U.S. officials say Pakistani spy agency released Afghan Taliban insurgents

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by ajtr, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Looks like fools in washington agained got conned by pakistan army's double dealing.So much for the strategic partnership.

    Pakistan May Have Secretly Freed Captured Taliban Leaders

    The recent capture of the Afghan Taliban's second in command seemed to signal a turning point in Pakistan, an indication that its intelligence agency had gone from helping to cracking down on the militant Islamist group.

    But U.S. officials now believe that even as Pakistan's security forces worked with their American counterparts to detain Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other insurgents, the country's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, quietly freed at least two senior Afghan Taliban figures it had captured on its own.

    U.S. military and intelligence officials said the releases, detected by American spy agencies but not publicly disclosed, are evidence that parts of Pakistan's security establishment continue to support the Afghan Taliban. This assistance underscores how complicated the CIA-ISI relationship remains at a time when the United States and Pakistan are battling insurgencies that straddle the Afghanistan border and are increasingly anxious about how the war in that country will end.

    The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity and declined to identify the Taliban figures who were released, citing the secrecy surrounding U.S. monitoring of the ISI. But officials said the freed captives were high-ranking Taliban members and would have been recognizable as insurgents the United States would want in custody.

    The capture of Baradar was "positive, any way you slice it," said a U.S. counterterrorism official. "But it doesn't mean they've cut ties at every level to each and every group." Initial reports said the arrest was made in February, but U.S. officials say that it occurred in late January. U.S. officials think that Pakistan continues to pursue a hedging strategy in seeking to maintain relationships with an array of entities -- including the U.S. and Afghan governments, as well as insurgent networks -- struggling to shape the outcome in Afghanistan, even as it aggressively battles the Pakistani branch of the Taliban.

    The ISI wants "to be able to resort to the hard-power option of supporting groups that can take Kabul," the Afghan capital, if the United States suddenly leaves, said a U.S. military adviser briefed on the matter. The ISI's relationship with the Afghan Taliban was forged under similar circumstances in the 1990s, when the spy service backed the fledgling Islamist movement as a solution to the chaos that followed the Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Pakistan denies charges

    In interviews in Islamabad, Pakistani intelligence officials said the ISI is committed to dismantling insurgent groups and denied that any Taliban operatives had been released after being captured. "It is our policy that we will go against these people," a Pakistani intelligence official said. The CIA and the ISI are "working like this," he said, clasping his hands together.

    U.S. officials concur that the collaboration between the CIA and the ISI has improved substantially, but they said they see ongoing signs that some ISI operatives are providing sanctuary and other assistance to factions of the Taliban when their CIA counterparts are not around.

    "They did, in fact, capture and release a couple," said a U.S. military official involved in discussions with Pakistan, adding that the ISI's purported decision to do so "speaks to how hard it is to change your DNA."

    Pakistani officials acknowledge ISI contacts with the Taliban but describe them as benign. They note that an intelligence service is supposed to monitor militant groups operating in the country.

    "There may be certain individuals who may not like American policy, but that does not mean they will not do their duty," said the Pakistani intelligence official, adding that the capture of Baradar in Karachi was one of 63 CIA-ISI operations carried out over the past year. The U.S. military adviser said the senior Taliban figures later released were detained in Baluchistan, a province that encompasses the city of Quetta, where Mohammad Omar and other Afghan Taliban leaders are thought to have taken refuge after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan drove them out of power.

    The releases occurred in January and February, officials said, around the time the ISI conducted a series of raids that led to the capture of Baradar and reportedly four other senior Taliban figures. Among them were "shadow governors" who unofficially preside over swaths of territory in Afghanistan.

    U.S. officials said there are questions about whether one of the arrests occurred. Pakistani security officials said in February that Maulvi Abdul Kabir, thought by some to be a member of the core Taliban leadership known as the Quetta shura, had been captured in the northwestern district of Nowshera. But U.S. officials said there has been no evidence of the arrest and now suspect that Kabir was never detained.

    Under U.S. pressure

    Pakistan has been pressured repeatedly to sever its ties to the Taliban since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As recently as November, President Obama sent a letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari warning that the Islamabad government's use of insurgent groups to advance its interests "cannot continue."

    Since 2001, the CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to the ISI, which has helped track down al-Qaeda operatives and provided targeting information for an escalating campaign of drone strikes. Over the past several years, Pakistan also has launched military operations in its tribal belt aimed at rooting out insurgent groups.

    Officials from both countries said those efforts have intensified in the past 12 months. Pakistan recently permitted the United States to put in place additional CIA operatives and eavesdropping equipment. Officials said U.S.-provided communications intercepts helped lead the ISI to Baradar, but the Pakistani agency has requested equipment of its own.

    "We are extremely dependent on the Americans for signals" intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence official said. "We have been crying for them to give us satellite telephone intercept capability. We do not have that to date."

    Even after the Baradar arrest, some U.S. intelligence officials cautioned against seeing the capture as a decisive turn.

