An Indian Civilizational Perspective

How Pakistan’s ISI Worked With Al Qaeda Behind Americans’ Backs

Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani journalist, wrote this in 2008 about an incident in 1999. Since then, a lot of attacks have happened including 9-11, 7-7 and 26-11. Interestingly, all could have been anticipated and even pre-empted. But none were.

The extent of Taliban / ISI / jihadist cooperation was revealed during the Indian hostage crisis of 1999, the resolution of which I witnessed first hand. (“Frontline Pakistan”, Zahid Hussain p 61)

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David Headley, an American Taliban, who was caught last year was interrogated by Indian intelligence. The Indian Home Secretary, GK Pillai summed up the relationship and involvement of Jihadis and ISI thus:

“The real sense that has come out from Headley’s interrogation is that the ISI has had a much more significant role to play (in the Mumbai attacks, than was earlier thought). It was not just a peripheral role. They (ISI) were literally controlling and coordinating it (the attacks) from the beginning till the end,” Pillai said at Idea Exchange, an interaction with The Indian Express journalists here.

This is what was known from the known sources as things were happening.

Recently, the site Wikileaks came out with startling documents on its site. These were classified US documents, which clearly brought out the following:

ISI, Al Qaeda, Jihadis and Taliban are intertwined

  • “The documents indicate how ISI officials attend meetings of the Taliban and issue orders to militants. … and report that al-Qaeda, the Taliban and [ex-ISI chief] General Gul plotted to kill President Karzai; and that an ISI officer, Colonel Muhammad Yousaf, directed Taliban leader Maulvi Ezatullah to supervise the assassination plot.” [2]
  • “…the WikiLeaks documents show a continued relationship between the ISI and the Taliban” [3]
  • “The documents, made available by an organization called WikiLeaks, suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.” [4]

Hamid Gul’s continued involvement

Hamid Gul, even as a retired General and ex-ISI chief, is closely involved in negotiations and dealings with Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The documents detail a 2006 meeting with senior Taliban leaders in which Pakistani officials pushed for an attack on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies beside the Pakistan border. An offensive began later that year. The files also link active and retired ISI officers to some of the conflict’s most notorious leaders. According to the reports, in 2007, they sent also 1,000 motorbikes for use in suicide attacks. The reports name former ISI chief General Hamid Gul as a go-between and claim he regularly met al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders to order suicide attacks.

In one classified “threat report”, Gul is described ordering magnetic mines to be planted in snow on roads used by military vehicles.
“Gul’s final comment to the three individuals was ‘make the snow warm in Kabul’ basically telling them to set Kabul aflame,” the report said. [5]

Not only does he still direct / advise and plan for Taliban but he was also providing the logistics support and even critical intelligence, when needed.

On Jan. 5, 2009, the report says, insurgents in the Pakistani tribal zone of South Waziristan met to discuss taking revenge for the death of a Taliban commander killed in a CIA drone attack.

“Also in attendance were three unidentified older Arab males, who were considered important” because they were accompanied by “approximately 20 Arab bodyguards,” said the report, which originated with the U.S. Army’s Task Force Castle engineering group.

“Hamid Gul, a former member of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was in attendance at the meeting also,” the report said. “Hamid Gul was described as being an older man and a very important person from ISI.”

Gul “encouraged (their) leaders to focus their operation inside of Afghanistan in exchange for the government of Pakistan’s security forces turning a blind eye to the presence of (their) commanders and fighters in Pakistan,” the report said.

Gul also had a tip for al-Qaeda and the insurgents: ”The aerial threats in the area were controlled from the airport in Wana,” the largest town in South Waziristan. [6]

The strategy of using a mix of Governmental, Unofficial, and some retired assets to create a foggy situation best aids terror. This is the greatest learning that Pakistani agencies have gotten over the years. And if you play the game right, then you can even get money for undertaking this terror.

Look at the audacity of the terror mind! That, in the entire paraphernalia of terror it has assembled, it uses the cheaper assets as cannon fodder to make money from the Western tax-payers with the party line “We are the only ones who can deal with them”.

The real Pak Terror Nexus can be illustrated as below (Click on image for larger image):

Lessons from Wikileaks

There are many reactions by various people and agencies on what these leaks meant. The owner of Wikileaks of course, doesn’t “want war to be glorified” and so would like to expose the secrets outright. If it helps getting hits to his site, so much the better. Pakistanis are angry. US agencies are angry too because many contact details of intelligence assets on the ground have been made public.

But is that even important?

What is really strange and apalling is that knowing the direct influence, control, abetting, and directing of Terrorists by ISI and its sister agency, the Pakistan Army (Pak officers are deputed to ISI in rotation) – US has refused to touch these two agencies. In fact, it has worked hard to keep them safe! All the while sending their troops in harms way, knowing fully well that the real enemy is safely plotting the killing of these marines using the same weapons and money that their Government gives to these rogues paid for very nicely by the ordinary citizens.

As much as ISI, Jihadis, Pak Army, al Qaeda and Taliban are culprits as they form the largest terror network that the world has ever known – an even greater culprit is the US establishment! It not only continues to cheat the US taxpayers but even the world, while the terrorists plan one massacre after another with complete audacity and nonchalance!

I am not saying that US can withdraw from Afghanistan/Pak area. It cannot until Taliban, Al Qaeda is decimated and ISI/Pak Army put under the complete control of the Government and its terror creating ability is blunted. If US does leave Afghanistan – with Iraq still unsettled – then this huge Terror Network will have a HUGE unchecked and uncontested launching pad from Lahore to Baghdad to strike at any country at will. With the Nukes in its possible sights.

Quite simply, it will be an unmitigated disaster!!

Reference Links:

  1. ISI behind 26/11, from start to end: Home Secy
  2. WikiLeaks Memos Say Ex-ISI Chief Plotted Karzai Assassination
  3. WikiLeaks and the ISI-Taliban nexus
  4. Pakistan’s ISI aids Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: WikiLeaks Afghanistan War Diary 2004-2010
  5. Wikileaks: Pakistan accused of helping Taliban in Afghanistan attacks
  6. The audacity of Hamid Gul

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