Highlights

 
Quotable
If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
Thomas Jefferson
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
September 9, 2008

Intel Council Warned Against Raids in Pakistan


by Gareth Porter

The National Intelligence Council, the U.S. intelligence community's focal point for estimating future developments, warned the George W. Bush administration last month that a decision to launch commando raids by U.S. troops against al-Qaeda-related targets in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier region would carry a high risk of further destabilizing the Pakistani military and government, according to sources familiar with the intelligence community's response to the issue.

That blunt warning was conveyed to the White House in an oral briefing by a top official of the NIC two or three weeks ago, according to Philip Giraldi, former operations officer and counter-terrorist specialist in the CIA Directorate of Operations, who maintains contacts with the intelligence community.

Another source, who has been briefed by NIC officials on the issue, confirms that the NIC message, representing a consensus in the intelligence community, was conveyed to the Bush administration in August, just as an intense debate over whether to carry out commando raids against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan was still under way.

The source, who asked not to be identified because of the confidentiality of his contacts with the NIC, said the White House was warned that if U.S. commando raids continued over a longer period of time, the NIC believes they could threaten the unity of the Pakistani military.

U.S. special operations forces based at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan carried out a commando raid in South Waziristan on Sept. 3, which reportedly killed as many as 20 people, most of whom were apparently civilians. Both the New York Times and Washington Post said top officials indicated this was only the beginning of wider campaign of raids against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in the frontier area of Pakistan.

The Pakistani government lodged a diplomatic protest over the raid, and the Pakistani parliament condemned it in a resolution.

The intelligence community believes U.S. military incursions into Pakistan will benefit the political-military organizations allied with the Taliban that are seeking to destabilize the national government in Islamabad.

Patrick Lang, former defense intelligence officer for the Middle East at the Defense Intelligence Agency, told IPS he understands the intelligence community issued a "pretty clear warning" against the commando raid. "They said, in effect, if you want to see the Pakistani government collapse, go right ahead," Lang said.

A key to the strategy of Islamic extremists in the FATA region in northwest Pakistan is believed to be winning over troops in both the Frontier Corps, the militia recruited from the local population, and the regular Pakistani army. The Pakistani military rejected a proposal earlier this year from U.S. military leaders for U.S. special operations officers to train units of the Frontier Corps in counter-insurgency, along with use of cash payments to obtain their cooperation against the Taliban and its allies.

But the intelligence community regards the Frontier Corps as already "wavering," the source familiar with NIC thinking says, and it is feared that U.S. military raids would cause more of those units to actively support the militant Islamic organizations in the FATA.

The intelligence community's greatest fear, according to the source, is the impact of anti-U.S. anger on the morale of the regular Pakistani army. One reason for that concern is the fact that a disproportionate percentage of the army officers serving in the region are Pashtun. The tribal population of the FATA is largely Pashtun, and if the U.S. commando raids continue beyond a few months, analysts believe they could provoke large-scale defections from the Pakistani army serving in the FATA.

Selig Harrison of the Center for International Policy, a veteran journalist and author specializing in Pakistan affairs, agreed in an interview that the raids, along with targeted missile strikes that have caused many civilian casualties, are likely to strain the loyalties of Pashtun army officers serving in the FATA.

In an article in the International Herald Tribune in August 2007, Harrison warned that the Pashtun-based radical movement in the northwest "could lead to the unification of the estimated 41 million Pashtuns on both sides of the border, the breakup of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the emergence of a new national entity, 'Pashtunistan,' under radical Islamist leadership."

Although the NIC is responsible for producing national intelligence estimates, it has not been asked to provide any estimate on the potential consequences of a policy of raids by U.S. special operations forces against targets in the FATA believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, according to the former CIA official.

Ironically, it was the July 2007 national intelligence estimate produced by the NIC on al-Qaeda that contributed to growing pressures for direct U.S. military actions in Pakistan. The conclusion of NIE that al-Qaeda enjoyed a safe haven in Pakistan, which had become the primary center of its operations worldwide, was highly publicized and highly charged politically.

The Pakistani military reacted to the U.S. raid last week by citing the danger that it would provoke new attacks by militants in the frontier area. The New York Times quoted the spokesman for the Pakistani military, Gen. Athar Abbas, as warning that, because of the killing of civilians, there is now a greater risk that tribesmen who have supported the Pakistani soldiers and opposed the Taliban in the past will shift their loyalties out of anger.

"Such actions are completely counterproductive and can result in huge losses, because it gives the civilians a cause to rise against the Pakistani military," Abbas was quoted as saying.

According to Pakistan's leading daily newspaper, Dawn, Pakistan's National Security Council received an intelligence report in June 2007 on the "Talibanization" of the region, which cited "the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan" and the "growing feeling among Muslims that they are under attack" as factors contributing to the "growing insurgency" in the region.

