooms in the Marriott Hotel were being used by the CIA for espionage purposes, he said, “Unfortunately, far too many things have been ‘said’ that have absolutely no basis in fact. There is no truth whatsoever in allegations that covert activity was taking place on the part of the United States government.”
The spokesman said that these allegations are inaccurate, irresponsible, baseless and completely without any foundation whatsoever.
About the Marines and the steel cases which were reported to have been shifted to the hotel between the night of 16 and 17 September and whether these Marines and the suitcases were in the hotel on the day of the blast or evacuated before, he said, “A team of support personnel often and routinely precede and/or accompany certain US government officials. They often carry communication and office equipment required to support large delegations, such as high-level administration officials and members of the US Congress.”
He added that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would travel with communications equipment. “It is quite possible that some saw this communications equipment moved into the hotel. This equipment would leave with the CJCS. If the equipment was transported in full public view then obviously there was no attempt made to conceal its movement.”
Witnessed by many, including a PPP MNA and his friends, a US embassy’s truckload of steel boxes was unloaded and shifted inside the Marriott Hotel on September 16 midnight only after Mike Mullen, the US Admiral, had met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and others in Islamabad and had already left. Both the main gates (the entrance and the exit) of the hotel were closed while no one except the US Marines was either allowed to go near the truck or get the steel boxes unloaded or shift them inside the hotel. These steel boxes were not being passed through the scanners installed at the entrance of the hotel’s lobby, and were reportedly shifted to the fourth and fifth floors of the Marriott.
The US embassy spokesman also confirmed that the Marriott rooms, which were in use of the US officials, had the communication and office equipment, which were transported for use by Admiral Mullen.
A hotel employee, on condition of not being named, confided that the hotel management had been receiving threats from unknown persons for the last six months to get the US officials vacated from the hotel. However, Mr Hashwani when confronted said that there has been no threat received by the hotel management.