Taliban chief hides among Pakistan populace

Daredevil

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Taliban chief hides among Pakistan populace

Eli Lake, Sara A. Carter and Barbara Slavin THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, has fled a Pakistani city on the border with Afghanistan and found refuge from potential U.S. attacks in the teeming Pakistani port city of Karachi with the assistance of Pakistan's intelligence service, three current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

Mullah Omar, who hosted Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders when they plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, had been residing in Quetta, where the Afghan Taliban shura -- or council -- had moved from Kandahar after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Two senior U.S. intelligence officials and one former senior CIA officer told The Washington Times that Mullah Omar traveled to Karachi last month after the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He inaugurated a new senior leadership council in Karachi, a city that so far has escaped U.S. and Pakistani counterterrorism campaigns, the officials said.

The officials, two of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI, helped the Taliban leaders move from Quetta, where they were exposed to attacks by unmanned U.S. drones.

The development reinforces suspicions that the ISI, which helped create the Taliban in the 1990s to expand Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, is working against U.S. interests in Afghanistan as the Obama administration prepares to send more U.S. troops to fight there.

Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran and analyst on al Qaeda and the Taliban, confirmed that Mullah Omar had been spotted in Karachi recently.

"Some sources claim the ISI decided to move him further from the battlefield to keep him safe" from U.S. drone attacks, said Mr. Riedel, who headed the Obama administration's review of policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan last spring. "There are huge madrassas in Karachi where Mullah Omar could easily be kept."

Mr. Riedel also noted that there had been few suicide bombings in Karachi, which he attributed to the Taliban and al Qaeda not wanting to "foul their own nest."

A U.S. counterterrorism official said, "There are indications of some kind of bleed-out of Taliban types from Quetta to Karachi, but no one should assume at this point that the entire Afghan Taliban leadership has packed up its bags and headed for another Pakistani city."

A second senior intelligence officer who specializes in monitoring al Qaeda said U.S. intelligence had confirmed Mullah Omar's move through both electronic and human sources as well as intelligence from an unnamed allied service.

The official said that neither Osama bin Laden nor al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has been spotted in Karachi. The official said the top two al Qaeda figures are still thought to be in the tribal region of Pakistan on Afghanistan's border.

But, the official said, other midlevel al Qaeda operatives who facilitate the travel and training of foreign fighters have moved to the Karachi metropolitan area, which with 18 million people is Pakistan's most populous city.

"One reason, [al Qaeda] and Taliban leaders are relocating to Karachi is because they believe U.S. drones do not strike there," the official said. "It is a densely populated urban area."

Al Qaeda has had a presence in Karachi since at least 2001.

In late 2001, a cell likely commanded by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- the admitted operational planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- abducted and killed journalist Daniel Pearl.

Mohammed, who was captured by the CIA with ISI help in Pakistan in 2003, was sent to the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and is now set to go on trial in New York. In 2007, at a closed military hearing at Guantanamo, he confessed that he personally beheaded Mr. Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter.

Pakistani officials said they were perplexed by the U.S. reports regarding Mullah Omar and denied that the ISI had facilitated a move by the Quetta shura to Karachi.

Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said the U.S. has not provided Pakistan with any credible intelligence regarding Mullah Omar's whereabouts.

"We have no evidence of his presence in Pakistan," Mr. Kiani said. "If anybody in the U.S. government knows of any Quetta shura or Karachi shura, why don't they share that intelligence with Pakistan so we can take care of the issue ourselves? We have not been made aware of any presence of Mullah Omar in the region."

He said the ISI and Pakistani military have "suffered a lot of losses fighting the terrorists" and that "people who are making these accusations have their own agendas."

"Our forces are fighting the Taliban in Waziristan and other areas," he said. "The terrorists are now killing and targeting innocent people in Pakistani cities. ISI is a very professional intelligence agency and these allegations are baseless."

Mr. Kiani added that the U.S. and Pakistan have "24-hour intelligence sharing."

Another Pakistani official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of his work, told The Times, "If Pakistan is made aware of the allegations and we do nothing, then the U.S. will know who to blame. Pakistan can take action with credible information.

"But to shift the blame on Pakistan and the security forces because Afghanistan is becoming more of a problem is not going to be helpful but have a demoralizing effect on the situation both here and there," he said.

Mary Habeck, a professor and analyst on radical Islam at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, said the reported move "suggests the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are one and the same thing."

She said that it also "shows the Taliban are not the marginalized group we have been saying they are. They can move into a major city in Pakistan and believe they are safe there."
 

