Pakistan Security Brief - May 23, 2011

Mullah Omar rumored dead; Karachi naval base attacked; WikiLeaks: U.S. forces embedded with Pakistani troops; Madrassas strengthened through charitable organizations from Saudi Arabia and UAE; Diplomatic cable: Haqqani network protected by army; Police outnumbered in Karachi; Former PM Nawaz Sharif feared arrest upon returning to Saudi Arabia; Bhutto had requested security from U.S.; Zardari: Singh does not understand constraints; Indian disapproval of plan to appoint special envoy for the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan region; Pasha asks Morrell to cease drone strikes in Pakistani territory; Thirty U.S. Special Operations forces trainers told to leave Pakistan following Davis incident; Trilateral meeting scheduled for next week; Pakistan and Afghanistan working to establish high-level joint commission; Trial of Tahawwur Rana set to begin this week; Al Qaeda had considered blowing up oil tankers;  Ayman al Zawahiri releases audio tape; Obama would repeat Abbottabad operation if another militant leader found in Pakistan; Wall Street Journal: Increased cooperation between U.S. intelligence agencies and military; Drone strike in NWA; Attack on NATO fuel tanker; Twelve militants killed in Orakzai; Clashes in Kurram; Associated Press details militant training camp in Ughi; PTI stages two-day sit-in; Chinese officials agree to take over operations of Gwadar Port; Separatist leaders in Indian Kashmir placed under house arrest.

 

Rumors of Mullah Omar’s Death

  • Afghan media outlets have reported on the rumored death of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban who has allegedly been living in Quetta, Pakistan for the past ten years. A spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), Lutfullah Mashal, said that Omar had disappeared in the past five days and that senior Taliban members have confirmed that they have been unable to contact him. A spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban has denied that Omar is dead and Pakistan's Interior minister Rehman Malik has also dismissed the report. NDS spokesman Meshal stated that General Hamid Gul, the former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, was moving him from Quetta to North Waziristan when he was killed.[i]
 
 

Karachi Naval Base Attacked

  • In one of the most serious attacks against the military since an assault on its Rawalpindi headquarters in October 2009, a naval base in Karachi was stormed on Sunday by Taliban militants, resulting in the deaths of at least twelve security officers and fourteen other casualties. Up to twenty Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) assailants entered Naval Station Mehran and set off explosives within the facility, ultimately destroying two U.S.-supplied P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft. Security officials sent in several dozen officers to battle the assailants, resulting in fighting that lasted over eighteen hours before Pakistani troops retook the naval base. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the militants who participated in the attack were killed by security forces. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani issued a statement condemning the attack, stating that such a "cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism.” Six American contractors were on the base at the time of the attack, but were not harmed. A spokesperson for the TTP said that the attack was in response to the “martyrdom” of Osama bin Laden and that the assailants were prepared with enough food and ammunition to last them three days. Earlier reports suggested that the militants had taken hostages but navy sources have denied that hostages were taken during the attack.[ii]
 

