CIA chief Leon Panetta has shared “evidence of suspected collusion with pro-Afghan Taliban militants in the tribal areas” with Pakistan’s senior military leaders, Time magazine reported on Saturday.
Quoting unnamed sources, Time said Panetta confronted Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general Ahmed Shuja Pasha with the evidence in meetings held late on Friday.
It said that Panetta shared with Kayani and Pasha a 10-minute edited video that shows the militants evacuating two bomb-making factories in Waziristan. One of the factories is based in Miramshah, North Waziristan. The other factory is in South Waziristan. The militants in North Waziristan are believed to belong to groups led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Sirajuddin Haqqani. Both militant leaders have attacked US and Nato troops across the border in Afghanistan. According to the sources, Panetta alleged that the militants were tipped off within 24 hours of the US sharing information on the facilities with the Pakistanis.
When Pakistani troops later arrived at the scene of the two bomb-making facilities, used for the manufacture of improvised explosive devices, the militants were gone. The sources told Time that the CIA believes elements within the “Pakistani security apparatus” had informed the militants that they would be targeted.
The video, say the sources, was made up of satellite images. Those who have seen the video said that it was a “clear” and “explicit” demonstration of the militants leaving the two sites. Before Panetta travelled to Islamabad, the video was shown to congressional leaders, including the US Senate’s committees on intelligence.
The Washington Post said the clearing out of sites prior to the military raid was confirmed by satellite images and a local security official in North Waziristan. One of the sites was located in a girls’ school in the city of Miramshah. The other, in South Waziristan, was thought to be an al Qaeda-run facility, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
US officials say they do not know how the operation was compromised. They are however concerned that either the information was inadvertently leaked
inside Pakistan or insurgents were warned directly by the ISI. Officials said that video of the two installations indicated both were being used to manufacture improvised explosive
Countering Taliban infiltration
In the wake of a growing pattern of Afghan soldiers and police officers attacking their coalition counterparts, the US military is sending 80 counterintelligence agents to Afghanistan to help stem the threat of Taliban infiltration in the Afghan National Security Forces,The New York Times reported, citing military officials. These intelligence specialists will enhance the vetting of recruits, review profiles of soldiers who are being trained and generally tighten up the procedures to identify individuals who might be vulnerable to extremists’ appeals, officials said. Since March 2009, at least 57 people, including 32 American troops, have been killed in at least 19 attacks in which Afghan service members have turned their weapons on coalition forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2011.