DaRk WaVe

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May be I am wrong may be I am right, But I have seen that Americans are just too good at leaking sensitive info to media & they love to quote 'unnamed sources' God knows what kind of sources they are any ways.
Americans are confused once they think that co operation & money given to ISI has produced results

It has given hundreds of millions to the ISI, for operations as well as rewards for the capture or death of terrorist suspects. Despite fears of corruption, it is money well-spent, ex-officials say.

Reporting from Washington - The CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan's intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency's annual budget, current and former U.S. officials say.

The Inter-Services Intelligence agency also has collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA program that pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department, officials said.

The payments have triggered intense debate within the U.S. government, officials said, because of long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.

But U.S. officials have continued the funding because the ISI's assistance is considered crucial: Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan's tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.

The White House National Security Council has "this debate every year," said a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official involved in the discussions. Like others, the official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Despite deep misgivings about the ISI, the official said, "there was no other game in town."

The payments to Pakistan are authorized under a covert program initially approved by then-President Bush and continued under President Obama. The CIA declined to comment on the agency's financial ties to the ISI.

U.S. officials often tout U.S.-Pakistani intelligence cooperation. But the extent of the financial underpinnings of that relationship have never been publicly disclosed. The CIA payments are a hidden stream in a much broader financial flow; the U.S. has given Pakistan more than $15 billion over the last eight years in military and civilian aid.

Congress recently approved an extra $1 billion a year to help Pakistan stabilize its tribal belt at a time when Obama is considering whether to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.

The ISI has used the covert CIA money for a variety of purposes, including the construction of a new headquarters in Islamabad, the capital. That project pleased CIA officials because it replaced a structure considered vulnerable to attack; it also eased fears that the U.S. money would end up in the private bank accounts of ISI officials.

In fact, CIA officials were so worried that the money would be wasted that the agency's station chief at the time, Robert Grenier, went to the head of the ISI to extract a promise that it would be put to good use.

"What we didn't want to happen was for this group of generals in power at the time to just start putting it in their pockets or building mansions in Dubai," said a former CIA operative who served in Islamabad.

The scale of the payments shows the extent to which money has fueled an espionage alliance that has been credited with damaging Al Qaeda but also plagued by distrust.

The complexity of the relationship is reflected in other ways. Officials said the CIA has routinely brought ISI operatives to a secret training facility in North Carolina, even as U.S. intelligence analysts try to assess whether segments of the ISI have worked against U.S. interests.

A report distributed in late 2007 by the National Intelligence Council was characteristically conflicted on the question of the ISI's ties to the Afghan Taliban, a relationship that traces back to Pakistan's support for Islamic militants fighting to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

"Ultimately, the report said what all the other reports said -- that it was inconclusive," said a former senior U.S. national security official. "You definitely can find ISI officers doing things we don't like, but on the other hand you've got no smoking gun from command and control that links them to the activities of the insurgents."

Given the size of overt military and civilian aid to Pakistan, CIA officials argue that their own disbursements -- particularly the bounties for suspected terrorists -- should be considered a bargain.

"They gave us 600 to 700 people captured or dead," said one former senior CIA official who worked with the Pakistanis. "Getting these guys off the street was a good thing, and it was a big savings to [U.S.] taxpayers."

A U.S. intelligence official said Pakistan had made "decisive contributions to counter-terrorism."

"They have people dying almost every day," the official said. "Sure, their interests don't always match up with ours. But things would be one hell of a lot worse if the government there was hostile to us."

The CIA also directs millions of dollars to other foreign spy services. But the magnitude of the payments to the ISI reflect Pakistan's central role. The CIA depends on Pakistan's cooperation to carry out missile strikes by Predator drones that have killed dozens of suspected extremists in Pakistani border areas.

The ISI is a highly compartmentalized intelligence service, with divisions that sometimes seem at odds with one another. Units that work closely with the CIA are walled off from a highly secretive branch that has directed insurgencies in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

"There really are two ISIs," the former CIA operative said. "On the counter-terrorism side, those guys were in lock-step with us," the former operative said. "And then there was the 'long-beard' side. Those are the ones who created the Taliban and are supporting groups like Haqqani."

The network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani has been accused of carrying out a series of suicide attacks in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

Pakistani leaders, offended by questions about their commitment, point to their capture of high-value targets, including accused Sept. 11 organizer Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. They also underscore the price their spy service has paid.

Militants hit ISI's regional headquarters in Peshawar on Friday in an attack that killed at least 10 people. In May, a similar strike near an ISI facility in Lahore killed more than two dozen people. Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who served as ISI director before becoming army chief of staff, has told U.S. officials that dozens of ISI operatives have been killed in operations conducted at the behest of the United States.

