Thursday, March 19, 2015

CIA's Ex Officer Michael Scheuer Talks About Pakistan's ISI

There continues to be a concerted effort by some western and Indian governments and the mainstream media to demonize the ISI, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan.  Some Pakistanis, particularly Pakistani liberals, are also part of this anti-ISI campaign.

To put unrelenting attacks on the ISI in perspective, let's read some excerpts from an interview of  ex CIA officer and chief Bin Laden hunter Michael Scheuer on ISI, and watch the following video:

1. ISI is like all other intelligence services--like the Australian service or the American service.

2. ISI works for the interest of their country, not to help other countries.

3. The idea that ISI is a rogue organization is very popular--and even the Pakistanis promote it---but having worked with ISI for the better part of 20 years, I know the ISI is very disciplined and very able intelligence agency.

4. Pakistanis can not leave the area (AfPak) when we (Americans) do. They have to try and stabilize Afghanistan with a favorable Islamic government so they can move their 100,000 troops from their western border to the eastern border with India which---whether we like it or not, they see as a bigger threat.

5. We (US) have created the mess in South Asia and the Pakistanis have to sort it out. Our (US) problems in Afghanistan are of our own making.

6. Al Qaeda has grown from just one platform (Afghanistan in 2001) to six platforms now.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Israel Envy: Has Modi Stepped Up Covert War Against Pakistan?

Dr. Christine Fair Compares BJP with KKK

India's Hostility Toward Pakistan

Jihadis Growing

Michael Scheuer: Marching Toward Hell

Debunking Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative


Riaz Haq said...

"Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done."

That was Defense Secretary Robert Gates' straight talk in response to the phony outrage by Senator Patrick Leahy on the news of Pakistan arresting 5 CIA informants following Osama bin Laden's killing by US Navy Seals in Abbotabad.

Here is the text of the exchange between Gates and Leahy during the US Senate hearing on Pakistan that began with Leahy asking Gates how long the U.S. will be willing to "support governments that lie to us?"

GATES: Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.

LEAHY: Do they also arrest the people that help us when they say they're allies?

GATES: Sometimes.

LEAHY: Not often.

GATES: And -- and sometimes they send people to spy on us, and they're our close allies. So...

LEAHY: And we give aid to them.

GATES: ... that's the real world that we deal with.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Robert Grenier, US CIA Station Chief in Islamabad, on ISI Pakistan, in an interview with Pakistani journalist Nasim Zehra:

"If I were Pakistani, I would have done exactly what Pakistan did to conduct nuclear tests after the Indians did the same in 1998 in spite of the US sanctions"

"CIA and ISI had little cooperation between 1999 and 2001 but very close cooperation after 911"

"My experience is that the ISI is not a rogue organization. They are very disciplined military organization and they follow their orders"

"Pakistan cooperated with US at the cost of instability at home"

"Taliban is not a creation of Pakistan but of the environment. Pakistan did support them after they were created"

"False and unchecked allegations from dubious sources (Northern Alliance) against Pakistan against his advice were believed in Washington that embittered CIA-ISI ties"

"There was close cooperation between US and Pakistan on the ground but the US excluded Pakistan at the political and policy level"

Riaz Haq said...

Former Maharashtra IG SM Mushrif revealed in his book "Who Killed Karakare?" that it is a "power establishment" that is in charge of India, and it does not want to expose the Hindutva terrorists. One example is the blasts in Samjhauta Express, which the IB said was carried out by Pakistan’s ISI. Mushrif quotes a report in The Times of India that said, “the Center had blamed the ISI on the basis of the IB’s findings.” However, during a narco-analysis test under Karkare, Lt. Col. Purohit had admitted having supplied the RDX used in the blast. The IB, which draws its power from its proximity to the Prime Minister (its director briefs the PM every morning for half an hour), did not want Karkare’s investigation that blew the cover off the IB’s shenanigans, to continue.

Riaz Haq said...

The Indian media has missed the major implications of the latest Snowden disclosures. It is not simply that India is one of the countries, or that the BJP is one of the political organisations under NSA surveillance. The real question is how is the NSA carrying out this surveillance? The answer to that lies in another piece of the puzzle that is now public – India is one the 33 countries that has “3rd party” agreement that allows NSA access its telecom and internet network subject to this intelligence being shared. In other words, India is providing NSA access, while NSA decides what it will share with Indian government – or deem what is fit to be viewed by Indians. If we recall, India's former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon had complained earlier that the issue is not that the NSA is spying on Indians, but that they are not sharing their data. This appears to be our only complaint!
Recently, the Washington Post published a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Order dated July 16, 2010 listing all the countries including India and the six political organisations, (one of which was the BJP) that could be put under NSA surveillance. As India is one of the countries that has signed the 3rd party agreement with the US, this enables the NSA to directly access the Indian telecommunications and Internet network. No wonder, all the officials and ministers of the UPA government downplayed the NSA surveillance on Indians. We were fully a party to our being spied upon!
The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is very clear on what constitutes foreign intelligence – it includes all economic and political information that may be of interest to the US in conduct of its foreign policy. That is why the Indian delegations to the G20 summit, the climate change summit and the WTO Bali ministerial were all under NSA surveillance. The US always knew the positions of the Indian delegation in any negotiations. Any senior official up to the PM is therefore fair game. The difference is that instead of protecting such individuals from foreign spying, we are making it even easier by granting them access to our network.

The initial round of Snowden disclosures had given the extent of spying that NSA was carrying out in India. According to The Hindu report by Glen Greenwald and Shobhan Saxena (Sepetmber23, 2013) in March 2013, the NSA “collected 6.3 billion pieces of information from the Internet network” and “6.2 billion pieces of information from the country’s telephone networks”. Even then, people were interested to know how was it possible for NSA to have secured such a large volume of data from India's telecom and internet network? Though foreign telecom companies – Verizon, AT&T and Vodafone -- are undoubtedly involved (Home Ministry reports), that alone is not sufficient to explain the huge amount of data that NSA is syphoning off from the Indian network.
What is now clear is that lacking the ability to spy on our people, the Indian security agencies were willing to barter our privacy to NSA's for “sharing” its intelligence. This is the essence of the third party agreement. This is why Shiv Shankar Menon's complaint, which stated in so many words is that let us not worry about the NSA accessing our networks, but only about their sharing the “intelligence goodies” with us.

Riaz Haq said...

The Indian media has missed the major implications of the latest Snowden disclosures. It is not simply that India is one of the countries, or that the BJP is one of the political organisations under NSA surveillance. The real question is how is the NSA carrying out this surveillance? The answer to that lies in another piece of the puzzle that is now public – India is one the 33 countries that has “3rd party” agreement that allows NSA access its telecom and internet network subject to this intelligence being shared. In other words, India is providing NSA access, while NSA decides what it will share with Indian government – or deem what is fit to be viewed by Indians. If we recall, India's former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon had complained earlier that the issue is not that the NSA is spying on Indians, but that they are not sharing their data. This appears to be our only complaint!
Recently, the Washington Post published a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Order dated July 16, 2010 listing all the countries including India and the six political organisations, (one of which was the BJP) that could be put under NSA surveillance. As India is one of the countries that has signed the 3rd party agreement with the US, this enables the NSA to directly access the Indian telecommunications and Internet network. No wonder, all the officials and ministers of the UPA government downplayed the NSA surveillance on Indians. We were fully a party to our being spied upon!
The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is very clear on what constitutes foreign intelligence – it includes all economic and political information that may be of interest to the US in conduct of its foreign policy. That is why the Indian delegations to the G20 summit, the climate change summit and the WTO Bali ministerial were all under NSA surveillance. The US always knew the positions of the Indian delegation in any negotiations. Any senior official up to the PM is therefore fair game. The difference is that instead of protecting such individuals from foreign spying, we are making it even easier by granting them access to our network.

The initial round of Snowden disclosures had given the extent of spying that NSA was carrying out in India. According to The Hindu report by Glen Greenwald and Shobhan Saxena (Sepetmber23, 2013) in March 2013, the NSA “collected 6.3 billion pieces of information from the Internet network” and “6.2 billion pieces of information from the country’s telephone networks”. Even then, people were interested to know how was it possible for NSA to have secured such a large volume of data from India's telecom and internet network? Though foreign telecom companies – Verizon, AT&T and Vodafone -- are undoubtedly involved (Home Ministry reports), that alone is not sufficient to explain the huge amount of data that NSA is syphoning off from the Indian network.
What is now clear is that lacking the ability to spy on our people, the Indian security agencies were willing to barter our privacy to NSA's for “sharing” its intelligence. This is the essence of the third party agreement. This is why Shiv Shankar Menon's complaint, which stated in so many words is that let us not worry about the NSA accessing our networks, but only about their sharing the “intelligence goodies” with us.

Riaz Haq said...

Surveillance in Pakistan
More than 70 per cent of the country's population has mobile phone subscriptions, and an estimated 11 per cent of the population uses the internet, the report said. This makes surveillance in Pakistan advanced and comprehensive as there are currently 50 operational internet providers and five mobile phone operators.

Some of the interception of Pakistani phone networks has been unlawful, the report claims. A case at the Supreme Court pertaining to phone tapping showed that the ISI allegedly tapped 6,523 phones in February, 6,819 in March and 6,742 in April this year.

The Pakistani military and intelligence have allegedly received high levels of funding from governments abroad in order to develop an advanced surveillance infrastructure due to the country's role in countering insurgents and Islamist groups. The report claims that agencies within the government went forward with mass storage and capture of communications of ordinary citizens. On the other hand, in the past they had mainly referred to tactical military surveillance tools.

The report also claims that the Peshawar school attack in 2014, which claimed 150 lives, has been cited as a reason to increase surveillance of communications in the country and popular support for it is high.

The report stated that Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) requires all Internet Service Providers (ISP) to provide the authority with information on their clients. As an anti-terrorism measure, PTA allegedly ordered all phone service providers and ISP to ban virtual private networks (VPN) and encryption. Banning their use has a negative impact on, journalists and sources for instance, to safely communicate information pertaining to public interest, the report elaborates.

The report claims that the PTA's licensing requires all phone service providers to make their networks ‘lawful interception-compliant’. This allows them to have access to their data.

Pakistan's cooperation in international surveillance
The government of Pakistan is known to be the largest recipient of funds from the NSA and it is allegedly involved in surveillance against its own citizens, the report claims. Pakistan is also NSA's third party partner, which means that the relationship between the two is considered to be long-term, involving “higher degrees of trust” and “greater levels of cooperation”.

The report adds that the NSA would “willing to share advanced techniques…in return for that partner’s willingness to do something politically risky”.

Pakistan's relationship with the NSA is valued to the extent that the US agency allegedly maintains a ‘special collection service’ at its embassy and consulates in Pakistan, the report claims.

Pakistani phone service providers such as Telenor, Warid, Ufone, Mobilink and Pakistan Telecommunications Limited (PTCL) have allegedly provided legal interception access and monitoring centres over the years.

Recommendations to defence committee, foreign companies and governments
The report also contains recommendations on how Pakistan may be able to shift from its current surveillance model to one that is not a threat to democracy and complies with human rights laws.

It recommends the senate committee on defence to carry out an investigation into NSA's surveillance in Pakistan and the legality of their actions, as well as the extent of arrangements made between the country's intelligence agencies and the NSA. Furthermore, it recommends that the committee should also conduct an investigation into GCHQ's alleged access to the Pakistan Internet Exchange.

To foreign companies the report recommends periodic reviews of the government's use of technology sold to them and decline further maintenance or updates if ultimately the use is not in accordance to contractual obligations. It further says that usage should be made clear in contractual agreements which include human rights safeguards and safety against unlawful usage.


Riaz Haq said...

A.S. Dulat, Former Head Of #India’s Spy Agency #RAW, Believes #Pakistan’s #ISI Is Tops … via @ValueWalk

While affection might be a strong word for his feelings for Pakistan’s (the Directorate for) Inter-Service Intelligence, but admiration was certainly on display from the former spy master.

“The most powerful intelligence agency is either KGB which no more exists or ISI, because they are very anonymous.”

“I believe we’re as good as anybody else. We don’t have technical abilities but are fast catching up,” he said backtracking a bit and praising India’s own intelligence agencies.

Considering a world inhabited by MI6, the CIA, Mossad, and others, that’s pretty high praise.

Dulat versus ISI in Kashmir

Earlier this year, in July specifically, Dulat made it clear that intelligence agencies had, for year, paid politicians, militants and separatists in Indian Kashmir in order to keep up with ISI efforts to foment trouble in the region.

“So what’s wrong? What is there to be so shocked or scandalized by. It’s done the world over,” Dulat said when he was speaking to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt.

In his book, Dulat further explained his methods without issue, and as he has said repeatedly, violating any Indian state secrets.

“If anybody …has any doubts about the path I took – of talking, talking, talking – and how unbeatable dialogue is as both a tactic and a strategy then I will tell them what Agha sahib (Kashmiri educationatist Agha Ashraf Ali) said to me — you were sent to disrupt the Kashmir movement in the friendliest possible manner.”

But as Dulat is quick to point out, his successes were, generally short lived as nearly all of the assets he developed were “bumped off” by ISI.


Both RAW and the ISI were formed based on the failures of intelligence agencies that preceded them. Each were formed with an agenda but, few would argue, the ISI’s reach and power far surpasses that of RAW.

The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) came into being following the disgraceful performance of the leftover Intelligence Bureau during both the Sino-Indian War in 1962 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. It was decided that RAW’s formation would supplant the Intelligence Bureau and become the primary agency responsible for foreign intelligence gathering in India.

RAW has been rightfully credited in its work secreting the Indian nuclear weapon program from the world as well as its safeguarding today. While the agency has enjoyed numerous successes since its inception, the attacks on Mumbai in 2008 showed both India and the world that detection and prevention are two different animals.

Riaz Haq said...

#Musharraf never double-crossed #US: SaysRobert Grenier, Ex #CIA Station Chief in #Islamabad Pakistan …

Former CIA top spy in Pakistan has conceded that General (r) Pervez Musharraf never double-crossed the Americans in the aftermath of 9/11.

“I can say with good authority that General Musharraf never double-crossed us,” Robert Grenier, former Islamabad station chief of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) told Daily Times in an interview. Several American journalists, analysts and politicians had repeatedly accused Musharraf of playing both sides, just to stay relevant in the eyes of the world superpower. After the US Marines’ raid to kill Osama bin Laden, another former CIA official Bruce Riedel had claimed that Gen Musharraf knew where the al Qaeda chief was hiding. Though, Riedel was quoting former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general, Ziauddin Butt.

Grenier is visiting Pakistan after 11 years to promote local publication of his book “88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary.” After his assignment in Islamabad, he spearheaded CIA operations, in Iraq, to topple Saddam Hussein. He also worked at CIA’s Counter Terrorism Centre. He was reportedly fired by then CIA chief Porter Goss, after he opposed the torturing of captured al Qaeda operatives. He also testified against Lewis Scooter Libby, adviser to former vice president Dick Cheney, who was accused and later sentenced for leaking the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame.

Grenier recounted how at several occasions Gen Musharraf went the extra mile to help the Americans. He claimed it was Gen Musharraf who had made explicit instructions to powerful ISI to extend full cooperation to the CIA whether it was about convincing Mullah Omar expel bin Laden from Afghanistan or capturing important al Qaeda leaders. He was given the task of running CIA Islamabad station several months before 9/11. “Despite my request, I could not meet then DG ISI Gen Mehmood. He was too busy digging up corruption cases against (deposed prime minister) Nawaz Sharif,” he revealed.

On page 58 of his book, Grenier termed the ISI “an infamous organisation.” Asked to elaborate his position on the ISI, he took a diametrically opposite view and denied his own words. “What I wrote was merely a set perception about the ISI in the world. That was not my estimation. Throughout in my book I praised the role and services of the ISI,” he said. Grenier said the most important catches from Pakistan were Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, popularly known as KSM and Abu Zubeyda, two key al Qaeda leaders. He refused to comment on who had pocketed big bounties the Americans were offering on al Qaeda operatives.

The former CIA station chief sent an important memo to Washington in September 2001, which he described as the most important three-hour work of his entire 27-year career. In that memo he recommended covert operations in Afghanistan enabling Northern Alliance and Pushtun tribal leaders topple Taliban regime.

Riaz Haq said...

The Spooks of Pakistan
How could bin Laden’s ‘secret’ compound in Abbottabad have gone undetected? Was the ISI deceitful or merely incompetent? Maxwell Carter reviews “Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan” by Hein Kiessling.

The ISI was established in 1948, the year after Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which authorized the CIA to coordinate, evaluate and disseminate American intelligence. The nascent Pakistani government created the ISI within months of partition, partly to address the mistakes of the First Kashmir War with India, and partly, Mr. Kiessling suggests, to tend the dying embers of the “Great Game,” the contest between Great Britain and Russia for primacy in Central and South Asia. Maj. Gen. Walter Joseph Cawthorne, an Australian holdover from the Raj, drew up its organizational structure. The original mandate of the ISI, which was initially comprised of Muslims formerly in the Indian Intelligence Bureau, was restricted to reconnaissance in India and Kashmir.

A domestic remit wasn’t long in coming. General Ayub Khan’s military coup in 1958 expanded the ISI’s responsibilities to monitoring and suppressing internal dissent. Even so, Ayub favored its peer organizations, the Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence, referring to the ISI witheringly in his diary: “ISI were nearly asleep . . . we are babes in intelligence.” The ISI’s blunders under Ayub included misjudging support for his opponent in the 1965 election; failing to uncover various anti-Ayub conspiracies; and, above all, its Bay of Pigs-style “fiasco,” Operation Gibraltar.

In 1965, the ISI plotted to send “groups of armed men, disguised as freedom fighters, to infiltrate Kashmir and carry out a campaign of sabotage in the territories under Indian occupation.” Gibraltar (along with its second phase, code-named Grand Slam) was calamitous, exposing Pakistan’s logistical and military shortcomings. The 17-day conflict brought “only significant losses and no territorial gains,” writes Mr. Kiessling.

The ISI survived the resulting military inquiry and redoubled its internal efforts for General Yahya Khan, who deposed Ayub in 1969, and his successor, Z.A. Bhutto, who assumed the presidency in December 1971. Both would live to regret the ISI’s domestic intriguing. Once again, in 1970, its election predictions proved inaccurate: The Awami League’s near-sweep in East Pakistan (contemporary Bangladesh) led to civil war and Yahya’s early retirement. The ISI would subsequently be linked by the Pakistani press to Bhutto’s overthrow and, later, to his infamous hanging in 1979 at the behest of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the Islamist general who ruled from 1977-1988.

The ISI’s greatest undertaking took shape under Zia. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 brought the CIA and ISI into strategic alignment. Over the next decade, the CIA provided arms and funds, while the ISI recruited, coached and handled mujahedeen insurgents. The Soviets were expelled in 1989, but creeping distrust and Zia’s mysterious plane crash in 1988 marred the outcome. By then, the CIA had become disaffected by ISI corruption, and Pakistan’s civilian leadership post-Zia—namely the freshly elected prime minister, Z.A. Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir—was out of the loop.