    High-ranking U.S. intelligence officials acknowledge that they have a very limited understanding of the ISI. CIA veterans who have worked closely with the Pakistani agency describe it as sprawling and so compartmentalized that units working alongside the CIA might have little knowledge of the activities of the "S" directorate, which maintains ties to insurgent groups.

    CIA officials think that the ISI's connection to the Taliban is active, but "it's not clear how high that goes or who knows about it," said the U.S. counterterrorism official. "The Pakistanis did a sharp change of policy after 9/11, and it's not certain everybody got the memo -- or read it if they did."

    Staff writer Karen DeYoung in Islamabad contributed to this report.
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    This is apt to describe usa position now.:)
    [​IMG]
     
    hit&run likes this.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Complex relations in battle against Taliban

    The recent capture of the Afghan Taliban's second in command seemed to signal a turning point in Pakistan, an indication that its intelligence agency had gone from providing help to cracking down on the militant Islamist group.

    But U.S. officials now believe that even as Pakistani security forces worked with American counterparts to detain Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other insurgents, the country's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, quietly freed at least two senior Afghan Taliban figures it had captured on its own.

    U.S. military and intelligence officials said the releases, detected by spy agencies but not publicly disclosed, are evidence that parts of Pakistan's security establishment continue to support the Afghan Taliban. This assistance underscores how complicated the CIA-ISI relationship remains at a time when the United States and Pakistan are both battling insurgencies that straddle the Afghanistan border and are increasingly anxious about how the war in that country will end. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity and declined to disclose the names of the Taliban figures who were released, citing the secrecy surrounding U.S. monitoring of the ISI. But officials said the freed captives were high-ranking Taliban members and would have been recognized as insurgents the United States would want in custody.

    The capture of Baradar was "positive, any way you slice it," said a U.S. counter-terrorism official. "But it doesn't mean they've cut ties at every level to each and every group." Initial reports said the arrest had occurred in February, but U.S. officials say that it took place in late January.

    U.S. officials believe that Pakistan continues to pursue a hedging strategy in seeking to maintain relationships with an array of entities -- including the U.S. and Afghan governments, as well as insurgent networks -- struggling to shape the outcome in Afghanistan, even as it aggressively battles the Pakistani branch of the Taliban.

    The ISI wants "to be able to resort to the hard power option of supporting groups that can take Kabul" if the United States suddenly leaves, said a U.S. military advisor briefed on the matter. The ISI's relationship with the Afghan Taliban was forged under similar circumstances in the 1990s, when the spy service backed the fledgling Islamist movement as a solution to the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal.

    'We will go against these people'
    In interviews in Islamabad, Pakistani intelligence officials said the ISI was committed to dismantling insurgent groups, denying that any Taliban operatives had been captured and released. "It is our policy that we will go against these people," a Pakistani intelligence official said. Clasping his hands together, he said the CIA and ISI are "working like this." U.S. officials concur that that the collaboration between the CIA and ISI has improved substantially but said they see ongoing signs that some ISI operatives are providing sanctuary and other assistance to factions of the Taliban when their CIA counterparts are not around.

    "They did in fact capture and release a couple," said a U.S. military official involved in discussions with Pakistan, adding that the ISI's decision to do so "speaks to how hard it is to change your DNA."

    Pakistani officials acknowledge ISI contacts with the Taliban but describe them as benign and note that monitoring militant groups inside the country is what an intelligence service is supposed to do.

    "There may be certain individuals who may not like American policy, but that does not mean they will not do their duty," said the Pakistani intelligence official, adding that the capture of Baradar in Karachi was one of 63 joint CIA-ISI operations carried out over the past year. 'Shadow governors'
    The U.S. military adviser said the senior Taliban figurers were detained in Baluchistan, a province that encompasses the sprawling city of Quetta, where Mullah Muhammad Omar and other Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to have taken refuge after being expelled from Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in 2001.

    The releases took place in January and February, officials said, around the same time that the ISI conducted a series of raids that led to the reported capture of Baradar and four other senior Taliban figures. Among them were so-called "shadow governors" who preside unofficially over swaths of territory in Afghanistan.

    U.S. officials said there are new questions about whether one of those arrests occurred. Pakistan security officials said in February that Maulvi Abdul Kabir, thought by some to be a member of the Taliban's "Quetta Shura" leadership core, had been captured in the northwest Nowshera district. But U.S. officials said there has been no subsequent evidence of the arrest, and now believe that Kabir was never detained.

    Pakistan has been pressured repeatedly to sever its ties to the Taliban since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As recently as November, President Obama sent a letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari warning that the government's use of insurgent groups to advance its interests "cannot continue."

    CIA funnels money
    In the years since 2001, the CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to the ISI, which has helped track down al-Qaeda operatives and provided targeting information for an escalating campaign of drone strikes. Over the past several years, Pakistan has also launched a series of military operations in the tribal region aimed at rooting out insurgent groups.

    Officials from both countries said those efforts have intensified during the past 12 months.

    Pakistan has recently permitted the United States to insert additional CIA operatives and eavesdropping equipment. Officials said U.S.-provided communications intercepts helped lead the ISI to Baradar in Karachi earlier this year, although the ISI has requested equipment of its own. "We are extremely dependent on the Americans for signals" intelligence, the Pakistani intelligence official said. "We have been crying for them to give us satellite telephone intercept capability. We do not have that to date."