A onetime aide to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described a pointed exchange in which Kayani said his spies were no safer than CIA agents when trying to infiltrate notoriously hostile Pashtun tribes.

"Madame Secretary, they call us all white men," Kayani said, according to the former aide.

CIA payments to the ISI can be traced to the 1980s, when the Pakistani agency managed the flow of money and weapons to the Afghan mujahedin. That support slowed during the 1990s, after the Soviets were expelled from Afghanistan, but increased after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In addition to bankrolling the ISI's budget, the CIA created a clandestine reward program that paid bounties for suspected terrorists. The first check, for $10 million, was for the capture of Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaeda figure, the former official said. The ISI got $25 million more for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's capture.

But the CIA's most-wanted list went beyond those widely known names.

"There were a lot of people I had never heard of, and they were good for $1 million or more," said a former CIA official who served in Islamabad.

Former CIA Director George J. Tenet acknowledged the bounties in a little-noticed section in his 2007 memoir. Sometimes, payments were made with a dramatic flair.

"We would show up in someone's office, offer our thanks, and we would leave behind a briefcase full of $100 bills, sometimes totaling more than a million in a single transaction," Tenet wrote.

The CIA's bounty program was conceived as a counterpart to the Rewards for Justice program administered by the State Department. The rules of that program render officials of foreign governments ineligible, making it meaningless to intelligence services such as the ISI.

The reward payments have slowed as the number of suspected Al Qaeda operatives captured or killed by the ISI has declined. Many militants fled from major cities where the ISI has a large presence to tribal regions patrolled by Predator drones.

The CIA has set limits on how the money and rewards are used. In particular, officials said, the agency has refused to pay rewards to the ISI for information used in Predator strikes.

U.S. officials were reluctant to give the ISI a financial incentive to nominate targets, and feared doing so would lead the Pakistanis to refrain from sharing other kinds of intelligence.

"It's a fine line," said a former senior U.S. counter-terrorism official involved in policy decisions on Pakistan. "You don't want to create perverse incentives that corrode the relationship."

CIA says it gets its money's worth from Pakistani spy agency -- latimes.com
& on the other hand Americans think that now ISI is protecting Mullah Omer :help:
If they have credible, actionable intelligence, why do they always leak it to Media, Why not tell Pakistan, Are they still not sure about the role of Pakistan & its commitment on WoT,
In late 2001, a cell likely commanded by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- the admitted operational planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- abducted and killed journalist Daniel Pearl.

Mohammed, who was captured by the CIA with ISI help in Pakistan in 2003,
various terror plots were busted because of Pakistan/ISI but the thing is that 'good things' done by ISI are somewhat forgotten & these kinds of allegations without any proof are made
there has been crackdown in Karachi & many militants which escaped before operation in SWA were captured

Mr. Riedel also noted that there had been few suicide bombings in Karachi
Absurd, its is extremely difficult for them to reach Big cities out side NWFP due to Tight security & Karachi has already got Police & Sindh Rangers in action
If u note the location of Recent of bombings you will see they have all been done in Peshawar, Charsada & surrounding areas, This is because its easy for them to reach these areas & do the Job...

 

hit&run

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Absurd, its is extremely difficult for them to reach Big cities out side NWFP due to Tight security & Karachi has already got Police & Sindh Rangers in action
If u note the location of Recent of bombings you will see they have all been done in Peshawar, Charsada & surrounding areas, This is because its easy for them to reach these areas & do the Job...
The reason why Big cities specially Karachi is spared is detailed well in following link.http://pkonweb.com/tag/taliban-in-karachi-ttp-in-karachi/
So i think your assertion that Karachi is better secured because of better police force is less acceptable.
 

DaRk WaVe

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The reason why Big cities specially Karachi is spared is detailed well in following link.http://pkonweb.com/tag/taliban-in-karachi-ttp-in-karachi/
So i think your assertion that Karachi is better secured because of better police force is less acceptable.
My point remains, It is difficult for them to Reach big Cities like Islamabad & Lahore, two Suicide bombers were intercepted on motorway which lead to Lahore, why is that always Peshawar, Charsada & surrounding areas are targeted, Why not Lahore or Islamabad
the link u provided has got date of August, just before SWA operation when there were strings of Bombings there has been a crack down & large number of militants who escaped to different parts of Pakistan including Karachi were arrested along with some Afghan & Uzbek militants


Pakistan police arrest TTP militants in Karachi

Local media reports today quoted Karachi city police chief Waseem Ahmed as saying that the gang was involved in an abortive attack on an oil refinery in Keamari on the night of September 15.

