Of Faulty US Intelligence Faryal Leghari
Of Faulty US Intelligence
Faryal Leghari (WORLD VIEW)Forward Operating Base Chapman is likely to gain case-study status in the hushed corridors of Langley. It denotes a fatal error in security at the CIA base in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan. As a result, the agency credibility has suffered a serious blow.
16 January 2010
16 January 2010
Â In a highly successful suicide attack, the CIA recruited asset, Jordanian national Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, managed to kill seven agents, including the base chief. A recent US Central Command (CENTCOM) report has criticised the state of intelligence in Afghanistan and called for sweeping reforms, an imperative war requirement. Given, that intelligence is immensely crucial to the counter-insurgency/terrorism war currently underway; the recent performance on that front does not bode well for the coalition.Â
The fact that Balawi also worked for Al Qaeda and the Jordanian Intelligence has added a complex mix to the brew. Double and even triple agents are nothing new in the sifting sands of the espionage world. However, Balawi's success in hoodwinking the CIA and Jordanian intelligence speaks volumes for his mastery in gaining their trust and the desperation of the agencies to grab any chance at getting through to the inner ring of Al Qaeda high command. Apparently, Balawi was being used to get to Ayman al Zawahiri, second in command to Osama bin Laden.
To top it all a recently aired video shows Balawi sitting next to Hakimullah Mehsud, the new head of Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan, implying a definite Pakistani Taleban connection.Â While Al Qaeda has already claimed the attack, Balawi in his pre-attack video (date unknown) speaks of avenging the death of Baitullah Mehsud the former TTP head.Â It confirms recent assertions made by the TTP that it was targeting US operations in Afghanistan.Â Who exactly masterminded Base Chapman operation is not that important.Â The fact that it was successfully realised is what counts.Â Security analysts and intelligence specialists are of the opinion that different groups may be working in collusion in the region. Finally, they seem to have woken up to the realisation that the bad boys of all stripes â€”the Taleban, Al Qaeda, the Haqqani network, the TTP etcâ€”have entered a strategic insurgency alliance aimed at defeating the international forces. A typical consequence of foreign forces presence in areas populated by tribes and insurgent groups. It is ironic that different groups, even those who are engaged in power struggle, somehow cast aside differences and work in tandem in the face of an outside threat. Even if outside foreign military presence comes with good intentions, it is perceived as an occupying force and a threat.
A largely Al Qaeda import from Iraq to Pakistan, suicide attacks are now staple occurrence especially among the TTP cadres and a choice method of warfare.Â However, to date, the TTP has targeted only the Pakistani state. While former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination is believed to be carried out by TTP, the organisation's claim to fame came from its successful cultivation of a terror network, hardened recruits and employment of brutal tactics, including butchering and slaying of captive soldiers.
With the Pakistan armed forces targeting TTP positions in South Waziristan, many of the operatives reportedly dispersed in surrounding agencies and fled across the border in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taleban have rejected claims made by TTP leadership of their support in Afghanistan, but the recent video confirms these assertions to some extent. While Balawi had obvious links with TTP leadership, the attack itself is likely to have been an Al Qaeda operation.
Balawi's case deserves more than a cursory viewing.Â It reaffirms the argument of the elite jihadist, a concept that negates the typical formula of poverty + lack of education + social betterment opportunities = radicalisation. An insight into what tripped Balawi towards an extremist path came from his family. The fact that the Jordanian doctor was picked up and interrogated by the Jordanian intelligence for three days at the time of the last Israeli offence in Gaza led to his decision of adopting a radical line.Â It may well have been the catalyst that pushed him over to the extreme. Balawi is believed to have been writing in support of Palestinians on some extremist websites. It is not certain when or how he may have established contact with Al Qaeda. What is noteworthy is that in such a short period of time, Balawi proved his worth as a valuable asset. More interesting is the reaction of the Balawi's close family members who have defended his attack against Americans. The impassioned avowal of supporting such acts is mind boggling for many in the US. What has America done to deserve such hatred and suffer such attacks? The answer may well come from an honest appraisal of its policies. Something, Washington is loathe to do. What is incomprehensible to US policy makers is the connection between Muslim grievances and the war on terror. The US fails to realise that a perpetuation of its policies especially the ones in support of Israel and its couched foreign policy agenda including invasion of Iraq and its presence in Afghanistan has spawned Muslim radicalism to an extent that it is a global phenomenon. Drone strikes, killing of innocent civilians, subjecting injustices in Abu Ghuraib, Guantanamo Bay and Bagram have all contributed to strengthening the perception that US agenda is anti Muslims. It is well exploited by Al Qaeda and others.
No wonder that hundreds of cellular organisations have cropped up worldwide and have established allegiance with Al Qaeda. That is why killing or capturing bin laden or Zawahiri is hardly going to sweep the board clean or make homeland America a safer place.
The core issue of Palestine is especially significant for its inadvertent impact on shaping a radical mindset. Procrastination on resolving the Palestine-Israel dispute marked by an obvious reluctance to push Israel anymoreâ€” beyond the initial freeze settlements demand that quickly turned to a quiet 'restraint'â€” is hardly helping matters. President Obama as a result has damaged his credibility and lost goodwill and trust of millions of Muslims worldwide who were more than willing to give him a chance to redeem the sins of the previous regimes. Similarly Kashmir long relegated to the backburner needs immediate addressing.
Millions of dollars of aid and development projects being poured into conflict and radicalised areas are not going to help matters when they are perceived as blood money.
Washington may deply another half a million soldiers in Afghanistan but it cannot achieve its objectives unless it is ready to fight its own demons. It needs to disassociate itself from allies that have only managed to contribute to its downfall and have caused irreparable damage to its image. More than that all the good and positive embodied in the US system stands nullified when it chooses to pursue a course of self destruction. It is time for a change within.
Faryal Leghari is Assistant Editor of â€¨Khaleej Times and can be reached at email@example.com
Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." Â --
Albert Einstein !!!