Riaz Haq said...

Information Operations: It Takes a Thief

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday on foreign cyber threats to the U.S., there were several references to the saying that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” The point, made by DNI James Clapper, was that the U.S. should not be too quick to penalize the very espionage practices that U.S. intelligence agencies rely upon, including clandestine collection of information from foreign computer networks.

But perhaps a more pertinent saying would be “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”

U.S. intelligence agencies should be well-equipped to recognize Russian cyber threats and political intervention since they have been tasked for decades to carry out comparable efforts.

A newly disclosed intelligence directive from 1999 addresses “information operations” (IO), which are defined as: “Actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one’s own information and information systems.”

“Although still evolving, the fundamental concept of IO is to integrate different activities to affect [adversary] decision making processes, information systems, and supporting information infrastructures to achieve specific objectives.”

The elements of information operations may include computer network attack, computer network exploitation, and covert action.

See Director of Central Intelligence Directive 7/3, Information Operations and Intelligence Community Related Activities, effective 01 July 1999.

The directive was declassified (in part) on December 2 by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, and was first obtained and published by

Riaz Haq said...

#NSA's spying on #Trump's #Russia links are showing how #America's Deep State really works. #FlynnResignation

America's intelligence agencies aren’t operating outside the law – they’re using the vast power they’ve acquired within it.

We know now that the FBI and the NSA, under their Executive Order 12333 authority and using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as statutory cover, were actively monitoring the phone calls and reading text messages sent to and from the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.Although the monitoring of any specific individual is classified TOP SECRET, and cannot be released to foreigners, the existence of this monitoring in general is something of an open secret, and Kislyak probably suspected he was under surveillance.But a welter of laws, many of them tweaked after the Snowden revelations, govern the distribution of any information that is acquired by such surveillance. And this is where it’s highly relevant that this scandal was started by the public leaking of information about Mike Flynn’s involvement in the monitoring of Kisylak.The way it’s supposed to work is that any time a “U.S. person” — government speak for a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, even a U.S. company, located here or abroad — finds his or her communications caught up in Kislyak’s, the entire surveillance empire, which was designed for speed and efficiency, and which, we now know, is hard to manage, grinds to a halt. That’s a good thing. Even before Snowden, of course, the FBI would “minimize” the U.S. end of a conversation if analysts determined that the calls had no relevance to a legitimate intelligence gathering purpose. A late night call to order pizza would fall into this category.But if the analyst listening to Kislyak’s call hears someone identify himself as an agent of the U.S. government — “Hi! It’s Mike Flynn” certainly qualifies — a number of things have to happen, according to the government’s own rulesAt this stage, the actual audio of the call and any transcript would be considered “Raw FISA-acquired information,” and its distribution would be highly restricted. At the NSA, not more than 40 or so analysts or senior managers would be read into the classification sub-sub compartment that contains it, called RAGTIME-A,B,C D or P, where each letter stands for one of five different categories of foreign intelligence.For anything out of the ordinary — and this qualifies — the head of the National Security Division would be notified, and he or she would bring the raw FISA transcript to FBI Director James Comey or his deputy. Then, the director and his deputy would determine whether to keep the part of the communication that contained Flynn’s words. The NSA has its own procedures for determining whether to destroy or retain the U.S. half of an intercepted communication.In this case, there were three sets of communications between Flynn and Kislyak, at least one of which is a text message. The first occurs on Dec. 18. The last occurs on Dec. 30, a day after sanctions were levied against people that the Russian ambassador knew — namely, spies posing as diplomats.The factors FBI Director Comey and his deputy would have had to consider in this case are complex.

Riaz Haq said...

This #Pakistan Spy Ring Exclusively Recruits #Hindu Boys With Saffron Links. #BJP #India #ISI

On November 12 last year, Jammu and Kashmir police nabbed two people — Dadu and Satvinder Singh — in RS Pura for allegedly spying on military installations. There seemed to be nothing extraordinary about it. After all, 22 other Pakistani spies had been caught in 2016.
But as intelligence agencies began looking at the source of their funds, they stumbled upon a unique, self-sustaining model of finance, based on a telecom fraud, the likes of which they had not encountered in any spy case earlier.
The extent of the fraud that fuelled ISI’s spy network, and possibly its terror cells in India, has been calculated to be over Rs 30,000 crore.
This model, unlike direct hawala routes that spies and terrorist organisations were known to thrive on earlier, generates money from Indian victims who are conned by ISI’s Indian recruits, using Indian telecom services and Indian banks.

Investigators looking into the Pakistani spy ring case have unearthed the involvement of people with remarkably different backgrounds.
From Gulshan Kumar, who worked with the NATO on complex military technology in Afghanistan, to Balram Singh, a young boy from a far flung village in Madhya Pradesh who flaunted his association with the Bajrang Dal did not even complete his matriculation.
But there is one thing that has surprised intelligence officers.
Though the involvement of Hindus working for Pakistani spies or working as their facilitators has been established before, intelligence officers have never found a network of financers to foreign intelligence comprising almost exclusively of Hindus.

Some of them, who’ve been identified and arrested in this case, were card-carrying members of BJP and RSS affiliates like the Bajrang Dal. Many others didn’t hold official memberships but were closely associated with mainstream and fringe Hindu groups.
These were the people who worked directly with Pakistani handlers to fund ISI spies and possibly sleeper cells of terror groups.
And that is not all. Anti-terrorist squads of more than one state are also probing links of the arrested people to Naxals extremists from Bihar and Chhattisgarh. A secret note prepared exclusively by the ATS for the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has highlighted the background of Manoj Mandal, the latest one arrest in the case from the ‘Naxal-affected’ region of Jamui in Bihar.
A senior ATS officer in Madhya Pradesh, who was part of the team that monitored and carried out most of the arrests made in this case, says investigations have unearthed a network which is way greater than anything they’ve ever seen or handled.

Riaz Haq said...

Meet 'The Brothers' (Dulles Brothers) Who Shaped U.S. Policy, Inside And Out

Stephen Kinzer on NPR Radio

On the Dulles' ability to overthrow regimes in Iran and Guatemala but not in Cuba or Vietnam

They were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it's very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it.

Actually, one of the people who happened to be in Guatemala at the time of the coup there was the young Argentine physician Che Guevara. Later on, Che Guevara made his way to Mexico and met Fidel Castro. Castro asked him, "What happened in Guatemala?" He was fascinated; they spent long hours talking about it, and Che Guevara reported to him ... "The CIA was able to succeed because this was an open society." It was at that moment that they decided, "If we take over in Cuba, we can't allow democracy. We have to have a dictatorship. No free press, no independent organizations, because otherwise the CIA will come in and overthrow us." In fact, Castro made a speech after taking power with [Guatemalan President Jacobo] Árbenz sitting right next to him and said, "Cuba will not be like Guatemala."

Now, [Vietnamese Communist leader] Ho Chi Minh was not establishing an open society ... the fact is, he had a dictatorship, he had a closed, tyrannical society, and that made it much more difficult for the CIA to operate. So we find this irony that if [Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad] Mossadegh and Árbenz had been the tyrants that the Dulles brothers portrayed them as being, the Dulles brothers wouldn't have been able to overthrow them. But the fact that they were democrats committed to open society made their countries vulnerable to intervention in ways that Vietnam and particular North Vietnam then were not.

On how things might have been different had the Dulles brothers not intervened

It's quite possible, even likely, had the Dulles brothers not been [in Vietnam] or had acted differently, there never would've been an American involvement in Vietnam at the cost of a million lives and more than 50,000 Americans. Guatemala wouldn't have suffered 200,000 dead over a period of 35 years in the civil war that broke out after they intervened in Guatemala and destroyed democracy there. Iran fell under royal dictatorship and then more than 30 years of fundamentalist religious rule as a result of the Dulles brothers' operations. Had they not intervened in Iran we might've had a thriving democracy in the heart of the Muslim Middle East. ...

So you look around the world and you see these horrific situations that still continue to shake the world, and you can trace so many of them back to the Dulles brothers.

Riaz Haq said...

Two new books on Pakistan’s ISI and its ‘War for National Survival’


Former DIA Senior Intelligence Analyst Owen L. Sirrs’ Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence Directorate: Covert Action and Internal Operations is the strongest of the pair. Sirrs traces ISI’s “existential war for national survival” to the trauma of Partition, highlighting how many of Pakistan’s early military and intelligence leaders survived the dangerous trek to the new country. The ISI, a “start-up operation born out of a collapsed empire,” leveraged its ties with the CIA to build the capabilities it used to support covert action operations in neighboring India and Afghanistan. Sirrs’ discussion of the transformational role of the Afghan Program — from the early support to Islamists in 1973 through the 1991 creation of the Taliban — is strong, as are his descriptions of how Islamization undermined ISI internal discipline.

Sirrs works to “puncturing the myth of ISI as a ‘rogue’ agency operating beyond the knowledge and consent of national authorities.” He makes a convincing case that ISI operates under firm GCHQ (General Headquarters) control. I suspect, though, that Sirrs overestimates civilian leaders’ access and influence over ISI operations. Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, and others tried to harness ISI against their enemies, but these attempts to manipulate the service fall far short of reliable control. With so little transparency into Pakistan’s civil-military relations, we are forced into a form of Kremlinology, weighing competing claims by players with every reason to spin.


The other book, Hein G. Kiessling’s Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan, could have been extraordinary. Kiessling lived in Pakistan for nearly two decades and had direct access to most former ISI Director Generals. He covers the same history as Sirrs (also dismissing allegations that the “strictly led and managed” service conducts rogue operations). In contrast to Sirrs’ chronological march through ISI’s development, Kiessling’s narrative veers between ISI’s organization, historical controversies, and personality clashes among military and civilian leaders. His on-the-record interviews of former ISI Directors, including the reclusive General Mahmood Ahmed, highlight service leaders’ continuing suspicions over civilian leaders’ competence and goodwill.

