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Entries in ISI (12)

Thursday
Oct062011

Doctor Who Helped US Find Osama bin Laden May Hang

AFP/Getty Images(ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan) -- The Pakistani commission probing the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May has recommended that a doctor who helped the CIA find the al Qaeda leader be tried for treason.

Dr. Shakil Afridi allegedly conducted a fake vaccine program on behalf of U.S. intelligence, going door-to-door in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden lived in a high-walled compound, in hopes of collecting DNA samples. The New York Times reported in July that an American official said Afridi was able to get access to the bin Laden family's compound but did not get DNA samples from bin Laden family members and did not see the al Qaeda leader.

The commission is questioning Afridi, who worked for the local government and who was arrested after the May 2 Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden, in hopes of learning more about the free vaccination program he launched prior to the raid.

In a statement, the commission said "prima facie, a case of conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason is made out against him," and that "case under relevant law" should be mounted against him. If convicted of treason, Afridi could hang. The commission, headed by a former Pakistani Supreme Court justice, also includes a former U.N. diplomat, a retired general and a former police official.

The commission is investigating both how the U.S. was able to raid bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, which is close to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, without detection, and also how bin Laden was able to hide in the city. The bin Laden residence was less than a mile from Pakistan's leading military academy.

In July, a CIA spokesperson declined to comment to ABC News on the alleged vaccination program. On Thursday, a U.S. official told ABC News that the U.S. has "repeatedly" asked the Pakistani government to release Afridi.

Bin Laden, his son and two other men were killed during the May 2 raid. Relations between Pakistan and the U.S. were strained by the raid, which was not disclosed to Pakistani officials beforehand. Bin Laden is believed to have lived in his Abbottabad compound for more than five years, adding to U.S. suspicions that Pakistani authorities were protecting bin Laden and other Islamist militants.

After the SEAL raid, over a period of several weeks in May and June, Pakistani authorities rounded up a handful of people who helped the CIA find and kill bin Laden, according to Pakistani and U.S. officials. Afridi has been detained by the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, since late May.

The commission has also interviewed the widows and children of Osama bin Laden, and has called for the lifting of travel restrictions on them. Pakistani authorities had taken custody of more than a dozen bin Laden family members after the raid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Before Lashing Out, US and Pakistani Intel Reached Out to Insurgent Group

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Eleven days ago, the United States' top military official seemed to sum up Washington's current relationship with Pakistan when he accused the country's premier intelligence service of supporting insurgents who attacked the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

But what Admiral Mike Mullen did not say is that the U.S. had secretly met with a member of that same insurgent group -- known as the Haqqani network -- as part of efforts to find a political end to the war in Afghanistan, and that the institution that helped set up the meeting was the same intelligence agency he had condemned: the Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence, or I.S.I.

The meeting, according to two current U.S. officials and a former U.S. official, was held in the months before the Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO's military headquarters, which U.S. officials have blamed on the Haqqani network. In his congressional testimony Sept. 22, Mullen called the Haqqanis a "veritable arm" of the I.S.I., but failed to mention that the I.S.I. facilitated the meeting between the U.S. and Ibrahim Haqqani, a son of founder Jalaluddin Haqqani and a major player in the group, according to a senior U.S. official.

The meeting suggests there is much more to the recent spat between Islamabad and Washington while the violence in Afghanistan has increased as U.S. troops have begun to withdraw. At stake, U.S. officials said, is how they will try to reduce the violence in Afghanistan and to what extent Pakistan will be allowed a say.

From Pakistan's point of view, military and intelligence officials have long argued that their connections with the Haqqani network -- going back decades in the Pakistani tribal areas and in Afghanistan -- can facilitate the only way to end the war: through political negotiation. But for U.S. officials, even as the debate in Washington continues over the best way to wind down the war, there was a high-level decision after the embassy attack to name and shame the I.S.I. for supporting the Haqqanis, hoping it would work where no previous pressure or incentives placed on Pakistan had worked, according to a senior Western official.

