Pakistan spy agency denies backing Afghan Taliban
The Inter-Services Intelligence agency is accused repeatedly in the leaked Afghan war logs of supporting the insurgency
Saeed Shah | The Guardian | 26 July 2010
Pakistan’s spy agency today dismissed as “unsubstantiated raw intelligence” claims in the leaked war logs that it was supporting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) is accused repeatedly in the logs by coalition commanders of directing insurgent attacks or planning operations, though there is little evidence to substantiate many of the most sensational allegations.
An ISI official said:
“In the intelligence world, preliminary and final reports are two different things. Only once something is collaborated from multiple sources does it become a credible piece of information.
“The majority of these [documents] are preliminary reports, and they are mostly from Afghan intelligence, so you can imagine their credibility.”
Hamid Gul, a former ISI chief who is extensively cited in the documents as meeting and aiding the Taliban, reacted furiously, calling the material “a pack of lies, a fairly tale”.
He denied having any contact with the Taliban, though he was happy to voice his moral support for them. “They are targeting Pakistan. I’m just the whipping boy,” said Gul, who led the agency from 1987 to 1989.
“If a 74-year-old sitting in a small house in Rawalpindi is instrumental in defeating the world’s biggest power, I don’t mind if they say that. But it will put to shame American posterity.”
Gul, who lives close to the military headquarters at Rawalpindi, offered to fly to the UK to answer the allegations, as long as it was done in public (“no Guantanamo”). But he added that he had been banned from the UK since November 2000. Though Gul retired from the military back in 1991, he is frequently accused of remaining active, along with other former intelligence officers, in a “shadow ISI”.
“This is akin to Saddam Hussein having the bomb in the closet and Colin Powell telling the world about it,” Gul added, referring to the case for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq put by the former US secretary of state.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry in Islamabad called the leaks “far-fetched and skewed”. Spokesman Abdul Basitsaid: “Pakistan’s constructive and positive role in Afghanistan cannot be blighted by such self-serving and baseless reports.”