Unfortunately, Kiessling undermines his account with unsourced judgments and a low threshold for conspiracy theories. He dismisses accounts of ISI kidnappings and assassinations as political propaganda, proposes an unusually low estimate of ISI personnel strength, and asserts that “all fingers point towards the Americans” in the unsolved mystery of the 1988 plane crash that killed Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq and U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel. Kiessling’s stated premise is that ISI is the unjustified target of “frenzied and often ill-informed discussion” and conspiracy theory, while the rival Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is “largely let off the hook.”

In attempting to address this perceived imbalance, Kiessling allows his sources’ whoppers to go unchallenged. Thus, he republishes an ISI statement that the well-documented civilian disappearances in Baluchistan are either (a) nonexistent; (b) terrorists KIA, their bodies hidden by partners-in-crime; or (c) “mentally retarded individuals, who leave their homes and move to other parts of the country.” Elsewhere he cites claims that 9/11 was “an inside job.” The result is an unfocused narrative with some new insights, but one I would hesitate to consider reliable.

Riaz Haq said...

The Pakistani military has responded to a charge of having links to armed groups in South Asia, arguing that it is the job of intelligence agencies to maintain such connections, but rejected the notion that Pakistan supported groups such as the Afghan Taliban.

Please understand, 'having links', and 'supporting' [armed groups] are two different things," said Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military's spokesperson, at a press conference in the northern garrison city of Rawalpindi.

"Name an intelligence agency of any country that does not have links [to armed groups]. Everyone does. If you have the links to finish the threat, then that is a positive contribution."

Ghafoor was responding to comments made on Tuesday by General Joseph Dunford, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency maintained links to armed groups.

"It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups," he said, referring to groups that are actively engaged in the Afghan conflict, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

Ghafoor stressed that while the connections may exist, that did not constitute support.

"[US officials] did not say that the ISI is supporting [armed groups]," the Pakistani general said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs also denied that Pakistan was supporting armed groups in neighbouring Afghanistan or on its soil.

"We have time and again rejected these allegations. Pakistan has done enough to erase the footprint of terrorism from its soil through indiscriminate counterterrorism operations against all terrorist outfits," said spokesperson Nafees Zakaria at a separate press briefing.

Riaz Haq said...

Directorate S by Steve Coll review – the US v al-Qaida and the Taliban
This sequel to Ghost Wars might well become the definitive account of the CIA and America’s secret wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

by Rafia Zakaria

Directorate S, from which the book gets its title, lies buried deep in the bureaucracy of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), Pakistan’s spy agency. Ensconced thus, the directorate works to “enlarge Pakistan’s sphere of influence in Afghanistan”. It goes about this task, Coll explains, by supplying, arming, training and generally seeking to legitimise the Taliban, the AK-47 toting terrorists who took over Afghanistan in 1992, stringing up decapitated corpses in town squares and shoving women into the confines of their homes. Nobody paid much attention then, and perhaps never would have, had the Taliban not become host to Osama bin Laden.

Directorate S takes readers deep into the malevolent intrigues of spycraft with its cast of colourful characters: there is the Dunhill smoking spy chief Ashfaq Kayani; the fitness-obsessed, water-guzzling General David Petraeus; special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who calls his diplomacy “jazz improvisation”; not to mention such Taliban commanders as Omar, who makes off over the Pakistan border on a motorbike. The latter’s escape, Coll astutely notes, was a “lost opportunity”; had he been caught, it could have changed everything. The more notorious missed opportunity is the escape of Bin Laden from the Tora Bora cave complex a few months later. Coll recounts that, too, with fascinating details. For instance, just as General Tommy Franks is setting up a plan to get Bin Laden, a demanding Donald Rumsfeld calls and asks to see within the week war plans for the invasion of Iraq. For the Americans, it seems, Afghanistan was both a constant and an afterthought.

Directorate S provides telling background descriptions with just as much skill. When US soldiers run into an abandoned school for al-Qaida suicide bombers, they find that “the recruits studied in concrete rooms” the walls of which “were painted with murals of the afterlife”, in one “channels of milk and honey” and in another “paintings of virgin girls”. At the CIA, the Counter-Terrorism Center analysts hunt terrorists huddled over “low-grade industrial carpeting, cookie-cutter Government cubicles” in large rooms that are “poorly lit and smell sour”. In an attempt at relief, “someone had mounted fake windows looking out on beaches and palm trees”. Fantasy, it seems, is the fuel of both endeavours.

Then there are the absurdities: the supposedly indelible ink that washed off when Afghans went to vote in their first postwar election; the drone operators who hope dogs jump off the trucks at which they are about to fire missiles; and the mass of blunders that has killed 140,000 people but that US Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) commanders still describe as “a war to give people a chance”. In the 15-year story that Directorate S tells, Afghanistan has been built a bit and bombed a lot, the Taliban have been fought with and then courted, the Pakistanis embraced then abandoned. What the British tried to document in Curzon’s day the Americans refused to learn; there is indeed trouble on the Frontier again, and in Directorate S we have the definitive account of it.

Riaz Haq said...

After 16 Years, Afghanistan War Is 'At Best A Grinding Stalemate,' Journalist Says

by Terry Gross

"Most of the generals ... say in public, 'There's no military solution to this war,'" Coll says. "This is at best a grinding stalemate. And yet, we prioritize military action at the expense of diplomacy, at the expense of negotiating."

On the current state of the war in Afghanistan

We're in a stalemate. We're in a muddle. We have something like 10,000 troops there, maybe growing a little higher over the next year or so.

There are actually two wars that we're fighting in Afghanistan, I'm not sure most Americans appreciate that. One is a direct combat war against remnants or elements of the Islamic State that have popped up in eastern Afghanistan. There President Obama initiated, and President Trump continued, a return to direct combat in Afghanistan, after previously, at the end of 2014, saying we were done with the war.

The second war is the one that we transitioned to in 2014, which is to advise and assist the Afghan security forces — the Afghan army and police — in their combat against the Taliban, an indigenous Afghan movement that we're all too familiar with after all these years, which controls significant swaths of the Afghan countryside.

So our muddled war policy is that we're directly at war with the Islamic State, but we're not directly at war with the Taliban, except to the extent that we're supporting Afghan forces. But what that means as a practical matter is that we're their air force; we have the planes. So when the Afghan forces need bombs dropped on Taliban positions, that's generally us doing the bombing. The number of bombs that we've been dropping on Afghanistan has increased significantly in 2017 over the year before.

On why Pakistan supports the Taliban

Pakistan's generals seemed to conclude ... that Afghanistan was going to become an ally of India with international backing [and] that they needed to encourage the Taliban support. ...


What's happened, where we are now, is that there are 25,000, 30,000 Afghan Taliban guerrilla soldiers fighting the war, going in and out of Pakistan, but fighting the war on Afghan ground. Those units include these suicide bomber, truck bomber units that occasionally kill scores of innocent civilians in Kabul, as we've seen over the last couple of weeks, a couple of horrific attacks.

And then inside Pakistan, the effort by the Pakistani Taliban to overthrow their government has really faltered. The Pakistani state has restored security over the last couple of years to a significant degree. Not entirely — I think 500 civilians died in terrorist attacks in Pakistan last year — but [that's] compared to many thousands a few years ago, when the country looked like it might collapse.

Riaz Haq said...

The US intel agencies do influence internal American politics to help or hurt politicians and political parties

The most common way is to leak intelligence and plant stories in the media

That’s why Trump and Democrats both fear them

An example of what I’m talking about emerged when Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer was asked by Rachel Maddow about Trump’s spurning of the agencies’ findings. Trump is “taking these shots, this antagonism, this taunting to the intelligence community,” Maddow pointed out. The response by Schumer—who has been in Congress since 1980, and in the Senate leadership for ten years, and presumably knows his way around Washington—should send a chill through the heart of every American:

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So, even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.

Some may argue that Trump is not serving his country well by not giving more respect to the intelligence community. But whether or not that is true, if it’s really the case that dissing the intelligence community might result in retaliation by that community against a politician, then the lines of power in our political system have become dangerously distorted.

It’s not clear what the “six ways from Sunday” are that Schumer has in mind. Presumably they could range from antagonistic leaks, to concrete actions overseas to undermine a president’s foreign policy, to darker forms of sabotage and blackmail. Certainly we have seen some of these behaviors in our nation’s history. And it’s worth remembering that our spy agencies are professionals at manipulating and interfering with governments—though all such activities are clearly illegal if applied within the United States or to U.S. persons.

It’s possible that Schumer was being flippant or over-dramatic. He may have meant simply that they might continue to try to make Trump look bad by releasing their intelligence findings to the public—something they ought to do more regularly. But this is not the first time we’ve seen suggestions that our spy agencies are becoming an independent political force. In January 2014, for example, in the middle of a steady drumbeat of Snowden revelations, President Obama was preparing a speech to address the subject. The New York Times, in a story on the upcoming speech, wrote the following:

The emerging approach, described by current and former government officials who insisted on anonymity in advance of Mr. Obama’s widely anticipated speech, suggested a president trying to straddle a difficult line in hopes of placating foreign leaders and advocates of civil liberties without a backlash from national security agencies.

To me this was a deeply disturbing piece of reporting. Naturally Obama, like all presidents and indeed all politicians, had to navigate among competing interests. As America’s foreign policy leader, he had to worry about the opinions of foreign leaders and nations. As a politician, he naturally had to weigh the concerns of liberal civil libertarians, who were a part of his core political constituency in the Democratic Party, as well as conservative civil libertarians, who were part of his citizenry, and the Congress.

