Deep Background

Article excerpt

In the fighting in AfPak, it's important to know who your friends are. It's also important to know whether and why they might be angry with you. Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence is one of the world's most ruthless intelligence agencies and comes second to none in sheer duplicity. The ISI contains pro- and anti-Taliban elements, as well as factions favorable and hostile to the government they ostensibly serve. Concealed within the ranks are numerous Islamists, some of whom merrily plot terrorist attacks against neighboring India and Afghanistan. They work with the United States when they feel inspired to do so.

The U.S. has often been reluctant to provide tactical intelligence to Pakistan because the shared information frequently winds up in the hands of the Taliban or even al-Qaeda. Many believe rogue ISI elements actually protect al-Qaeda forces in Waziristan. ISI is also a business, cooperating with the Americans just enough to keep the money flowing, while nurturing narco-trafficking arrangements to move drugs out of Afghanistan and into Russia.

The May 2002 suicide-bomber attack on a bus in Karachi in southern Pakistan, which killed 11 French naval engineers, was originally attributed to al-Qaeda-linked jihadist radicals, but investigating magistrates in France slowly working their way through the evidence have come up with a different story. French intelligence now believes that the attacks might have been organized by members of Pakistan's intelligence services as payback for Paris cutting off millions of dollars in kickback payments that had been part of a 1994 submarine purchase. …