The very public criticism of the I.S.I. was also a sign of American military frustration.

One official said that it was Pakistan's intelligence service that urged the U.S. to hold the meeting. The U.S. agreed, the I.S.I. set it up, and then the meeting took place -- but then violence launched by the Haqqanis increased and targeted the heart of Western power in Kabul, infuriating the U.S.

The U.S. was also enraged by what seemed to be either apathy or connivance in the single most violent attack of the war as far as injuries to U.S. soldiers. Three days before the embassy bombing, a truck bomb blew up outside an American base outside Kabul, injuring 77 soldiers. Just days before that, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, had made his first visit to Pakistan's military headquarters. During the visit, according to a separate senior U.S. official, he asked Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Pervez Ashfaq Kayani to try to stop a truck bomb that the U.S. believed was about to target U.S. soldiers. Kayani offered to help, the official said, but the bomb blew up anyway. Allen's request was first reported by The Guardian.

The fact that the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence service set up the meeting with Haqqani and discussed how to stop a Haqqani attack suggests a much more nuanced -- and very often confounding -- relationship with Pakistan's intelligence service than Adm. Mullen and other military officials have publicly admitted in the last two weeks.

The Pakistanis, in turn, have tried to portray themselves as the victims of a smear campaign headed by Mullen. As Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari wrote in the Washington Post Friday, "While we are accused of harboring extremism, the United States is engaged in outreach and negotiations with the very same groups."

Complicating matters is the deteriorating relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan officials have jumped on American criticism of Pakistan to threaten to cut off bilateral attempts to make peace. President Hamid Karzai, responding to massive pressure from political parties that have long opposed the Taliban, has slightly changed his tune on Pakistan in the last two weeks.

Up until the assassination of former President Burhannudin Rabbani on Sept. 20, Karzai was the most vocal Afghan proponent of a strong bilateral relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. As early as one year ago, a senior advisor told ABC News that Pakistan could "help deliver a peace that the U.S. can't."

But since Rabbani's death, Karzai has criticized the Pakistani government for not helping the peace process. In a nationally televised speech Monday night, he repeated that criticism and named the many Afghan officials believed to have been targeted by Pakistan-based militants. Still, he said he hoped the two "brotherly" countries could work together.

U.S. officials are trying to encourage the bilateral relationship and reschedule a tripartite meeting about Afghan reconciliation that was scheduled for Oct. 8, but has been indefinitely postponed by Karzai. U.S. diplomatic officials argue that without a robust dialogue between all three countries, there is little chance that the violence in Afghanistan will reduce.

But still, they admit they have little to show for efforts to find a political settlement to the war.

Asked whether the meeting with Ibrahim Haqqani meeting produced any results, a U.S. official responded with a one-word answer: "no."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Obama Administration Plays Down Pakistan-Terror Link

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House hasn't fully endorsed the view of the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that ties Pakistani's spy agency to a militant group that launched an attack on Kabul, Afghanistan two weeks ago.

Adm. Mike Mullen told a Congressional panel last week that Pakistan's controversial Inter-Services Intelligence agency provided support to the Haqqani network that has been blamed for attacks on American interests in Afghanistan including the U.S. Embassy.

Mullen said the Haqqanis are a "veritable arm" of the ISI, which has been accused of both supporting and opposing terrorist activity.

Pakistan has denied the charge, while White House spokesman Jay Carney pushed back slightly from Mullen's accusation Wednesday, saying it is "not language that I would use."

However, Carney did add that the Obama administration believes the ISI has some ties to the Haqqanis, a group often associated with al Qaeda.

Asked about Mullen's comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wouldn't say whether she agreed with his assessment, insisting that the Pakistani government is still an ally of the U.S. in fighting Islamic militants.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen Says Pakistan 'Exporting Violence'

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Appearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen maintained their hard-line stance that Pakistan has to do more to rein in the Haqqani Network that uses safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border to launch attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Mullen even went so far as to say that Pakistan is "exporting violence" and that Pakistan's intelligence agency provided the Haqqanis with support for their recent terror attacks in Kabul.