(Inter Press Service)

comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Despite Obama's Vow, Combat Brigades Will Stay in Iraq
    3/26/2009

  • McKiernan Gets Control of Disputed Raids
    3/21/2009

  • Plan to Split Taliban Lures Obama Deeper Into War
    3/17/2009

  • Iran's Anti-Israel Rhetoric Aimed at Arab Opinion
    3/10/2009

  • US Military Dominance in Mideast Proven a Costly Myth
    3/6/2009

  • Drawdown Plan May Leave Combat Brigades in Iraq
    2/28/2009

  • Obama Nixed Full Afghan Surge After Quizzing Brass
    2/21/2009

  • Commanders in Iraq Challenge Petraeus on Pullout Risk
    2/18/2009

  • Intel Estimate Muddied Iran's Nuclear Intent
    2/14/2009

  • Petraeus Leaked Misleading Story on Pullout Plans
    2/10/2009

  • Generals Seek to Reverse Obama Withdrawal Decision
    2/3/2009

  • Is Gates Undermining Another Opening to Iran?
    1/28/2009

  • Israel Rejected Hamas Cease-Fire Offer in December
    1/10/2009

  • Bush Plan Eliminated Obstacle to Gaza Assault
    1/6/2009

  • US Military Defiant on Key Terms of Iraqi Pact
    12/19/2008

  • Iran's Regional Power Rooted in Shia Ties
    12/17/2008

  • Is a US-Iran Deal on the Middle East Possible?
    12/16/2008

  • Economy, Ties with West Are Key to Iran Polls
    12/13/2008

  • Iranian Analysts Urge Obama Not to Delay Action on Talks
    12/12/2008

  • Iranian Leaders Debate Obama's Policy Freedom
    12/11/2008

  • JFK Episode Suggests Obama's Iraq Plan at Risk
    11/28/2008

  • Pact Will End Iraqi Dependence on US Military
    11/19/2008

  • US Task Force Found Few Iranian Arms in Iraq
    11/16/2008

  • Obama Pressured to Back Off Iraq Withdrawal
    11/13/2008

  • US Cutoff Threat Unlikely to Save Iraq Troop Pact
    10/30/2008

  • Final Text of Iraq Pact Reveals a US Debacle
    10/23/2008

  • Fears of Blowback Nixed Afghan Air Strikes in 2004
    10/21/2008

  • Afghan Peace Talks Widen US-UK Rift on War Policy
    10/10/2008

  • Bush Had No Plan to Catch Bin Laden After 9/11
    9/30/2008

  • Vested Interests Drove New Pakistan Policy
    9/18/2008

  • Intel Council Warned Against Raids in Pakistan
    9/9/2008

  • Why Iraqi 'Client' Blocked US Long-Term Presence
    9/2/2008

  • Georgia War Rooted in US Self-Deceit on NATO
    8/25/2008

  • Bush Covered Up Musharraf Ties With al-Qaeda, Khan
    8/20/2008

  • AP's Iran-Trained Hit Squads Story: Iraq News Nadir?
    8/18/2008

  • US Officials Admit Worry over a 'Difficult' al-Maliki
    8/16/2008

  • How Tenet Betrayed the CIA on WMD in Iraq
    8/9/2008

  • Bush Forced al-Maliki to Back Down on Pullout in 2006
    7/29/2008

  • Bush, US Military Pressure Iraqis on Withdrawal
    7/25/2008

  • Seismic Shift or Non-Decision by Bush on Iran?
    7/19/2008

  • Pullout Demand Signals Final Bush Defeat in Iraq
    7/11/2008

  • Did IAEA Revive Uranium Paper Issue Under Pressure?
    7/9/2008

  • Official Says Iran Accepts P5+1 Talks Proposal
    7/3/2008

  • Anti-Iran Arguments Belie Fearmongering
    7/1/2008

  • Fear of US-Sunni Ties Undercut Security Talks
    6/25/2008

  • Coercive Diplomacy Disputed at Centrist Meet
    6/14/2008

  • Bush Pledges on Iraq Bases Pact Were a Ruse
    6/13/2008

  • Fearing Escalation, Pentagon Fought Cheney Iran Plan
    6/11/2008

  • How Cheney Outfoxed His Foes on Iran and EFPs
    6/3/2008

  • Where Are Those Iranian Weapons in Iraq?
    5/22/2008

  • Maliki Stalls US Plan to Frame Iran
    5/15/2008

  • Pentagon Targeted Iran for Regime Change After 9/11
    5/6/2008

  • Petraeus Promotion Frees Cheney to Threaten Iran
    4/24/2008

  • Petraeus Hid Maliki Resistance to US Troops in Basra
    4/18/2008

  • Petraeus Testimony to Defend False 'Proxy War' Line
    4/8/2008

  • Embarrassed US Starts to Disown Basra Operation
    4/1/2008

  • Sadr Offensive Shows Failure of Petraeus Strategy
    3/27/2008

  • McCain's Gaffes Reflect Bush's Iran-al-Qaeda Myth
    3/22/2008

  • My Lai Probe Hid Policy that Led to Massacre
    3/16/2008

  • Dissenting Views Made Fallon's Fall Inevitable
    3/12/2008

  • Fallon's 'No Iran War' Line Angered White House
    3/8/2008

  • Sunni Insurgents Exploit US-Sponsored Militias
    3/4/2008

  • Iran Nuke Laptop Data Came from Terror Group
    3/1/2008

  • Accept Iran's Regional Role, Says French Envoy
    2/5/2008

  • US Officials Rejected Key Source on '94 Argentina Bombing
    1/24/2008
  • Leon Hadar is the author of Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan). He is the former United Nations bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post and is currently the Washington correspondent for the Business Times of Singapore. Visit his blog.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com