But, the Times reported, he was also concerned about a “backlash from national security agencies.”

Similarly, in a 2009 story published shortly before Obama was inaugurated, the Times reported that Obama was “reluctant” to authorize investigations into torture under the Bush administration. His administration, the paper noted,

will face competing demands: pressure from liberals who want wide-ranging criminal investigations, and the need to establish trust among the country’s intelligence agencies. At the Central Intelligence Agency, in particular, many officers flatly oppose any further review and may protest the prospect of a broad inquiry into their past conduct.

Riaz Haq said...

Jason Chaffetz: The Deep State is real – I've seen it up close and it's far worse than you can imagine

With each successive batch of text messages released between then-FBI agent Peter Strzok and then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, the evidence supporting a politically motivated Deep State within the federal government spills out into the open.

Based on my own experience, this particular set of text messages is the tip of the iceberg. While serving on the House Oversight Committee, I saw firsthand how those in control of our bureaucracy brazenly abuse their power – spying, manipulating and misleading – in an effort to perpetuate their stranglehold on the government.


My first run-in with the Deep State happened weeks after the Benghazi terrorist attacks of September 11, 2012. In an encounter highlighted in my book, I went face-to-face with a lawyer sent to Libya by Hillary Clinton’s State Department to act as a spy and ensure I did not ever get to the truth of what happened on that tragic night.

When I refused to allow this State Department lawyer to participate in a briefing for which his security clearance was insufficient, he immediately called Clinton Chief of Staff and fixer Cheryl Mills to demand entrance to the meeting. His real purpose was to intimidate witnesses from being candid with a congressman.

I won that battle and got the information I sought. But the effort to speak to witnesses, review documents, and debunk the ridiculous and false narratives told by political appointees and perpetuated by their Deep State allies was an uphill battle.

Even with a select congressional committee empaneled to investigate, Congress was never able to pry from the Deep State many of the documents that would have confirmed or refuted the damning testimony of Benghazi’s heroes.

Spying is just one trick up the sleeves of politicized bureaucrats. Powerful senior staffers with authority to classify, resist disclosure, and subvert oversight have perfected other strategies to avoid transparency and accountability.

The Deep State manipulates congressional investigations by pretending to cooperate with document subpoenas. Those who are part of the Deep State bury congressional committees in piles of paper ostensibly responsive to the investigation, and then brag to the media about the number of pages they have turned over.

In reality, many of those pages will either be fully redacted, duplicates of other pages, or irrelevant to the investigation.

The media then dutifully report that the agency has turned over thousands of pages – yet the public gets no answers. Meanwhile, the documents that would actually tell the American people the truth never see the light of day.

Misleading the public about the nature of documents sought either by Congress or through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests is another art the Deep State has perfected. Agencies employ lawyers specifically to find reasons to withhold documents.

In one May 2014 hearing, a TSA sensitive security information director testified that upon being hired, attorneys and FOIA processors trained him to hide information.

The director testified that he was told: “If you come across embarrassing information or whatever, (the chief counsel) will just hide it and come up with an exemption; because if you cover it with a FOIA exemption it’s so hard for the other person to challenge it, and it will be costly and difficult for them to challenge it, and they’re probably never going to see it anyway, so you just get away with it. That’s the way it’s done.”

There are solutions, which I outline in my book. But before we can address solutions, we have to acknowledge the problem.

The Deep State is not just a conspiracy theory. No less than our very system of separation of powers and checks and balances is at stake.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Army and ISI retired generals gave away sensitive nuclear weapon information to hostile intelligence agency

The Pakistan Army officers are named Lt. General Javed Iqbal Awan(R) and ISI Brigadier Raja Rizwan Ali Haider(R)

ISI Brigadier Raja Rizwan Ali Haider(R) kidnapped by ISI henchmen from Islamabad sector G-10, street-17
ISI Brigadier Raja Rizwan Ali Haider(R)

Lt. General Javed Iqbal Awan(R)

Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal Awan is from Chakwal and son of a Major and his elder brother retired as a colonel.|Gen Javed Iqbal Awan started his education from Military College Sarai Alamgir Jhelum where he was a average to just pass class student.

He joined Pakistan Army and passed out with merit and joined 9 Battalion of Frontier Force Regiment.He always held highest andn top most appointments due to his outstanding networking and links and remained as instructor In Pakistan Military Academy, Command n Staff College and then remained as 111 brigade commander as a Brigadier. As a Major General ,He commanded infantry division at Bahawalpur, Infantry division at Jhelum and then remained as Director General Military Operations at GHQ. As Lieutenant General he remained as Adjutant General Pakistan Army n then commanded corps at Bhawalpur. At the same time he remained as colonel Commandant of Frontier Force Regiment which is also an Honour.

Lt. GENERAL JAVID IQBAL AWAN recently got retired from Pakistan Army in May 2015.He was settled in Rawalpindi and got arrested by the counter intelligence wing on the ISI in Aug-Oct 2018 timeframe for leaking secret information to a hostile foreign intelligence agency. He came into knowledge of official secrets during his tenure as Pakistan Director General Military Operations

Riaz Haq said...

The chief spokesperson of Pakistan’s armed force revealed on Friday that two senior servicemen had been arrested and facing investigations for espionage charges.

“Two senior military officials are under custody on charges of espionage. They are not part of a network and the army chief has ordered their court martial,” said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor while addressing an especially convened news conference in Islamabad.

The military spokesperson said the arrested officials were not part of any network and facing court martial charges in separate cases.
The arrests indicated a robust accountability system in place in the armed forces, he added.

Maj-Gen Ghafoor also said that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani had been found guilty of violating the military code of conduct.

Riaz Haq said...

British PM Margaret Thatcher banned "Spycatcher" book by a retired MI5 officer talking about how British intelligence manipulated elections and domestic politics in UK

Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, by Peter Wright. New York: Viking Penguin. 392 pp. $19.95. CAN the Western democracies, committed to open governance and the citizen's right to know, learn to rein in their intelligence services, whose watchwords are secrecy, aggressiveness, and unaccountability?

The answer thus far is no. Consider the revelations about the abuses of power that have characterized the frequent CIA scandals, from the Bay of Pigs in 1961 to the Iran-contra operation.

Consider also the uproar in Britain caused by the Thatcher government's injunction against Peter Wright's ``Spycatcher.'' The book contains a three-page bombshell: the accusation that fully 30 of his fellow MI5 (domestic counterintelligence) officers were plotting in 1974 to topple Harold Wilson's Labour government by leaking allegations to the Conservatives regarding Mr. Wilson's - purported - pro-communist sympathies and associates.

This charge against MI5 is not new: Wilson, having resigned, made it openly in 1977. Nor is intelligence manipulation of elections entirely new: The Conservative landslide in 1924 owed much to a Red-baiting intelligence leak to the press of the so-called ``Zinoviev letter'' from Moscow. Wright, however, is attacking from the inside and the far right, while offering leads regarding ``the Gang of Thirty'' that British journalists are now pursuing. Mrs. Thatcher blocked press publication of excerpts from ``Spycatcher'' until she won the general election: A dozen lawsuits and countersuits were filed. While the book is being peddled in London unofficially, the House of Lords moved last week against the British Court of Appeal, which had lifted the injunction, and major newspapers are still forbidden to report on the book in any detail.

By asserting that an MI5 cabal intended to subvert the political process, Wright is mocking at ``fair play'' and ``the gentlemanly consensus'' of British life. Forget the myths, he insists: Hardball is MI5's favorite sport. Witness the important details he adds to our scanty knowledge of British plots to assassinate Nasser during the 1956 Suez crisis. And witness MI5's readiness in early 1959 to hunt down and kill Colonel Grivas, the greek Cypriot guerrilla leader. Though Wright suggests that MI5 quit the assassination business after 1960, the charges against it in Northern Ireland now cannot be ignored.

Abuse of power, that supremely American theme that excites attention and sales, is marginal, however, to ``Spycatcher.'' Wright's heart is in the Great Mole Hunt. The search for Soviet spies in British intelligence has boiled and simmered since Burgess and Maclean - forewarned - fled to Moscow in 1951.

The defection of Kim Philby in 1963, the uncovering of Anthony Blunt in 1964, various intelligence failures of that decade, all shocked many MI5 officers, Peter Wright very much included. There was jeering from the CIA and the FBI, which the British for so long had patronized. Wright and his dissident friends began their hunt, questioning hundreds of people over the years, and concluding that Roger Hollis, the director of MI5 from 1956 to 1965, was a Soviet spy, the much-celebrated ``fifth man,'' who had helped bring British intelligence - perhaps Britain itself - to its sorry state.

Riaz Haq said...

From Spycatcher to prime minister: the Malcolm Turnbull I knew
This article is more than 3 years old
Richard Norton-Taylor reported for the Guardian on the UK government’s 1987 attempt to ban a former MI5 officer’s memoirs in Australia. Here he recalls a young lawyer in the case

We knew Malcolm Turnbull as the cocky pom basher. Or rather, the bright young lawyer who humiliated the British establishment.

For the best part of six weeks in a Sydney courtroom 30 years ago, he ran rings around witnesses struggling, at Margaret Thatcher’s behest, to ban the publication of Spycatcher, the memoirs of the former MI5 officer Peter Wright.

Encouraged by the trial judge, Philip Powell, Turnbull played to the gallery, giving him the taste of an appreciative audience and certainly the confidence to pursue a career in public life.

