Wednesday, February 18, 2009




A book titled "The Inheritance" written by David Sanger, a correspondent of the "New York Times, and published recently has receivedmuch attention because of its disclosures about how the previous administration of George Bush realised that Gen. (now retired) PervezMusharraf was playing a double game with the US---- pretending to act against the Taliban and covertly using it as strategic asset. It alsorefers to a reported intercept of a telephone conversation of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the present chief of the Army Staff, in which hereferred to jJallaluddin Haqqani, a Taliban commander, as a strategic asset.

2. Commenting on the book, the "Times" of London wrote as follows on February 17,2009: " Washington sent Special Forces into Pakistanlast summer after intercepting a call by the Pakistani army chief referring to a notorious Taleban leader as a “strategic asset,” a new bookhas claimed.The intercept was ordered to confirm suspicions that the Pakistani military were still actively supporting the Taleban whilsttaking millions of dollars in US military aid to fight them, according to the “The Inheritance,” by the New York Times correspondent DavidSanger. In a transcript passed to Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence in May 2008, General Ashfaq Kayani, the military chiefwho replaced Pervez Musharraf, was overheard referring to Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani as “a strategic asset”. The remark was the first realevidence of the double game that Washington had long suspected President Musharraf was playing as he continued receiving US militaryaid while aiding the Taleban. Mr Haqqani, a veteran of the anti-Soviet mujahidin wars of the nineties, commands a hardline Taleban groupbased in Waziristan and is credited with introducing suicide bombing into the militants' arsenal. Washington later intercepted calls fromPakistani military units to Mr Haqqani, warning him of an impending military operation designed to prove to the US that Islamabad wastackling the militant threat."

3.Evidence of the links of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and of the double game being played byMusharraf, the Pakistan Army and the ISI was available with the US intelligence since 2001, if not earlier. There were references to it insome documents of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which were declassified by the US Administration in September,2003. In anarticle of September 17,2003, titled " ISI-BIN LADEN LINKS: As Seen by the DIA" I had analysed these documents. The text of my analysis is annexed below.

4. The US agencies were aware of Musharraf's double-dealing right from the beginning, but the US policy-makers prefered to close their eyesto it. It is this US policy of closing its eyes to negative evidence against Pakistan, which is responsible for the continuing activities of AlQaeda and the Taliban from Pakistani territory.

5. I wrote in my analysis of September 17,2003: " From these documents, it is clear that the DIA knew of the role of the ISI in the sponsorshipof not only the Taliban, but also Al Qaeda. And yet, the Bush administration has for over two years chosen to close its eyes to the complicityof Pakistan and to project Musharraf to its own public opinion as well as to the international community as a frontline ally in the war againstterrorism. Why? A question to which there has been no convincing answer. "

6. Why the US is not prepared to fully open its eyes even today after President Barack Obama assumed office? President Obama'sformulations regarding the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda in Pakistani territory are becoming more and more guarded and less and lesscategorical. During the Presidential campaign, he categorically spoke of the sanctuaries being located in Pakistani territory. In a TVinterview after taking over, he gave the impression as if the sanctuaries could be in Afghan territory. In his latest statement authorising theinduction of 17,000 more US troops into Afghanistan coming spring and summer, he has been quoted by news agencies as saying : "TheTaliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistaniborder." Along the border means what? In Pakistani or Afghan territory. The reluctance to call a spade a spade with reference to Pakistan'scomplicity with Al Qaeda and the Taliban continues even under Obama. This is going to further harm the US campaign against Al Qaeda andthe Taliban.(18-2-09)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )


ISI-BIN LADEN LINKS: As Seen by the DIA ( ) by

On the eve of the second anniversary of Al Qaeda's terrorist strikes in the USA on September 11, 2001, the US Government has declassified32 documents relating to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Twenty-six of these documents are of the US State Department and the remaining are ofthe Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the Pentagon. This article analyses the contents of three DIA documents only.

2.The first document (15 pages), prepared in September,1999, is based on an analysis of all information received by the DIA till July 1,1999. It is titled "Defence Intelligence Assessment". The subject of the assessment is "Osama bin Laden/Al Qaeda Information Operations". Nearly 90 per cent of the document has been excised before its declassification. Hence, it does not contain anything of value. From aperusal of the unexcised portions, one could guess that the assessment must have been about Al Qaeda's information assets such as itsmodern communications capability, its use of the internet,. its capability for attacking the information networks of others etc and thedefensive and offensive options available to the US. The defensive aspect relates to protecting the networks of the USA against Al Qaedaattacks and the offensive to neutralising or penetrating Al Qaeda's assets.

3. The second document, dated September 24, 2001, is titled "Veteran Afghan Traveller's Analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban's ExploitableWeaknesses" and carries the following caution: "This is an information report. Not finally evaluated intelligence."

