Direc­torate S probed

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

U.S. in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity agen­cies are sift­ing through thou­sands of pages of doc­u­ments ob­tained from Osama bin Laden’s lair in Pak­istan in a hunt for links be­tween the al Qaeda leader and Pak­istan’s ISI mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence ser­vice.

Specif­i­cally, spies are try­ing to pin­point whether any ISI of­fi­cers were in­volved in hid­ing and sup­port­ing bin Laden through ISI’s shad­owy Direc­torate S, the unit that in the past was the covert li­ai­son with for­eign ter­ror­ist groups, in­clud­ing al Qaeda and the Tal­iban.

Rep. Mike Rogers, chair­man of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, said May 11 that there were “el­e­ments” of the ISI that “knew and looked the other way” on bin Laden’s lo­gis­tics net­work in Pak­istan.

“But we can’t say the in­sti­tu­tions, yet, knew and looked the other way,” the Michi­gan Repub­li­can added.

“We know that cer­tain ISI mem­bers still have a sym­pa­thy to­ward the Tal­iban, and cer­tain al Qaeda el­e­ments, and the Haqqani net­work.”

In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials say ultimate power in Pak­istan is not held by civil­ian gov­ern­ment lead­ers but with two key of­fi­cials: Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ash­faq Kayani, a for­mer ISI chief, and cur­rent ISI Di­rec­tor Lt. Gen. Ah­mad Shuja Pasha.

How­ever, Direc­torate S is be­lieved to be a power unto it­self, op­er­at­ing out­side the con­trol of both mil­i­tary lead­ers, of­fi­cials said.

A 2009 cable made pub­lic re­cently by Wik­iLeaks stated that in prepa­ra­tion for the visit to the United States by Gen. Kayani, “We [U.S. of­fi­cials] need to lay down a clear marker that Pak­istan’s Army/ISI must stop overt or tacit sup­port for mil­i­tant prox­ies” in­clud­ing the Haqqani net­work, Com­man­der Nazir, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Gen. Kayani was ISI di­rec­tor from 2004 to 2007, a pe­riod when bin Laden’s Ab­bot­tabad com­pound was built and the ter­ror­ist leader moved into it.

Ac­cord­ing to the cable, the Pak­istan mil­i­tary and ISI do not share the views of civil­ian Pak­istani lead­ers that the coun­try’s big­gest threat comes from the grow­ing mil­i­tant in­sur­gency on the Pak­istan-Afghan bor­der.

“The mil­i­tary and ISI have not yet made that leap; they still view In­dia as their prin­ci­ple threat and Afghanistan as strate­gic depth in a pos­si­ble con­flict with In­dia,” the cable said.

“They con­tinue to pro­vide overt or tacit sup­port for proxy forces, in­clud­ing the Haqqani group, Com­man­der Nazir, Gul­baddin Hek­mat­yar, and Lashkare-Taiba as a for­eign pol­icy tool.”

The Haqqani group in Afghanistan is headed by Jalalud­din Haqqani, a close as­so­ciate of bin Laden from the 1980s.

Direc­torate S has been linked in the past by U.S. in­tel­li­gence to sub rosa ac­tiv­i­ties be­yond sup­port for ter­ror­ists, in­clud­ing drug traf­fick­ing. It also is be­lieved to be the main covert link be­tween Pak­istan’s gov­ern­ment and the Is­lamist Tal­iban mili­tia, cur­rently the tar­get of the U.S.led war in Afghanistan.

Of­fi­cially, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to date has said there is no ev­i­dence in the cap­tured files link­ing the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment, mil­i­tary or in­tel­li­gence “lead­ers” to the sup­port net­work in Pak­istan for al Qaeda. But the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­mains con­vinced there was an or­ga­nized unit that was pro­tect­ing bin Laden.

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