January 18, 2009 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In an item which has received far too little attention, we note once again how central Pakistan is to a successful effort in Afghanistan. This was unfortunately demonstrated - to tragic effect - on December 30 when Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, believed to be a Jordanian, detonated a powerful explosive device, killing 7 CIA operatives in Afghanistan's Khost region.
The precision with which the bombing was carried out and the type of explosive used points in the direction of outside assistance having been given to the operation, " The speculation about a possible ISI hand in the suicide attack is being traced back to U.S. and Afghan government sources who said in the analysis of explosives used, it was found they were of standard military grade which points to the ISI. [source, The Hindu, http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article79491.ece]
Downplaying the possibility of state level ISI players having been involved in the costly incident, Stratfor, a U.S. based intelligence think tank, however does not discount that lower level ISI operatives could have assisted the attack, "The possibility that jihadist sympathizers in the lower ranks of the Pakistani intelligence complex may have offered their services to the TTP cannot be ruled out, however. Given its history of dealing with Islamist nonstate proxies, the Pakistani intelligence apparatus is penetrated by the jihadists, which partially explains the ability of the TTP to mount a ferocious insurgency against the state." [source, Stratfor]
A video, obviously put together before the attack, but released thereafter, shows Balawi claiming credit for the bombing. Also in the video was new Pak Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud - his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, former Taliban leader, was killed in a U.S. drone attack in August.
Pakistan's ISI is widely understood to have been central to the rise of the Taliban, having given much aid throughout the 1990s. At one point, then prime minister Benazir Bhutto's government is believed to have provided funding for the group.
The ISI has also been implicated in other serious terrorist incidents including India's Mumbai bombing. As we reported in an October 1, 2006 piece [see, Musharraf's Pakistan Express Going Off The Rails - India Charges ISI With Collusion In Mumbai Bombing, https://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=mumbai100106.htm]
On Saturday Indian security officials revealed the most ominous aspect of this story, stating that Pakistan's ISI was responsible for the planning of the July 11 Mumbai commuter train terror bombing which killed over 200 and injured upwards of 700 people.
As the Times UK is reporting in its Sunday edition: "We have solved the July 11 bombings case. The whole attack was planned by Pakistan's ISI and carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba and their operatives in India," AN Roy, Mumbai's police chief, told a packed news conference." [see, India Blames Pakistan Spies For Bombs, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article656626.ece ]
It seems clear, now approaching ten years into the war against radical Islam, that unless or until the ISI's links to jihadi violence can be addressed, a key strength of al-Qaeda and the terrorist network will remain unchecked.
So too the realization that as significant as the U.S. drone attacks have been, without boots on the ground taking and holding the real estate from which the attacks are launched, the net effect will merely be to cycle through jihadi commanders as they are occasionally taken out, while little affecting the overall thrust of their combined efforts.
For additional perspective on these issues also see our November 7, 2007 piece U.S. State Department Delusional If It Sees Bhutto As The Answer.
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