Mullen went further than defense officials who've said that the Haqqani Network was responsible for the recent terror attacks in Kabul prior to former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani's assassination, although the bomber's affiliation has yet to be determined.

The Haqqanis are "veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency [ISI]," he said in opening remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding that it had provided the Haqqanis with support to conduct the Kabul attacks.

"With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted the truck bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy," Mullen said of the recent attack on a base in Wardak that wounded 77 U.S. soldiers. "We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28 attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations."

Both Mullen and Panetta described the turn to high-profile attacks in Afghanistan as a shift in tactics because insurgents are losing on the battlefield. Mullen said they are "as much about headlines and playing on the fears of a traumatized people, as they are about inflicting casualties, maybe even more so."

He added, "We must not misconstrue them. They are serious and significant in shaping perceptions but they do not represent a sea change in the odds of military success."

Mullen said Pakistan's government has chosen to "use violent extremism as an instrument of policy," which jeopardizes its relationship with the United States and its role as a player in the region.

Panetta said that in recent high-profile meetings with Pakistani officials, U.S. officials have conveyed "a very clear message to them and to others that they must take steps to prevent the safe haven that the Haqqanis are using.

"We simply cannot allow these kinds of terrorists to be able to go into Afghanistan, attack our forces, and then return to Pakistan for safe haven and not face any kind of pressure from the Pakistanis for that to stop."

Panetta called the existence of safe havens "not tolerable" and "unacceptable," and said continued U.S. pressure on Pakistan's leaders was the only way they would get that message. "The only way to deal with the Pakistanis, " he said, "is to keep giving them a clear message of where the lines are. "

Panetta declined to reveal what options the United States might have available to prevent the Haqqanis from conducting more attacks against U.S. forces, as he said last week, but said they would not be a surprise to Pakistan.

Thursday's hearing was Panetta's first congressional appearance since becoming defense secretary in July. It is also Mullen's final appearance before his term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ends next Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep052011

Pakistanis Arrest Three al Qaeda Members Based on US intelligence

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- U.S. and Pakistani military officials announced the arrest Monday three members of al Qaeda based on U.S. intelligence in the southwestern city of Quetta.

"This is an example of the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan in fighting terrorism, which has taken many terrorists off the battlefield over the past decade," said Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in a statement released Monday afternoon.

"We applaud the actions of Pakistan's intelligence and security services that led to the capture of a senior al-Qa'ida operative who was involved in planning attacks against the interests of the United States and many other countries."


A senior military official says the three were taken into custody by the Inter-Services Intelligence and local paramilitary troops more than a week ago. The U.S., the official says, has not been given access to interrogate them.

The most significant arrest is Younis Al Mauritani, who has been described by U.S. officials in the past as helping plan attacks on the West.

In a statement, the Pakistani army says al Mauritani “was tasked personally by Osama Bin Ladan to focus on hitting targets of economical importance in United States of America, Europe and Australia. He was planning to target United States economic interests including gas/oil pipelines, power generating dams and strike ships/oil tankers through explosive laden speed boats in International waters.”

The other two arrested are Abdul Ghaffar Al Shami, also known as Bachar Chama, and Messara Al Shami, also known as Mujahid Amino.

The fact the Pakistanis are admitting they did this with U.S. help suggests they believe talking publicly about working with the CIA is more acceptable than it would have been just a few months ago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

Pakistani Intelligence Chief Heads to US

Photos [dot] com/George Doyle/ Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) -- Pakistan's top intelligence agency -- left for the U.S. on Wednesday for a one-day visit with his American counterpart to discuss intelligence matters.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since U.S. Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan back in May and killed the al Qaeda leader.