4. It would appear that this document is not the traveller's report, but an analysis prepared by an official of the DIA, either in the USEmbassy in Islamabad or in the DIA headquarters in Washington DC, on the basis of the traveller's report. The language used in the portiondeclassified and released is that of a professional intelligence analyst and not that of an Afghan traveller.

5. The analysis carries the following summary: "Eventually, the Taliban and Al Qaeda will war with each other. The weakness of both is inthe minds of the individuals that belong to the groups and in the power that is given to them by their names. Al Qaeda have not integratedwith Afghans or the Taliban, leaving them susceptible to exploitation." By this, the analyst means exploitation by the US to play theTaliban/Afghans and Al Qaeda against each other. What wishful-thinking this has proved to be in retrospect!

6.The analysis carries the most damning account of Pakistan's role as the real host of bin Laden and his Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It says:"Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe santuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan directives. If there isany doubt on that issue, consider the location of bin Laden's camp targeted by US Cruise missiles, Zahawa. Positioned on the borderbetween Afghanistan and Pakistan, it was built by Pakistani contractors, funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorateand protected under the patronage of a local and influential Jadran tribal leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani. However, the real host in that facilitywas the Pakistani ISI. If this was later to become bin Laden's base, then serious questions are raised by the early relationship between binLaden and Pakistan's ISI."

7. It describes Jalaluddin Haqqani as "the Jadran tribal leader most exploited by ISI during the Soviet-Afghan war to facilitate theintroduction of Arab mercenaries " and the Taliban as "the handy cloak woven by Pakistan to shroud their progress?" Whose progress---AlQaeda's or Pakistan's? Most probably, Pakistan's, but this is not clear.

8. The analysis describes the US objective as "the establishment of a more stable coalition Afghan Government free of the Taliban andPakistani interference" and advocates a cost effective military engagement, with appropriate air support, than the mass deployment ofground forces. It says: "The enemy does not have mass, which makes them harder to engage."

9. The analysis' predictions of differences one day emerging between the Afghans and the Taliban on the one side and Al Qaeda on theother because of Al Qaeda's superiority complex and its perception of itself as an elite force destined to command have not proved correctso far.

10. The analysis projects the then coming war against terrorism in Afghanistan as likely to be fought on two fronts--- a war to destroy thematerial strength of Al Qaeda---its cadres, training camps, infrastructure etc--- and another for the minds of the people. In the context of thewar for the minds of the people, it underlines the importance of right names and right images to influence the minds of the targeted people.

11. It points out the impact on the minds of the Muslims made by the characterisation of the US as "the Great Satan". The constantreference to the US as the "Great Satan" and not as the US serves the double purpose of highlighting the immense power of the US whichcould be countered only with determination and projecting that power in negative colours to create an aversion for that power. It stressesthe importance of a similar characterisation of Al Qaeda by an appropriate name and not by its real name of Al Qaeda. Apparently, USpolicy-makers and psy-warriors have not been able to determine what that characterisation could be.

12. The third document, also dated September 24,2001, is titled: "Veteran Afghanistan traveller's analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban, military,political and cultural landscape and its weaknesses. " It also carries the same caution as the second. It goes into great detail regarding thePakistani game in Afghanistan in the following words:

13. "During the Soviet-Afghan war, the West preferred to maintain a policy of deniability and allowed Pakistan to handle the dailyadministration of the war, cash and arms distribution. It was a task Pakistan carried out with great enthusiasm and they helped themselvesto generous portion of cash and arms. The Pakistan Government also had a hidden agenda.

14. "Unlike the West, they (Pakistan) were concerned with what would happen after the war to ensure influence over any Government that came to power in Afghanistan after a Soviet withdrawal. Pakistan decided to directly influence the outcome. Rather than allow the mostgifted Afghan commanders and parties to flourish, who would be difficult to control later, Pakistan preferred to groom the incompetent onesfor the role of future leaders of Afghanistan. Being incompetent, they would be wholly reliant on Pakistan for support. The principalbeneficiary of this policy was Gulbuddin Heckmatyar. His credentials were that of an anti-Western Islamic fundamentalist.

15." In tandem with favouring the incompetent Heckmatyar over more enterprising and gifted commanders such as Ahmed Shah Massoud,the Tadjik commander from Northern Afghanistan, Pakistan also encouraged, facilitated and often escorted Arabs from the Middle East intoAfghanistan...... Visitors from the Middle East had been in evidence since the very early part of the Soviet-Afghan war. However, they lackednumbers, confidence, experience or bonding ties sufficient to give them a separate identity from their hosts.