A security guard posted at the gate of the refinery was killed by the attackers. The terrorists, who had come wearing burqa, were forced to flee after an exchange of fire.

The police chief said Akhtar Zaman, who headed the TTP’s Karachi chapter, arranged funds for the terror network in Waziristan tribal region with the help of Samiullah alias Shamim, Fazal Karim and Munawar Khan.

The four suspects were arrested in early last morning raid at Sohrab Goth area in Karachi, Mr Waseem said, adding that the action had averted a major terrorist attack in the city.

The cache of arms, ammunition and explosives seized from their possession included 75 kg of RDX, two suicide vests, an anti-aircraft launcher with one rocket, 17 hand-grenades, five RPG rockets with one RPG launcher, nine detonators, seven mortar missiles, 17 magazines with 240 bullets, four AK-47 rifles and one pistol.

''The terrorists were planning a major attack but the city had been saved from what could have been a major disaster,'' Mr Ahmed said. He said their hit-list included names of senior government functionaries and police officers.
186 Arrested Including Foreigners in Karachi Raids

KARACHI, Pakistan: 186 Arrested Including Foreigners in Karachi Raids, Karachi police have arrested 186 suspects, including foreigners in a raid on Friday.

According to sources, under the direction of senior officials of the police raids were conducted in various areas of Karachi, including Bufferzone.

Other foreigners have also been arrested from a mosque and Madarsa Bufferzone, the sources added.
186 Arrested Including Foreigners in Karachi Raids

186 Arrested Including Foreigners in Karachi Raids
200 foreigners arrested in Karachi raids

KARACHI: Karachi Police has arrested and registered cases against 200 foreigners for violation of Foreign Act during last 24-hours.

According to sources, under the directions of high-level Police officials raids were carried out in various areas of Karachi including Bufferzone, Sohrab Goth, Surjani Town, Malir, Quaidabad, Banaras and SITE.

Seven foreigners have also been arrested from a Mosque and Madarsa in Bufferzone, the sources added.

200 foreigners arrested in Karachi raids
Even if it was something near safe heaven i doubt if its still there, but yet again there is Trust deficit thats why there are such allegations, our COAS has already made clear that instead of leaking this 'credible info' to media, It must be provided to ISI/Pakistan so that action can be taken, As it has been taken before
 

hit&run

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My point remains, It is difficult for them to Reach big Cities like Islamabad & Lahore, two Suicide bombers were intercepted on motorway which lead to Lahore, why is that always Peshawar, Charsada & surrounding areas are targeted, Why not Lahore or Islamabad
the link u provided has got date of August, just before SWA operation when there were strings of Bombings there has been a crack down & large number of militants who escaped to different parts of Pakistan including Karachi were arrested along with some Afghan & Uzbek militants.
Too late to react when most the damage is done.

On Topic: The same article was discussed here in DFI 2 moths back. Mafia network and funding is life line of these insurgents and is still intact irrespective of its disclosure in August!. Nor they are Pro Pakistan neither anti Pakistani in a broader sense.They are powerful mafia. However Karachi Police is more equipped than rest of the states police but still the challenge is largest Illegal population of Pashtun/afghans residing in slums of Karachi. Which is well to do in terms of funding as compre to another larger population in areas like peshawar( Please not with more concentration of PA activity)

Provocative surge in security post SWAT operations was not exclusive but natural or knee jerk reaction to TTP's unexpected aggression. If they are crossing AF - PAK border and finding it difficult to filter through security net then pro military Punjab/Islamabad province(Lahore) attacks(may be few) were not supposed to be well coordinated.

Or
I would like to listen that Pro pakistan Groups Like LeT, JeM etc has joined the likes of TTP now.

Even if it was something near safe heaven i doubt if its still there, but yet again there is Trust deficit thats why there are such allegations, our COAS has already made clear that instead of leaking this 'credible info' to media, It must be provided to ISI/Pakistan so that action can be taken, As it has been taken before.
This how US work, they know ISI is much resilient to such pressures:). Its a war zone and will be a very wild/generalize to comment on such Issues. You never know what kind of operational tactic that would be.
 

bhramos

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ISI is doing this because once the americans and other western nations runaway from A-stan leaving the mess behind them, pakistan will quickly move in with their 'asset' called Mullah Omar to head the islamic emirate of a-stan!

he is being sheltered and preserved for future use!
 

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