Our friend Pakistan?
September 14, 2003 1:55 PM   Subscribe

"Newly declassified US intelligence documents say Pakistan helped Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda group to start its operations in Afghanistan in the 1990s and even secretly ran a major terrorist training camp." The declassified documents were obtained and posted as "The Taliban File" by the National Security Archive, and describe the closeness of al Qaeda and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) before the later lost control. [Via the Agonist and Juan Cole.] [More inside.]
posted by homunculus (16 comments total)
French author Bernard-Henri Levy shared some of his suspicions about Pakistan in a recent WaPo column. Levy is the author of "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?", and suspects that Pearl was killed by al Qaeda on behalf of the ISI because he discovered that the two groups are still intertwined.

Mansoor Ijaz, a financier who has spent years tracking bin Laden's operations, recently told the Guardian that the Pakistani government is fully aware of bin Laden's location, but has deliberately refrained from capturing him.
posted by homunculus at 1:56 PM on September 14, 2003

Ahmed Rashid documents this quite clearly in his book "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia" from 2000.
posted by filchyboy at 2:00 PM on September 14, 2003

I really must read Rashid's book one of these days. I've read about the ISI's connections to the Taliban and al Qaeda before, but "The Taliban File" has more details than I've seen before. And if Levy is right, it sounds like little has changed.

Speaking of Rashid, here's a recent piece he wrote in Outlook India: Who's Winning The War On Terror?
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on September 14, 2003

I'm so confused, all this news makes my head hurt. Hey, isn't it the new television season yet?
posted by Nelson at 2:18 PM on September 14, 2003

Yeah, yeah - didn't the CIA help bin Laden in Afghanistan against the Russians at some point?
posted by bkdelong at 2:30 PM on September 14, 2003

bkdelong: Yup. And guess who they used as their proxy to do so. Hint: Pakistani secret service with three letters.
posted by Eloquence at 2:44 PM on September 14, 2003

AFAIK, there was no CIA-bin Laden connection in the 80's. Bin Laden was rather anti-american even then, despite the US's assistance to Afghan groups.

Some US weapons and funding may have reached bin Laden through a very roundabout way but was never done directly.
posted by pandaharma at 3:15 PM on September 14, 2003

SY HERSH: There was about a three or four nights in which I can tell you maybe six, eight, 10, maybe 12 more-- or more heavily weighted-- Pakistani military planes flew out with an estimated-- no less than 2,500 maybe 3,000, maybe mmore. I've heard as many as four or 5,000. They were not only-- Al Qaeda but they were also-- you see the Pakistani ISI was-- the military advised us to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. There were dozens of senior Pakistani military officers including two generals who flew out.
And I also learned after I wrote this story that maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on the those evacuations. We allowed them to evacuate. We had an evacuation.
JANE WALLACE: How high up was that evacuation authorized?
SY HERSH: I am here to tell you it was authorized — Donald Rumsfeld who — we'll talk about what he said later — it had to be authorized at the White House. But certainly at the Secretary of Defense level.
JANE WALLACE: The Department of Defense said to us that they were not involved and that they don't have any knowledge of that operation.
SY HERSH: That's what Rumsfeld said when they asked him but it. And he said, "Gee, really?" He said, "News to me." Which is not a denial, it's sort of interesting. You know,
JANE WALLACE: What did we do that? Why we would put our special forces guys on the ground, surround the enemy, and then-- fly him out?
SY HERSH: With al Qaeda.
JANE WALLACE: With al Qaeda. Why would we do that, assuming your story is true?
SY HERSH: We did it because the ISI asked us to do so.
JANE WALLACE: Pakistani intelligence.
SY HERSH: Absolutely.
SY HERSH: Yeah. That's why. You asked why. Because we believe Musharraf was under pressure to protect the military men of — the intelligence people from the military, ISI, that were in the field. The Pakistanis were training the Taliban, and were training al Qaeda.

old Seymour Hersh interview on PBS, still interesting
posted by matteo at 4:27 PM on September 14, 2003

Um, I'm prety sure I read all about this 2 years ago, after 911.
Why is this news (again)?

Besides, I always have to chuckle when cloak & Dagger stuff like this is in the news . I mean, by the very nature of the "game", whats to be believed?

Sure some of the Pakis are in bed with the enemies of the US, sure some have given away nuclear secrets.