    Even after the Baradar arrest, some U.S. intelligence officials cautioned against seeing the capture as a decisive turn. High-ranking U.S. intelligence officials acknowledge that they have a very limited understanding of the ISI. CIA veterans who have worked closely with the agency describe it as sprawling and so compartmentalized that units working alongside the CIA might have little knowledge of the activities of the so-called "S" directorate that maintains ties to insurgent groups.

    CIA officials believe that the ISI's links to the Taliban are active, but "it's not clear how high that goes, or who knows about it," said the U.S. counter-terrorism official. "The Pakistanis did a sharp change of policy after 9/11, and it's not certain everybody got the memo -- or read it if they did."
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    ISI still backs Taliban: US

    Washington, April 11 (IANS) US officials believe that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) still supports the Taliban despite recent signals that the spy agency had started cracking down on the Islamist group, says the Washington Post.

    The recent capture of the Afghan Taliban's second in command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar seemed to signal a turning point in Pakistan. But US officials now think that even as Pakistan's security forces worked with their American counterparts to capture Baradar and other insurgents, ISI, quietly freed at least two senior Afghan Taliban figures it had captured on its own, the influential US daily reported Sunday.

    The Post cited unnamed US military and intelligence officials as saying the releases, detected by American spy agencies but not publicly disclosed, are evidence that parts of Pakistan's security establishment continue to support the Afghan Taliban - something that India has always maintained.

    The officials, it said, declined to identify the Taliban figures who were released citing the secrecy surrounding US monitoring of the ISI, but said the freed captives were high-ranking Taliban members the US would want in custody.

    US officials, the Post said, think that 'Pakistan continues to pursue a hedging strategy in seeking to maintain relationships with an array of entities - including the US and Afghan governments, as well as insurgent networks - struggling to shape the outcome in Afghanistan, even as it aggressively battles the Pakistani branch of the Taliban.'

    The ISI wants 'to be able to resort to the hard-power option of supporting groups that can take Kabul' if the US suddenly leaves, a US military adviser was cited as saying.

    Pakistani intelligence officials told the Post in Islamabad the ISI was committed to dismantling insurgent groups and denied that any Taliban operatives had been released after being captured.

    The daily said US officials concur that the collaboration between the CIA and the ISI has improved substantially, but say they see ongoing signs that some ISI operatives are providing sanctuary and other assistance to factions of the Taliban when their CIA counterparts are not around.

    CIA officials, according to the Post, think that the ISI's connection to the Taliban is active. But 'it's not clear how high that goes or who knows about it,' a US counterterrorism official was quoted as saying. 'The Pakistanis did a sharp change of policy after 9/11, and it's not certain everybody got the memo - or read it if they did.'
     
  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Taliban interrogations yield useful intel-US

    Interrogations of the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader have started producing useful intelligence on the group and its operations against U.S. forces across the Pakistani border, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

    Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured in the Pakistani port city of Karachi in late January in a joint operation by the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency.

    Direct U.S. access to Baradar, who is in Pakistani custody, was minimal at first. But U.S. officials said the ISI has eased restrictions and American investigators have been participating regularly and directly in interrogation sessions for at least the past month.

    Some of the information given by Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's longtime military commander, has been verified and has been useful to U.S. commanders and intelligence officers and analysts in both Afghanistan and Washington, three U.S. officials involved in the matter said.

    They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue and would not discuss the nature of the information or describe what interrogation methods were used. They said Pakistan was taking the lead.

    "These things take time," one U.S. military official said of interrogating Baradar. "It takes time to get the information and it takes time to check out that information."

    "He started sharing information that is useful," another official said.

    Baradar's arrest was hailed by the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, as a potential game-changing development after eight years of war, although some U.S. officials initially played down the value of the information he gave Pakistani interrogators.

    SIGNS OF TALIBAN DISCORD

    Since his arrest, U.S. military officials have pointed to signs of discord within Taliban ranks that could weaken the insurgency. Baradar, who was close to the group's reclusive chief, Mullah Omar, was the main day-to-day commander responsible for leading an increasingly bloody campaign against U.S. and NATO troops, plotting suicide bombings and other major attacks.

    But many questions about the capture and Pakistan's motivations remain a mystery months later, such as what intelligence led agents to Baradar's location and what prompted the ISI to act against long-time Taliban allies.

    A senior U.S. military official in Kabul described the arrest as part of a power play by Pakistan to ensure it has a major role in any Afghan reconciliation process.


    "I think it's a matter of controlling the dialogue," the official said recently, on condition of anonymity. "It's to ensure that they have a ... principal position in a negotiated settlement here, in resolving this conflict.

    "I know for a fact that that is the position that the Pakistanis want. They want to ensure that they are not without a big voice in the outcome."

    There have been conflicting reports that Baradar might have been talking to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and that may have led to his arrest.

    U.S. and NATO advisers in Afghanistan have urged Karzai not to rush into deals with insurgents as part of a national reconciliation process that they envision may take at least three years.
     

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