In an exchange that will remain in the annals of Westminster as much as the Australian courts, Turnbull asked Sir Robert (now Lord) Armstrong, Thatcher’s cabinet secretary, why he had written to the publishers Sidgwick & Jackson saying Thatcher wanted a copy of a book by Chapman Pincher (which covered much of the same ground as Wright’s memoirs) when he was already in possession of the manuscript.

The letter “contains a lie”, Turnbull suggested. Armstrong replied: “It was a misleading impression, it does not contain a lie. I don’t think.”

Turnbull: “What is the difference between a misleading impression and a lie?

Armstrong: “A lie is a straight untruth.”

Turnbull: “What’s a misleading impression, a kind of bent untruth?”

Armstrong: “As one person said, it is perhaps being economical with the truth.”

Armstrong quickly pointed out that the phrase was not his own – it was first used by the political philosopher Edmund Burke, he told the court. But it was too late.

In 2009, the former Australian prime minister Paul Keating told the then incumbent, Kevin Rudd, that there were three things he should know about Turnbull: he was brilliant, utterly fearless, but he had no judgment.

At one point in the Spycatcher trial, Armstrong turned to Turnbull and said: “Don’t worry about me, Mr Turnbull, I am just a fall guy.”

He may have been the first fall guy, but he was not the last to confront the man who is now Australia’s prime minister.

Riaz Haq said...

An adversary India has paid little attention to: Pakistan army’s public relations wing
Facebook’s action against Pakistan-based pages spreading disinformation in India show its army’s PR wing headed by Asif Ghafoor is more lethal than ISI.

ith Facebook taking down pages linked to Pakistani cyber actors spreading disinformation in India ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it’s becoming increasingly clear that India has been late in spotting the danger: if there is a Pakistani inter-services directorate as lethal as the Inter Services Intelligence, it is, undoubtedly, the Inter-Services Public Relations.

Military strategists may balk at the fact that I am equating a notorious intelligence agency with an innocuous media management department. Since the times I executed cyber operations in the government, I have been obsessed with deconstructing the evolving mandate of this little-known outfit. And I have always held the opinion that the role, or rather the potential, of the ISPR has been severely underestimated in the Indian strategic circles.

Cyber operatives like me have been envisioning this scenario since a decade: how the South Asian flashpoint would manifest itself in the cyber-enabled information battlespace. The Balakot escalation unleashed another invisible playbook of the Pakistani military, and the ISPR was its key orchestrator.

Since 2009, the Pakistani Army has conducted a series of public wargames dubbed as Azm-e-Nau, meant to counter the elusive Indian Cold Start doctrine. With many successful iterations over the years, these exercises simulated massive mobilisations augmented by net-centric warfare, stopping short at the tactical nuclear weapons threshold. Azm-e-Nau (A New Beginning) further chiselled Pakistan’s homebrewed philosophy of hybrid war – fusing together many conventional and unconventional elements of conflict, power and diplomacy.

Interestingly, the said wargames treated the ISPR as the crucial pivot of conflict escalation and de-escalation. It was meant to undertake information operations, military deception and strategic communications – benignly dubbed as perception management in military parlance.

This was a couple of years prior to ‘hybrid war’ becoming all the rage in the media circles, manifesting itself as the wildly successful Russian playbook against Georgia, Ukraine, and the US elections. From leveraging non-uniformed militias to undertaking disruptive cyber operations that seeded widescale paranoia and confusion, the Russians reintroduced the cognitive dimension to this emerging format of war.

There were other classified Pakistani exercises that also hinged at the deftness and dexterity of the ISPR’s information warfare strategy. All of this neatly converged, almost with textbook precision, in the showdown after Pulwama.


In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by MoFA, IAF crossed LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area.

11:19 PM - Feb 26, 2019
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Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the armed forces of Russia, is thought to be the key proponent of its hybrid war philosophy, which first found mention in his 2013 article for a journal called Military-Industrial Courier. The contents of his article gained such prominence that the Western media now prefers to call it the Gerasimov Doctrine.

Riaz Haq said...

My wild guess is that Ehsan was instrumental in providing the clues that led to #TTP commanders whereabouts in #Afghanistan and their killing. Ehsan’s “escape” is probably a reward for his valuable help to #Pakistani sleuths

The fatal shooting of two men in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul - a city unfortunately used to violence - went almost unnoticed.

But then, the dead men had hoped to go unnoticed: according to one source, they were both carrying fake IDs.

Exactly what they were doing in Kabul, and who killed them, remains a mystery that touches upon the murky links between security services and extremist groups in the region.

Who they really were, at least, has become clear. According to sources in Pakistani intelligence and militant circles, the men were senior members of the Pakistani Taliban - a group that has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide bombings and other attacks.

One of the dead men was Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, who held a key position in the Pakistani Taliban's leadership council, and formerly served as the group's deputy leader.

He had been accused of involvement in several high-profile attacks on Pakistani politicians and linked to one of the country's deadliest militant attacks, the 2014 assault on a school in Peshawar, which left more than 150 people - mainly children - dead.

The second man was Qari Saif Younis, a military commander within the group. In a statement on Thursday, the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the men's identities and their deaths but gave few other details.

According to one militant source, the men had been due to hold a secret "meeting" in Kabul, on the direct orders of the group's leadership, apparently travelling from the eastern Afghan province of Paktika.

Their bodies were found near the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul
The militant would not say who they were meeting. According to a source in Pakistani intelligence, the men's bodies were discovered in the vicinity of the high-end Intercontinental Hotel - the site of two deadly attacks in recent years.

The deaths occurred last week, but the source in the Pakistani Taliban said the group's leadership had initially ordered the news to be kept "secret", partly as they were rattled by the assassinations, and partly to avoid awkward questions about why the men were in the city.

It is highly unusual for senior members of the Pakistani Taliban to be travelling to Kabul. The group is an entirely separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, with different aims and different supporters. The Afghan Taliban have been fighting a long-running insurgency against the Afghan government, which is backed by US-led forces, while the Pakistani Taliban have focused their attacks inside Pakistan.


The source within the group acknowledged it was also possible that gunmen or militants linked to Pakistani intelligence services were responsible.

They have in the past conducted other audacious assassinations, targeting figures wanted by Pakistan who were living in Afghanistan. For example, in December 2018 a suicide bombing in an upmarket district of the southern city of Kandahar killed a separatist Pakistani leader who had been living there in exile.

Conversely, figures linked to the Afghan Taliban have previously been killed in Pakistan. In 2013, one alleged senior Afghan militant figure was shot dead in a bakery in Islamabad.

According to sources within the Pakistani Taliban, the bodies of the men killed in Kabul, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saif Younis, were handed over to the group, and a large funeral was held for them on Monday in their stronghold in eastern Kunar Province.

Of course, how the bodies ended up back in the hands of their militant group remains another part of the intrigue.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's intelligence service may be the real winner in #AfghanPeaceDeal. Lynch, who also agreed that Pakistan’s policy has led to attacks on its own government, described any victory the #ISI might claim from the peace deal as “Pyrrhic.” via @Yahoo

Pakistan’s security services “have paid through the nose because they knew that [because of] the policy of supporting the Afghan Taliban, they had to allow these other Taliban types to function in Pakistan, and all of those have created havoc in Pakistan,” Abbas said.

The ISI must now face the potential consequences of its decision to continue supporting the Taliban in the years following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Although Pakistan has always denied it, most analysts accept that, following a brief pause after the United States (helped by the Tajik- and Uzbek-dominated Northern Alliance) drove the Taliban from power in late 2001, the ISI revived its relationship with the group it had nurtured since the mid-1990s. The rationale for the ISI’s actions remained the same: Pakistan has traditionally regarded Afghanistan as “strategic depth” in the case of a war with its fierce rival India, and for that reason wants a government in Kabul it can control.

Irrespective of whether the peace talks end with the Taliban gaining a role in government, or simply improving their military position by virtue of the U.S. withdrawal, Pakistan, and in particular the ISI, may therefore welcome the latest turn of events.

“Regardless of the outcome, I think this puts Pakistan — including the ISI — closer, either politically or militarily, to getting more influence in Kabul, which is what they wanted,” said Seth Jones, director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Retired Army Col. Tom Lynch of NDU’s Institute for National Strategic Studies said the U.S. military withdrawal without defeating the Taliban gives Pakistan an “I told you so” moment, because it has proved Pakistan’s argument to the United States, which Lynch summarized as “You can’t succeed in Afghanistan independent of us, because we manage, if not actually control, the militant framework in that country.”

But Lynch, who also agreed that Pakistan’s policy has led to attacks on its own government, described any victory the ISI might claim from the peace deal as “Pyrrhic.”

A return to power for the Afghan Taliban would reenergize the very Islamist groups that have created so much trouble in Pakistan, according to Abbas. “An empowered Afghan Taliban are automatically going to empower, inspire [and] motivate the Pakistani Taliban,” he said. “Any smart strategist in Pakistan at this moment should be quite worried.”

The Pakistanis also understood this, according to Lynch. “They’ve always had us by the short hairs,” he said. “Because they’re so intimately intertwined with those jihadi networks that they knew stuff that we needed to know.”

It would be a mistake to assume that the current crop of senior Taliban leaders are beholden to Pakistan, according to Abbas. As an example, he cited Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former deputy Taliban commander who languished for more than eight years in a Pakistani jail before being released at the United States’ request in 2018. He soon became the militants’ lead negotiator in Qatar, where the peace deal was signed.

Leaders like Baradar “are skeptical about Pakistan,” despite the ISI’s long-standing support of the Taliban, Abbas said. “They will play their own cards very, very carefully.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Paris tracked #PAF's #French #Mirage fighters in action against #TTP in #Pakistan but failed to dig deep in #nuclear secrets because Pakistan's intelligence service #ISI counterintelligence uncovered/thwarted French #spy agency's parallel program.