WikiLeaks

  • A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said that the Pakistani “military had twice, in late 2009, approved the deployment of U.S. Special Operations teams to North Waziristan and South Waziristan to provide intelligence and surveillance assistance during Pakistani military operations.” The cable, signed by then-U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, stated that the cooperation would likely end if it became public. A separate cable written by Patterson revealed that U.S. special operations forces “were embedded with Pakistani troops for intelligence gathering by the summer of 2009 and deployed with them on joint operations in Pakistani territory by September that year.” Though the Pakistani military has issued a statement of denial, the cable reports that intelligence "fusion cells" were embedded with Pakistani military units during operations.[iii]
  • A diplomatic cable sent in November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, stated that “nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from [organizations] in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.” Hunt referred to a network of mosques and madrassas which has been strengthened through “charitable organizations” who would introduce families with financial difficulties to local Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith clerics who would offer to educate their children at a madrassa. The cable states that “children recruited would be given age-specific indoctrination and would eventually be trained according to the [madrassa] teachers’ assessment of their inclination “to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture.”[iv]
  • Diplomatic cables reveal a claim made by Awami National Party leader Senator Afrasiab Khattak, who alleged that the Haqqani network was being protected by the Pakistan military. Lynne Tracy, the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, reported that “Khattak described the Pakistani military as treating the Haqqanis ‘separately’ …from other militants.” Senator Khattak also condemned “a purported ISI plan to release Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) leader Sufi Mohammad.”[v]
  • An assessment by U.S. consulate general Stephen Fakan in April 2009 argues that police have often been outnumbered in Karachi by militant groups and political militias. The report also declares that “Very few of the groups are traditional criminal gangs. Most are associated with a political party, a social movement, or terrorist activity, and their presence in the volatile ethnic mix of the world’s fourth largest city creates enormous political and governance challenges.”[vi]
  • A diplomatic cable sent from the U.S. consulate in Jeddah on Sept 12, 2007 states that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thought he might be arrested upon returning to Saudi Arabia after being deported from Pakistan in 2007. According to the cable, Prince Muqrin had negotiated a deal with former Lebanese president Rafik Hariri to shelter Sharif for ten years in Pakistan, provided Sharif stay out of Pakistani politics. It states, “Prince Muqrin, Head of General Intelligence Presidency, Saudi Arabia, gave Sharif ‘two options – he could either stay at a palace that had been prepared for him, or at his home. He opted to go to his home.’” Meanwhile, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, Sharif requested the U.S. to provide technical expertise to ensure his own safety. According to newly released cables, Bhutto had asked the U.S. to provide her with security two months before her assassination, a request the U.S. refused. [vii]
  • A cable authored by then U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson, details a meeting between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in June 2009. Following the meeting, Zardari stated that Singh was "an excellent economist but he's not convinced the Indian PM understood [Zardari’s] constraints." Patterson wrote that "Zardari reiterated that Singh was unaware of what it took to 'change the mind-set of Pakistan's establishment,' given Pakistan's short history of fragile democratic regimes toppled by the military." The cable also reports that U.S. National Security Advisor General James Jones told Zardari to make certain that there would be no repeat of a Mumbai-style attack. A separate cable written by Patterson on Feb 16, 2008 reports on private discussions from 2008 about who would be Pakistan's new prime minister.[viii]
  • During a meeting with U.S. Ambassador David Mulford, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee reported India's strong disapproval of President Obama's plan to appoint a special envoy for the India-Pakistan-Afghanistan region, two weeks before Richard Holbrooke's appointment. The cable argued that “Such a broad mandate would be viewed by India as risky and unpredictable, exposing issues of vital concern to India to the discretion of the individual appointed.”[ix]
 

U.S.-Pakistani Relations

  • In a meeting between Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha and CIA deputy director Michael Morrell, Pasha reportedly asked Morrell to cease drone strikes in Pakistani territory. Pasha reportedly said, “We will be forced to respond if you do not come up with a strategy that stops the drone strikes.” Pakistani officials also allegedly asked the U.S. to provide a list of names of people employed by the CIA or other U.S. intelligence agencies who are operating within Pakistan. The two also reportedly conferred about an agreement on counterterrorism operations, though a framework has not been formalized.[x]
  • In the wake of the incident involving Raymond Davis, the CIA-affiliated security contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore, between twenty-five and thirty U.S. Special Operations forces trainers were told to leave Pakistan. The trainers had been assigned to Frontier Corps troops that operated in the tribal region. [xi]
  • The “trilateral meeting” of senior Pakistan, Afghanistan, and United States officials is set to be held next week in Kabul to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan and Afghanistan are working to establish a high-level joint commission that aims to manage direct negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. An unidentified official said that theU.S. will be part of the discussions on how to engage the Afghan Taliban for a political solution to the Afghan war.” [xii]
  • The trial of Tahawwur Rana, the Chicago resident charged with providing material support in connection to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, begins this week. Rana’s case is expected to publicly reveal details about ISI support for militant groups, though Pakistani officials have denied that the ISI was involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. David Headley, a Pakistani-American businessman who has admitted to his role in the attacks, will serve as a witness in the trial.[xiii]
 

Bin Laden Raid and Response

  • Documents obtained from bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad reveal that al Qaeda had considered blowing up oil tankers and commercial oil infrastructure in order to “provoke an ‘extreme economic crisis’ in the west.” Though there has been “no specific or imminent threat,” the terrorist organization reportedly mulled over taking bombs on board oil vessels and initiating test runs. Meanwhile, a jihadist website has posted an audio message from key al Qaeda figure Ayman al Zawahiri, recorded prior to bin Laden’s death. The speaker on the tape makes remarks on the “Arab Spring” and calls the United States the leader of "crusader enemies." The authenticity of the tape has not yet been confirmed.[xiv]
  • In an interview with the BBC, President Obama said that he would order “an operation similar to that which killed al Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden if another militant leader was found in Pakistan.” He said that though the U.S. recognized Pakistan’s sovereignty, the U.S. would not allow “active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action.”[xv]
  • The Wall Street Journal discusses how increased cooperation between U.S. intelligence agencies and the U.S. military contributed to the success of the raid that killed bin Laden. The “use of secret, unilateral missions powered by a militarized spy operation”…reflects newfound trust between two traditionally wary groups.”[xvi]
 

FATA

 