16." This was allowed to evolve over a period of time, which was effectively the incubation of Al Qaeda. For the first time, large numbers ofArabs were observed in Afghanistan during the Soviet withdrawal. One of the key features of the Paktia border province, in which they werefirst established, was that it had no Russians.....At that point, the Arab visitors were largely linked and reliant on Haqqani's mujahideen inPaktia.

17. "When Kabul finally fell, it was Ahmed Shah Massoud who captured it, not Heckmatyar. Pakistan could not accept this result and thefragile Afghan coalition Government began another civil war, with the Pakistani stooge Heckmatyar being backed to seize total power. Hewas never able to wrest Kabul from Massoud, despite massive logistical and material ( including manpower) support from Pakistan. Againstthis failure, it should be noted that Pakistan has lost every war it has ever fought.

18. "After years of futile effort, which effectively saw the Lebanonisation of Afghanistan, Pakistan finally abandoned Heckmatyar. However,not in favour of a more rational policy. Instead, they set about doing the same thing all over again. They created another force they hoped tohave better control over than Heckmatyar's rabble. It was called Taliban,the Arabic name "Talib" being literally translated as "Asker" or"Seeker".

19." Taliban means "the Seekers", signifying a student of divinity. This inspired title helped cloak Pakistan's hidden agenda in a new Islamiccoat. To lead the Taliban Pakistan chose Mullah Mohammad Omar, who was willing to do as he was told. According to Taliban propaganda,the Mullah was divinely inspired to rid Afghanistan of the troublesome war and warlords. Afghanistan was blighted with both, largely due toyears of civil war sponsored by Pakistan and reliant on the stockpile of arms plundered from a covert Western arms pipeline. From the old Soviet-Afghan war days, the Mullah emerged with a fully functioning, fully-armed, conventionally-equipped, fully-trained military force proneto large-scale conventional actions. Omar's emergence is credited to Pakistan ISI's actions.

20."The repeated, pronounced pattern under ISI direction has been to ignore the poorly-trained guerilla nature of the Afghan Mujahideen andpress them to conduct conventional-style engagement, the same style Taliban are credited with learning from the Koran. As a result ofthese actions, the fully-supported by Pakistan Taliban prevailed over the unsupported legitimate government of Afghanistan.

21." The Taliban is not synonymous with Afghanistan. It was created, imposed and recognised by Pakistan in pursuit of its own interests.Playing the Islamic fundamentalist card as a means of securing control over a compliant proxy regime in neighbouring Afghanistan hasseriously backfired. Pakistan has also lost control of the Taliban, who are proving to be both unpredictable and ungrateful. Under the shadeof the Taliban umbrella, the bin Laden brand of extremism has been able to grow unmolested inside Afghanistan.

22." The Al Qaeda agenda in Afghanistan differs significantly from that of the Taliban. They are not about creating an independent IslamicState. Long term, there can be no room for Taliban in their ambitions. Having been artificially introduced to the region and encouraged intheir ambitions so far, they have grown in confidence and stature. Taliban acceptance and approval of fundamentalist non-Afghans as partof their fighting force were merely an extension of the Pakistani policy during the Soviet-Afghan war. It is very important to realise thatmembers of 055 Brigade (Al Qaeda) might serve with Taliban forces, but they are not in any Western sense integrated. They remain ratherlike an international brigade, different in language, habit and in the interpretation of Islam. Additionally, their vision of the future ofAfghanistan differs.

23."Pakistan's goals are simple, the continuance of the policy they have always demonstrated regarding Afghanistan. It is failing with theTaliban and it cannot succeed under any Afghan Giovernment controlled by Al Qaeda. The repercussions from Pakistan's attempt tomanipulate the Islamic card are just surfacing.

24." In Islamabad, they have tried to ignore or bury the evidence for some time. It must be a deeply troubling period for General (Musharraf)in Pakistan, who is asked to help hunt down the culprits that he helped to establish and supported. Not to support the US invites troubleand to assist the US to their aims also presents problems to Pakistan. The quandary leaves the Pakistanis confused as to how they might beabsolved without permanently shattering their regional aspirations or their Government." (Citation of document ends)

25. The second and third documents are both dated September 24, 2001. The language in the second document is apparently that of aprofessional intelligence analyst, but the language of the third is not. It appears to be that of a source and not of the DIA. It would seem thatthe third document is the report of the source and the second is the note of a DIA analyst or analysts who had forwarded it to theirsuperiors giving their assessment and making their recommendations regarding the future course of action.

26. From these documents, it is clear that the DIA knew of the role of the ISI in the sponsorship of not only the Taliban, but also Al Qaeda. And yet, the Bush administration has for over two years chosen to close its eyes to the complicity of Pakistan and to project Musharraf to itsown public opinion as well as to the international community as a frontline ally in the war against terrorism. Why? A question to which therehas been no convincing answer.