Pakistan has asked the U.S. to reduce its military presence in the country and has restricted visas to its officials. The U.S., on the other hand, recently announced it was suspending aid to Pakistan after bringing to light evidence some in the ISI were tipping off terrorists before raids. In turn, Pakistani representatives threatened to pull its troops from the lawless border with Afghanistan where Al Qeada operatives have found refuge.

A military official said the purpose of Pasha's visit "is to bring the relationship back on track" and to "ease the tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan."

The ISI chief is also expected to discuss future intelligence cooperation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul072011

US Official: Pakistani Government 'Sanctioned' Journalist's Murder

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen said Thursday the Pakistani government "sanctioned" the killing of a critical Pakistani investigative journalist, becoming the first high-ranking official to make the public allegation.

The tortured body of Syed Saleem Shahzad was discovered in late May, days after he published an exclusive report which suggested al Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistani navy. Months before, Shahzad had told colleagues and a Human Rights Watch researcher that he felt personally threatened by the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI.

The New York Times reported earlier this week the Obama administration had seen intelligence that directly linked the agency to the murder.

Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday, "I have not seen anything to disabuse that the government knew about it. [But] I cannot, I would not be able to walk in and say, here's the string of evidence I have to confirm it."

Mullen said he could not confirm the ISI in particular had anything to do with the killing, but he was "hugely concerned" about the death.

At the time of Shahzad's death, Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, visited his home to offer condolences and told reporters there it was possible the journalist was killed over a personal matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun152011

Pakistan Arrests Informants Who Helped CIA Find Bin Laden

CNN via Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan's intelligence agency has arrested a handful of Pakistanis who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden, ultimately leading to the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader in Abbotabad last month, according to senior U.S. and Pakistani officials.

In all, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, rounded up about five people -- including the owner of the CIA safe house used to spy on bin Laden and a doctor who is an active duty major in the Pakistani military.  The Pakistani military, however, denied that a major was detained.

"There is no army officer detained and the story is false and totally baseless," the agency said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May112011

US Eager to Interrogate Bin Laden's Widows

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pakistan is still resisting attempts by U.S. intelligence to interview the three widows of Osama bin Laden who were staying with the al Qaeda leader during the raid on his compound by Navy SEALs on May 1.

While the White House had demanded access to the three women, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency won't even permit American officials to study their interrogation reports of the widows.

A Pakistani security official, familiar with the situation, says the three wives were likely sequestered with bin Laden at the compound in Abbottabad for years.  It's also been reported that there were as many as 13 children there, including eight children of bin Laden, one of who was killed during the operation.

But even as Pakistan's ISI seems reluctant to share any information, U.S. officials have doubts that the widows will be able to shed much light on what their late husband might have been planning in terms of future al Qaeda plots against the U.S. or other foreign interests.

If bin Laden followed strict Islamic code, the women would have been cloistered and not allowed to speak with men outside their family.  It's also doubtful that his widows were privy to bin Laden's business or operational dealings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May102011

Pakistani Media 'Outs' CIA Station Chief in Islamabad

CIA [dot] gov(ISLAMABAD) -- In its haste to get back at the U.S. for not providing advance word about the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, a Pakistani TV network apparently divulged the identity of the CIA's current station chief in Islamabad, which was followed by the publication of the name in a right-wing newspaper.

The CIA station chief is a vital intelligence post because that person helps to coordinate the unmanned drone attacks against suspected militants hiding out in Pakistan's shared border with Afghanistan.  It's also believed the operative had prior knowledge of the operation in Abbottabad that killed bin Laden.

Asked about the matter, the private ARY TV's news director said he did not press the reporter about who the source of his information was "because I have confidence in him."

However, it's assumed that someone within Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency was the likely source.  A U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity said, "We suspect it's retaliation.  That's certainly one of the most plausible explanations for it."

This would be the second time in the past six months that the identity of the CIA station chief in Islamabad was made public.  Last December, an official with those duties was recalled back to the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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