Riaz Haq said...

"RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations" by Yatish Yadav reveals #Indian #RAW "helped" a top #Afghan politician/warlord. #India carved #Bangladesh out of East #Pakistan. #RAW played double game in #SriLanka, "helping" govt & LTTE via @NewIndianXpress

Set in the turbulent ’70s to the ’90s, R&AW spooks toppled dictators like General Ershad in Bangladesh and Fiji’s Colonel Rabuka by organising public protests and trading loyalties of people in their inner circles respectively. India had carved Bangladesh out of East Pakistan, which America opposed vehemently; President Richard Nixon even sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India.

After Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the ISI and CIA moved into Bangladesh. The Hindu refugee problem was a strain on India’s economy and Ershad’s pro-ISI, pro-CIA stance wasn’t helping. So unexpected were the R&AW-engineered protests that Ershad was forced to resign and a neutral government came in his place. In Fiji, where local Indians were being persecuted by nationalist Rabuka, R&AW used foreign contacts in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to launch a successful operation to oust him. The mission was almost compromised when the mistress of a Fiji bureaucrat who was spying for India informed the authorities.

R&AW also created immense goodwill in many countries; it helped a top Afghan politician and former warlord to escape the Taliban and even got his relative a job in Turkey. R&AW spooks relentlessly bribed, cajoled and blackmailed India’s enemies. At great danger to himself, a daring agent bought information from a mole among Khalistani terrorists who were preparing to attack Delhi, which were averted by the intel. The agency even managed to recruit the prime minister of an important Baltic nation. R&AW had support from most prime ministers, except Pakistan-friendly Morarji Desai, who had dismantled foreign operations and turned over imbedded agents to ISI.


In Sri Lanka, R&AW played a double game, helping the Sri Lankan Army to destroy the LTTE while protecting Indian assets against the Tigers and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hit men. According to a R&AW spymaster in Colombo, MEA bungled and allowed the Chinese to get a foothold in the island.

Riaz Haq said...

Late General Hameed Gil: “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.” #Biden’s #Afghan Pullout Is a Victory for #Pakistan . But at What Cost? #US #CIA #ISI #Taliban - The New York Times

Near the peak of the American war in Afghanistan, a former chief of neighboring Pakistan’s military intelligence — an institution allied both to the U.S. military and to its Taliban adversaries — appeared on a talk show called “Joke Night” in 2014. He put a bold prediction on the record.

“When history is written,” declared Gen. Hamid Gul, who led the feared spy service known as the I.S.I. during the last stretch of the Cold War in the 1980s, “it will be stated that the I.S.I. defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America.”

“Then there will be another sentence,” General Gul added after a brief pause, delivering his punchline to loud applause. “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.”

In President Biden’s decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by September, Pakistan’s powerful military establishment finally gets its wish after decades of bloody intrigue: the exit of a disruptive superpower from a backyard where the I.S.I. had established strong influence through a friendly Taliban regime before the U.S. invaded in 2001.

A return of the Taliban to some form of power would dial the clock back to a time when Pakistan’s military played gatekeeper to Afghanistan, perpetually working to block the influence of its archenemy, India.


If Afghanistan descends into chaos, Pakistanis are bound to feel the burden again just as they did after Afghanistan disintegrated in the 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal. Millions of Afghan refugees crossed the porous border to seek relative safety in Pakistan’s cities and towns.

And more: A Taliban return to power, either through a civil war or through a peace deal that gives them a share of power, would embolden the extremist movements in Pakistan that share the same source of ideological mentorship in the thousands of religious seminaries spread across Pakistan. Those groups have shown no hesitation in antagonizing the country’s government.

While Pakistan’s military played a dangerous game of supporting militants abroad and containing extremists at home, the country’s Islamist movements found a rallying cause in the presence of an invading foreign force next door, openly fund-raising for and cheering on their Afghan classmates. New extremist groups kept shrinking the civil society space in Pakistan — often targeting intellectuals and professionals for abuse or attack — and even found sympathizers in the ranks of Pakistan’s security forces.

Pakistani generals have resorted to a mix of force and appeasement in tackling the country’s own growing militancy problem, said Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. But a strategy for countering the spread of extremism has been elusive.

“It scares me, it scares me,” Dr. Siddiqa said. “Once the Taliban come back, that should trouble the Pakistani government, or any government. It will be inspiring for all the other groups.”

Said Nazir, a retired brigadier and defense analyst in Islamabad, said Pakistan had “learned some lessons” from the blowback of past support to jihadist groups. The country would need to tread more cautiously in the endgame of the Afghan war.

“Victory will not be claimed by Pakistan, but tacitly the Taliban will owe it to Pakistan,” Mr. Nazir said. “Pakistan does fear the replay of past events and fears a bloody civil war and violence if hasty withdrawal and no political solution occur simultaneously.”

Riaz Haq said...

Fareed Zakaria: “For the past 20 years, facing the world’s most powerful army — with the most advanced weaponry and intelligence in history — the ragtag Taliban has survived and often prevailed”. #Afghanistan #Taliban #Biden #US The Washington Post

To understand why the United States couldn’t win, we should remember the dictum coined by Henry Kissinger in 1969 when describing the war in Vietnam: “The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.” Or recall the famous exchange between a North Vietnamese commander and Col. Harry Summers, in which the American officer told his Vietnamese counterpart just before the fall of Saigon in 1975, “You know you never defeated us on the battlefield.” To which the Vietnamese replied, “That may be so, but it is also irrelevant.” The guerrillas win by not losing.

The question we don’t ask enough, however, is not why the United States failed but why the Taliban has succeeded. For the past 20 years, facing the world’s most powerful army — with the most advanced weaponry and intelligence in history — the ragtag Taliban has survived and often prevailed. We spend a lot of time condemning the Taliban for its fanatical ideology and its treatment of women. We call its members terrorists. But we don’t seem to ask, despite all that, why it has done so well.
Mao once noted that guerrillas can succeed only if they can move among the people “as a fish swims in the sea.” The Taliban have managed to do that. Scholars on the ground have found that ethnic identity and solidarity are key to understanding Taliban success, far more important than military prowess, economic aid or even good government. Many people, particularly Pashtuns (the largest ethnic group in the country), identify with the Taliban. The Kabul government is often associated with the outsider, with foreigners. In his brilliant book, “The Accidental Guerrilla,” counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen recounts a battle in which local Afghans joined the Taliban even though they were not ideologically aligned with the group. They simply felt they had to join the fight against the outsiders. And no matter how much money and services the United States may provide, it remains the outsider.

There are other reasons for Taliban success, as well. The group has enjoyed a haven in Pakistan and received help from that country’s military. It is difficult to think of a single case in history in which an insurgency was defeated when it had a sanctuary across the border. The Taliban also benefited from the massive corruption unleashed by the tens of billions of dollars of U.S. aid and military spending that has utterly distorted the Afghan economy. The United States weakened the Kabul government by insisting that it fight opium production, which for better or worse has been a staple agricultural product in provinces such as Helmand for centuries.

But ultimately, it comes down to a simple reality: An outside force that has an ambitious set of goals — establishing a functioning democracy, ending the opium trade, ensuring equality for women — cannot succeed without a powerful, competent and legitimate local partner.

Riaz Haq said...

Is the Pakistani Military Establishment to Blame for All of the Country's Problems?

Retired General Amjad Shoaib's answer is "Yes, the Pakistani military produced Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif....Zardari also rose from the NRO (pardon) granted by the Pakistani military". But then he asks: "Who forced the people to vote for them? Shouldn't the people share the blame for the ascent of these politician?"

Riaz Haq said...

Ambassador Ryan Crocker on #US exit from #Afghanistan:"We have again validated their (#Pakistanis) skepticism". Pakistanis "knew we (US) will go home but they aren’t going anywhere--this is where they live".They'd not "turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy"

I recall the comment attributed to a captured Taliban fighter from a number of years ago: You Americans have the watches, but we have the time. Sadly that view proved accurate — the Taliban outlasted us and our impatience. After the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of U.S.-trained and armed mujahedeen in 1989, training that was facilitated by Pakistan, we decided we were done. We could see the Afghan civil war coming — the only thing holding the disparate Afghan groups together was a common enemy. But that was not our problem — we were leaving. On the way out, we stopped helping Pakistan in a key way: We ended security and economic assistance because of its nuclear weapons program, something we’d exempted before. So Pakistan, in its own narrative, went from being the most allied of allies to the most sanctioned of adversaries. That is why Pakistan threw its support to the Taliban when they started gaining ground in the 1990s: It could end a dangerous conflict along Pakistan’s own unstable borders.

And that is why a decade later after 9/11, Pakistan welcomed the return of the United States — and U.S. assistance. It would work with us against Al Qaeda. But we soon learned that the Taliban were a sticky matter. I was ambassador to Pakistan from 2004 to 2007. I pushed Pakistani officials repeatedly on the need to deny the Taliban safe havens. The answer I got back over time went like this: “We know you. We know you don’t have patience for the long fight. We know the day will come when you just get tired and go home — it’s what you do. But we aren’t going anywhere — this is where we live. So if you think we are going to turn the Taliban into a mortal enemy, you are completely crazy.”

We have again validated their skepticism.

The Washington Post notes that “as the Taliban swept across neighboring Afghanistan, some Pakistanis saw it as a reason to celebrate.” Yet I doubt there are many high fives being exchanged in Islamabad today. The American disaster in Afghanistan that Mr. Biden’s impatience brought about is not a disaster just for us. It has also been a huge boost for the Taliban, whose narrative now is that the believers, clad in the armor of the one true faith, have vanquished the infidels. That is resonating around the world, and certainly next door in Pakistan where the T.T.P. — the Pakistani Taliban, which seeks the overthrow of their government — has certainly been emboldened, as have Kashmiri militant groups created by Pakistan but that threaten Pakistan itself as well as India. Mr. Biden’s strategic impatience has given a huge boost to militant Islam everywhere.