If you were the shrub, how would you handle those in Pakistan, those that do want to side with America's interests? I'm not sure there's any other way to deal with this situation.
posted by Fupped Duck at 4:48 PM on September 14, 2003

Fupped Duck - First of all, I wouldn't make the grotesque strategic blunder - of dramatically increasing the ranks of those who hate the US - by invading Iraq while simultaneously convincing most non-US observers (especially Iraqis and most Muslims) that the US under the Bush Administration could care less about true Iraqi democracy.

".....by the very nature of the "game", whats to be believed?" - spoken like a true solipsist. So - by your reasoning (it seems to me) we can know nothing about the true programs and intentions of powerful nations; we are living in a dystopia then. What can we do about it? - Your argument seems to imply that we are both clueless and helpless. yesss....helpless and clueless, nasty hobbits. clueless and helpless!......we'll deal with them, precioussss, yes we will.....
posted by troutfishing at 6:50 PM on September 14, 2003

Does anyone not know that for the longest time -- and even past 9/11 -- the Taleban was the darling of Pakistan's Intelligence Service?

I thought that was a matter of public record.
posted by clevershark at 8:18 PM on September 14, 2003

The Pakistanis have helped North Korea with their bomb program and Iran with theirs. We obsess about Iran going nuclear, when there's an Islamic nation with nuclear weapons, effectuating Axis of Evil members #2 and 3's arrival in the nuclear club. If we are attacked on US soil with a terrorist delivvered nuclear device, it will come from rogue elements from within the Pakistani nuclear program. Unless Musharraf is killed or deposed--then it will come from the next Pakistani government itself. There's the foreign government most involved in the 9/11 attack--even more than Saudi Arabia.
posted by y2karl at 8:55 PM on September 14, 2003

Why is this news (again)?

I thought that was a matter of public record.

Well, sure, I didn't mean to imply that this is a grand revelation. What I found interesting were the details in these documents, for example that Masoud may have been about to warn us about 9/11. I hadn't heard that before. And I found Ijaz's claims about bin Laden and Levy's allegations about the ISI and Pearl interesting and very troubling.

And what y2karl said.
posted by homunculus at 9:02 PM on September 14, 2003

Daniel Pearl and the Paymaster of 9/11: 9/11 and the Smoking Gun That Turned on its Tracker by Chaim Kupferberg and The Role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence (ISI) in the September 11 Attacks by Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa.

War and Globalisation - The Truth Behind September 11, by Michel Chossudovsky notes that...before, during and after September 11, 2001... various members of the Bush Administration; Secretary of State, Colin Powell, State Department, Richard Armitage and Marc Grossman, CIA Director, George Tenet all met with Pakistan's Chief Spy [of the ISI], General Mahmoud Ahmad, who ordered $100,000.00 be transferred by Omar Saeed Sheikh [later accused of killing Daniel Pearl] to Ring leader of the 9/11 attacks, Mohammed Atta.

Ironically, US Representative Porter Goss and Senator Bob Graham. who hosted the mysterious breakfast meeting on September 11 - were eventually put in charge of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees to investigate the terrorist attacks and the so-called 'intelligence failures".

Quite a few questions are asked and discussed at this site.
posted by alicesshoe at 10:58 PM on September 14, 2003

There's the foreign government most involved in the 9/11 attack--even more than Saudi Arabia.

Speaking of Saudi Arabia: "Senate Intelligence Committee leaders said on Friday they would not seek to make public a section of the report into the Sept. 11 attacks that dealt with whether there was Saudi support for the hijackers."
posted by homunculus at 11:13 PM on September 14, 2003

There is no doubt that ISI had a deep interest with the Taliban and an extension of this was relationship with not only Al Qaeda but also most other factions of the Mujahideen. For years ISI had been pushed into the Afghan-Soviet war and encouraged and inspired into doing this not only as a national duty but also a religious one. I don't expect for the human element in an intelligence agent to cut ties based on emotional context. Secondly, it was a long standing military strategy to keep the Afghan - Pakistan border as friendly as possible. This would have helped in case a war with India would have gone out of control and the Pakistan forces lost ground. Since the Pakistan forces don't have enough land depth, the strategy was to pull back closer to Afghanistan and then stage a fight back. Thirdly, Pakistani intelligence is not paid a lot. What keeps them working is the emotions of the job. A strong sense of protecting the nation and doing all it needs.

In that context, its no news that the ISI and Taliban were/are close. I find the comments that Pakistan is sharing nuclear secrets with Iran and Korea very hilarious. Being from Pakistan, I know what the Pakistani people have gone through to get here. Their priority is to protect these assets on all costs and I don think they would do any thing to invite an attack similar to Israel's on Iraq.
posted by adnanbwp at 8:05 AM on September 15, 2003

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