Militant Training Camp

  • A report issued by the Associated Press details a militant training camp in the Ughi area of Mansehra district, just thirty-five miles from where bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. Militant sources have said that the training complex is one of at least three in the area that house hundreds of recruits. According to the sources, the camps aim to “[take] recruits to Kashmir to fight Pakistan's archenemy, India. But Kashmiri veterans have been known to join forces with [al Qaeda] and other terror groups, including those fighting the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan and elsewhere.” Local villagers have said that the Pakistani military is aware of the camp, though the army denies it exists.[xxi]
 

Protests against Drone Strikes

 

Chinese to Take Over Operations of Port

 

Kashmir

 
 


[i] “Taliban leader Mullah Omar may be dead, Afghan official says,” CNN, May 23, 2011. Available at http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/05/23/afghanistan.omar/index.html
[ii] “Militants Attack Pakistani Base,” Associated Press, May 22, 2011. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/05/22/world/asia/AP-AS-Pakistan.html?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto
[iii] Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard, “Pakistan ordered about a fifth of U.S. Special Forces trainers to leave the country as relations deteriorated,” Washington Post, May 20, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/bomb-targeted-at-us-vehicles-injures-13-in-pakistan-city/2011/05/20/AFryUb7G_print.html
[iv] Qurat u lain Siddiqui, “Saudi Arabia, UAE financing extremism in south Punjab,” Dawn, May 22, 2011. Available at
[v] Madiha Sattar, “ANP leaders said military protected Haqqanis, other militants,” Dawn, May 24, 2011. Available at
[vi] Idrees Bakhtiar, “‘Armed gangs outnumber police in Karachi,’” Dawn, May 24, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/23/armed-gangs-outnumber-police-in-karachi.html
[vii] Cyril Almeida, “Nawaz Sharif feared arrest after deportation in ’07,” Dawn, May 21, 2011. Available at
[viii] “WikiLeaks: 'Indian PM doesn't understand my constraints', Zardari tells US,” NDTV, May 20, 2011. Available at http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/wikileaks-indian-pm-doesnt-understand-my-constraints-zardari-tells-us-107240
[ix] Mukund Padmanabhan, “How India kept Kashmir out of U.S. Af-Pak envoy's brief,” The Hindu, May 21, 2011. Available at http://www.thehindu.com/news/the-india-cables/article2035576.ece?homepage=true
[x] Sumera Khan, “ISI asks US to stop drone strikes,” Express Tribune, May 22, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/173665/isi-asks-us-to-stop-drone-strikes/
[xi] Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard, “Pakistan ordered about a fifth of U.S. Special Forces trainers to leave the country as relations deteriorated,” Washington Post, May 20, 2011. Available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/bomb-targeted-at-us-vehicles-injures-13-in-pakistan-city/2011/05/20/AFryUb7G_print.html
[xii] “Pak-US-Afghan meeting in Kabul next week: FO,” The News, May 21, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=15889
[xiii] Sebastian Rotella, “Mumbai terror attack: US trial puts Pakistan spy agency in the dock,” Guardian, May 22, 2011. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/22/mumbai-terror-attack-pakistan-us-trial
[xiv] Damien Pearse, “Al-Qaida hoped to blow up oil tankers, Bin Laden documents reveal,” Guardian, May 20, 2011. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/20/al-qaida-oil-tankers-bin-laden
[xv] “US prepared to replicate Bin Laden raid: Obama,” Express Tribune, May 23, 2011. Available athttp://tribune.com.pk/story/173745/us-would-repeat-bin-laden-raid-obama/
[xvi] Siobhan Gorman and Julian Barnes, “Spy, Military Ties Aided bin Laden Raid,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2011. Available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704083904576334160172068344.html
[xvii] “US drone strike kills seven in North Waziristan,” AFP, May 24, 2011. Available at
[xviii] Manzoor Ali, “Khyber Agency: NATO tanker explosion kills 15 people,” Express Tribune, May 22, 2011. Available at http://tribune.com.pk/story/173202/15-dead-in-nato-tanker-fire-in-pakistan-officials/
[xix] “Gunship helicopters attack militant hideouts in Orakzai; eight killed,” Dawn, May 21, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/21/gunship-helicopters-attack-militant-hideouts-in-orakzai-eight-killed.html
[xx] “One killed as militants storm Kurram village,” The News, May 22, 2011. Available at http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=48405&Cat=7
[xxi] Chris Brummitt, “Accounts of militant training camp near bin Laden,” Associated Press, May 22, 2011. Available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110522/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_militant_camps
[xxii] “PTI holds protest in Karachi against drone attacks,” Dawn, May 21, 2011. Available at http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/21/pti-holds-protest-against-drone-attacks-in-karachi.html
[xxiii] “China to take control of Gwadar Port,” Express Tribune, May 21, 2011. Available at
[xxiv] “Authorities block separatist rally in Indian Kashmir,” AFP, May 21, 2011. Available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hCS-TmoVg0Aw65B0w8eDkZC19c2Q?docId=CNG.f668c1fb8957b79be4affa075893f4ac.e1