Intelligence: The Pakistani Connection


November 24,2008: The new government in Pakistan has apparently given the United States access to the Pakistani intelligence network in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. That helps explain the sharp increase in missiles exploding near terrorist leaders lately. The border area is where the Taliban and al Qaeda have had safe havens for a long time. Sort of. No place is safe from the missile armed U.S. Predator and Reaper UAVs. In the last three months, there have been more than two dozen U.S. missile strikes (usually with 107 pound Hellfires launched from Predator or Reaper UAVs) in Pakistan. The Taliban and al Qaeda have lost over a dozen senior leaders to these attacks.

At the same time, Pakistan is running a public relations campaign in support of these Hellfire attacks. It goes like this. These Hellfire missile attacks are not popular with most Pakistanis, who see these UAV operations as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. At the same time, Pakistan wants the attacks to continue, as the Hellfire missiles have killed dozens of key Taliban and al Qaeda leaders so far this year. This has helped make it possible for the Pakistani army to attack the Taliban and al Qaeda bases in Pakistan, without taking heavy casualties (and the risk of being forced to call off the attacks because of that).

But why not give Pakistan the UAVs and missiles and let them do the deed? Not possible, because of the large number of pro-terrorist personnel in Pakistani intelligence. With the U.S. making the attacks, there are no leaks. Intel information from the Pakistanis, plus what American operators obtain from their own spies in the border region, make it possible to locate terrorist leaders, without the bad guys getting warned by pro-terrorist operators in Pakistani intelligence. To make this work, the Pakistani government has to admit that the attacks are taking place (to appease many politicians under pressure from nationalist constituents), and keep protesting to the U.S., while simultaneously (and discreetly) feeding the Americans more information (especially from the hundreds of Islamic militants captured in the past few months) about Taliban and al Qaeda operations in Pakistan. The U.S. generally ignores the Pakistani protests, although placating press releases are issued periodically.

Pakistan has always had people in the tribal territories who would, usually for a fee, pass on information about who was where. This sort of information was collected just to try and maintain a sense of who was who in the tribal territories, and what they might be up to. The Pakistanis have known for several years that the al Qaeda people along the border were behind dozens of terror bombings in Pakistani cities, including several directed at senior Pakistani government officials. Thus killing al Qaeda leaders is popular with most Pakistanis, and the government makes much of any Hellfire strikes that do that. While the missile strikes often upset locals, most Pakistanis don't sympathize much. It's been that tribal support, or simply tolerance, that has brought much terrorism to Pakistan, and most Pakistanis would just like to see this madness disappear.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close