We need to be engaged with Pakistan on ways to assess and deal with this enhanced threat. The prospect of violent destabilization of a country with about 210 million people and nuclear weapons is not a pretty one. The same is true in Iran. It’s always good to see the Great Satan take a kick in the face, and it’s worth a little gloating, but the Islamic Republic and the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate almost went to war in 1998. A region is worried, and it is right to be so.

Riaz Haq said...

India's current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said in 2013 that the the 230,000 strong Afghan Army and police will deliver. They are well trained and sufficiently motivated. They will defend the Afghan state and Afghanistan's constitution irrespective of what happens at the political level. Doval said he didn't believe 15-20 Pakistani security officials who have told him otherwise. He never believes anything the Pakistanis say.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #ISI has a record of discovering & breaking up #US #CIA spy agents rings: “Historic Pakistani success in identifying people working for the CIA was a driving force behind the cable, the people familiar with the matter said.” #intelligence

Counterintelligence officials at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Va., have dispatched a cable to officers around the world cautioning them to take greater care in handling human sources, who are at risk of being captured or killed by rival intelligence services, according to people familiar with the matter.

The cable reflected a general concern among the agency’s leadership that its operations officers should pay more attention to protecting their agents, while also recognizing that they have to aggressively recruit spies and informants to perform their intelligence-collection mission, according to the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive matter.

Such notices to the field — known as worldwide stations and bases cables (WWSB) — are routine, former officials said. People familiar with the recent cable said it wasn’t prompted by any new penetration of a spy network. But, they added, the cable underscored concerns that CIA officers may be putting recruitment ahead of basic source-protection techniques.

Historic Pakistani success in identifying people working for the CIA was a driving force behind the cable, the people familiar with the matter said.

The CIA is under renewed pressure to recruit and maintain effective spy networks in Pakistan, following the U.S. withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan and the country’s takeover by the Taliban. Maintaining reliable human sources will be crucial to the Biden administration’s plans to keep tabs on terrorist threats without a military presence on the ground, former officials said.

The CIA cable was first reported by the New York Times.

“These go out every two or three years on counterintelligence concerns. They’re not unusual but are still important reminders to officers to tighten up on tradecraft,” said Thad Troy, a former CIA operations officer who served as a chief of station in several European capitals. Troy said he had not seen the recent cable.
In an unusually revealing detail, the cable noted the number of agents killed by foreign intelligence services. That level of specificity might ordinarily be excluded from a cable that is widely disseminated, as this one was, but it was included to get the attention of CIA officers, who might otherwise regard the bulletin as a routine advisory, people familiar with the message said.

When asked about the cable, a CIA spokeswoman declined to comment.

The CIA has suffered some disastrous penetrations of its spy networks in recent years. In 2011, the agency launched a mole-hunt after an informant in China told his American handlers that everyone he knew who was helping the U.S. government had been discovered by Chinese authorities, who then forced the agents to work for them.

CIA assets in Iran were also identified and arrested in another penetration around the same time.

In both instances, former officials said that agents were probably discovered because of a breach in the CIA’s covert communications system, which it used to secretly communicate with agents in the field.

By invoking previous failures, the cable was probably meant to admonish current officers not to repeat past mistakes.

“If this is being sent to the workforce [rather than a particular CIA station], the message is, ‘Hey, people, let’s be careful,” said Daniel Hoffman, a former intelligence officer who held senior positions overseas and at headquarters.

Hoffman, who hasn’t seen the cable, said that if the agency wanted to send a more urgent message about an active counterintelligence problem — such as a particular group of sources being compromised — it would handle the matter in a more discreet message to the officers concerned.

Riaz Haq said...

Riaz Haq has left a new comment on your post "Is Biden Demanding Use of Pakistani Military Bases After Pullout From Afghanistan?":

How #US, #UK & #Pakistan Joined Hands to Stop Another 9/11. They crushed what would come to be known as the transatlantic aircraft plot: a #terrorist conspiracy to kill thousands of passengers by detonating liquid explosives hidden in plastic bottles.

While the Anglo-American intelligence alliance remains rock-solid, the Pakistani-American one has badly foundered. But decades from now, historians will look back on this era’s checkered legacy and highlight OVERT as a model. The menace of transnational terrorism will likely stay with us, and so we should hope that both friendly and adversarial nations will continue to work together to keep their populations safe without losing sight of their values.



01/02/2022 07:00 AM EST

Aki Peritz is a former CIA analyst and the author of Disruption: Inside the Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History, from which this article is adapted.

August 9, 2006. It was evening in Walthamstow, East London. Two local men had arranged to meet at the Town Hall complex to discuss an urgent matter. They met in the parking lot, briefly rummaging around in the back of one of their cars, before walking off toward the Walthamstow War Memorial. There, they leaned against a wall in the dark, chatting.

A little way off in the darkness, the command crackled over the police comms. The surveillance team watching the men from afar was ordered to move in and arrest them immediately. Their high-priority targets had converged on a single spot, and there was little time to waste. But this was Great Britain, where the police do not carry guns. These men and women were suddenly tasked to arrest the two top suspects in al-Qaeda’s largest terror plot in the West since 9/11 — and they didn’t have a single firearm among them.

All they had were, at best, cuffs and a stern voice. And so the team aggressively approached the men, hoping they wouldn’t have a gun or a knife. Or a bomb, possibly hidden in one of the cars, ready to detonate with a flick of the switch.

Utterly caught off guard, two men who had spent the last several months plotting to bring down multiple passenger planes over the Atlantic Ocean gave up without a fight.

Thus began a massive crackdown throughout the United Kingdom. That night and into the following morning, scores of police kicked down doors across London and elsewhere, tackling suspects on the street, dragging others from their homes and safehouses. It was the culmination of Operation OVERT, a massive investigation that had been whirring relatively quietly for months as the U.S., the U.K. and Pakistan worked together to crush what would come to be known as the transatlantic aircraft plot: a terrorist conspiracy to kill thousands of passengers by detonating liquid explosives hidden in plastic bottles.

OVERT was a huge undertaking; over 800 surveillance officers worked on cracking that cell, with teams pulled in from Northern Ireland and the military. “If the Boy Scouts had a surveillance team,” Steve Dryden of the London Metropolitan Police dryly noted, “we’d have used them as well.” Across the Atlantic, the White House, CIA, NSA and other departments were providing as much assistance to their British counterparts as possible. Cooperation from the United States, as well as from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had been critical to the effort that ended with the raft of arrests on that August night.

Riaz Haq said...

How #US, #UK & #Pakistan Joined Hands to Stop Another 9/11. They crushed what would come to be known as the transatlantic aircraft plot: a #terrorist conspiracy to kill thousands of passengers by detonating liquid explosives hidden in plastic bottles.

While the Anglo-American intelligence alliance remains rock-solid, the Pakistani-American one has badly foundered. But decades from now, historians will look back on this era’s checkered legacy and highlight OVERT as a model. The menace of transnational terrorism will likely stay with us, and so we should hope that both friendly and adversarial nations will continue to work together to keep their populations safe without losing sight of their values.



01/02/2022 07:00 AM EST

Aki Peritz is a former CIA analyst and the author of Disruption: Inside the Largest Counterterrorism Investigation in History, from which this article is adapted.


Rauf was snoozing as the bus approached the checkpoint. When it suddenly came to a halt by the railway tracks, Rauf opened his eyes and glanced out the window. It wasn’t the usual bored policeman or train operator idling along the side of the road, but a unit of elite police officers armed with gleaming Kalashnikov rifles. In the group were several plainclothes men; one motioned to the driver to open the front door. The driver obeyed and the officers told him to pull over and cut the motor. The bus driver quickly complied.

As the fog of sleep lifted, Rauf quickly put two and two together. According to his written notes that were later obtained by German authorities, he felt a terrible sinking feeling when he realized he had forgotten to switch off one of his cell phones. In a desperate, pointless effort, he turned off a few phones before the authorities made their way to the back of the bus. After visually identifying Rauf, they cuffed and hooded him, bundling the terrorist mastermind into the back of a waiting van. He didn’t put up a fight. It was over in a few minutes. Rashid Rauf was in custody.

The British, who favored letting the plot develop further, were displeased about this turn of events. The Met’s Peter Clarke was “well and truly miffed;” surveillance chief Steve Dryden was “angry.” “Livid” was how the BBC’s Margaret Gilmore described the cops’ reaction. This was an enormously complicated, calibrated operation involving hundreds, perhaps thousands, of officers. The surveillance squads had been working at full tilt; few had any semblance of a normal home life. But now the American bull had barged into their china shop.

Still, the operation was a great joint U.S.-Pakistan success. But by the following year, the shine was off that relationship. The Pakistanis began withholding assistance. Hayden, the CIA chief, recalled in his memoirs that when the United States went to Pakistan in 2007 with a plan to take out a specific al Qaeda operative, “the response was no, maddening delay, or our target suddenly and unexpectedly relocated.” In response, the CIA chose to aggressively pursue unilateral operations within Pakistan, cutting out the ISI completely. And in December 2007, Rashid Rauf mysteriously escaped Pakistani custody and disappeared.

The lack of cooperation became more obvious a few years later in the 2011 bin Laden raid, in which the United States inserted forces deep into Pakistan to kill the al-Qaeda leader without the ISI realizing what had happened. Relations between the two countries have never recovered.