Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

What Pakistan's Intelligence Ties Say About Ending Terrorism
The International Herald Tribune today reports on a recent CIA mission to Pakistan to confront leaders of the ISI there about the ties ISI members retain to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The CIA assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The CIA has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.

This is not new, but is useful when juxtaposed with the conclusions of the new and very useful Rand Corporation report on how to end terrorism.

While the central argument of the study is to make police work and intelligence the backbone of the counterterrorism efforts, it also argues strongly for a greatly reduced U.S. military presence and overall reduced footprint abroad.

Make policing and intelligence the backbone of U.S. efforts. Al Qa'ida consists of a network of individuals who need to be tracked and arrested. This requires careful involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as their cooperation with foreign police and intelligence agencies.

Minimize the use of U.S. military force. In most operations against al Qa'ida, local military forces frequently have more legitimacy to operate and a better understanding of the operating environment than U.S. forces have. This means a light U.S. military footprint or none at all.

The problem with that approach, particularly in Afghanistan and along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border is precisely that many of those who are classified as allies in combating radical Islamist are, in fact, not allies at all.

The CIA's often less than careful involvement with the ISI, and cooperation with local police and intelligence agencies simply provides information to the enemy.

The solution often cannot be the liaison relationships with other services. For many, the groups we consider to be hostile are heros, martyrs and allies to those services. Establishing something in common, and building trust, is virtually impossible.

I am not arguing against the basic thrust of the report on the need, in a broad sense, to rely less on the military to do the vast bulk of counterterrorism work.

The fact is that the military has often been thrust into roles it is not equipped and does not want to handle. They get the job because they are on the ground where few other US agencies are, including the CIA.

The solution, in part, has to be to get others out there, including the intelligence community, so the ability to understand and counter al Qaeda comes from a broader breadth of experience than simply the military.

But this is not possible as long as US embassies are largely shells of their former selves, with greatly reduced staffs and the inability of diplomats to actually get out and do their jobs. And this includes the station chiefs and agents in many instances.

The military does what it does, and it does it well. But it has been asked to do too much. A shift in policy toward more intelligence and police work, however, is extremely problematic, given the history of human rights abuses and internal terror of many of those with whom U.S. agencies would have to engage.

It would also require a significant shift in resources, something that is unlikely as long as the war in Iraq is going on and Afghanistan continues to threaten to fall apart.

It seems to me unlikely another warning from the CIA to the ISI will be productive. The warnings have come and gone, and at the end of the day, the ISI remains an unreliable ally, if an ally at all.

Deja vu All Over Again
The International Muslim Brotherhood and Darfur
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC