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ISI aided Kabul attack, say US officials.

Byline: PAN Monitor

ISI aided Kabul attack, say US officials

PAN Monitor - Aug 1, 2008 - 10:13

KABUL (PAN): US spy agencies have concluded officials of Pakistans premier intelligence service helped plan the July 7 suicide bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, a prestigious American newspaper reported on Friday.

The New York Times, quoting unnamed official sources, said the conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and insurgents who conducted the deadly assault that killed scores of people including two Indian diplomats.

According to the mass-circulation daily, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) link to the massive explosion suggests the clearest evidence yet that Pakistani spies are actively undercutting US efforts at fighting guerrillas in the region.

Pakistani intelligence personnel were increasingly leaking details of ongoing US operations to rebels, the NYT alleged, revealing in some cases ISI officers allowed militants to escape American missile strikes in the volatile tribal belt.

The Times said US officials believed the embassy attack was likely carried out by members of the Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani network. The groups ties to al-Qaeda have helped it rebuild itself in the lawless tribal areas.

Regarding the intercepted communications, one State Department official told the newspaper: "It confirmed some suspicions that I think were widely held. It was sort of this 'aha' moment. There was a sense that there was finally direct proof."

Soon after the terrorist act that claimed 54 lives, India accused the ISI Directorate of helping orchestrate the attack in Kabul. Afghanistan also hit out at the Pakistani agency for complicity in the bombing, saying the sophistication of the attack had the hallmarks of that intelligence service.

Last month, a top Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official visited Pakistan to confront senior Pakistani officials with information about support provided by members of the ISI to militant groups.

Cautious in describing the new evidence, the US officials did not say what kind of support the ISI officers provided to the fighters. The ISI officers had not been renegades, the officials said, indicating actions of the spies could have been sanctioned by their seniors.

In interviews with NYT, several American officials voiced fury that elements within the Pakistan government appeared to be directly aiding attacks on US forces in Afghanistan. Some American officials have begun to suggest that Pakistan is no longer a fully reliable American partner.

Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani official scorned as absolutely untrue the contents of the NYT story and denied suggestions elements of its intelligence agency were fomenting trouble in Afghanistan. Such stories were the handiwork of anti-Pakistan elements and part of propaganda against the country, he said.

Rehman Malik, advisor to the prime minister on interior affairs, insisted: Pakistani intelligence agencies are not at all involved in Afghanistan. He said all intelligence outfits were working under Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Islamabad had informed the United States of anti-Pakistan activities being carried out by its enemies, who were out to destabilise the tribal areas, he added. Malik queried Afghanistans links to some people who caused problems in Balochistan. He thought India was behind the unrest in FATA.

As a responsible member of international community, Pakistan is playing a vital anti-terrorism role in one of the most difficult terrains in the world on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the advisor observed.

PAN Monitor/mud

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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