Pakistan Security Brief
Thirty-two killed in suicide bombing in Hangu; Clinton arrives in Pakistan for talks; Pakistan moves to close three military intelligence liaison centers; Bin Laden and his aides had discussed negotiating a deal to hide in Pakistan; Pakistani officials have decided to allow the CIA to send a forensics team; WikiLeaks publishes diplomatic cable on Khan resignation; Diplomatic reveals conditions for Abdul Qadeer Khan’s release; Clashes in Khyber Agency, Ceasefire agreed to in Kurram Agency; Headley provides further testimony at Rana trial; Four militants killed in Kashmir.
Suicide bombing in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
- At least thirty-two people were killed and fifty-six others wounded in Hangu on Thursday when a suicide bomber carrying around 1,000 pounds of explosive material detonated his bomb near several government buildings, including the district commissioner's office. A spokesperson for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ehsanullah Ehsan, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in response to the killings of five Chechens earlier this month in Balochistan. Since the May 2 raid by the U.S. military that killed Osama bin Laden, more than twenty attacks have occurred in Pakistan that have killed around 150 people.[i]
- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Pakistan on Thursday for talks with top civilian and military leaders. Clinton was accompanied by Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Clinton articulated Washington's "strong commitment" to its relationship with Pakistan and declared that the U.S. possessed "absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest level of the Pakistani government" knew about bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan. Clinton also argued that Pakistan should understand that “anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not make problems disappear.” Meanwhile, Pakistan has moved to close three military intelligence liaison centers in Quetta and Peshawar which serve as “conduits for the United States to share satellite imagery, target data and other intelligence with Pakistani ground forces conducting operations against militants.” While in Islamabad, Admiral Mullen is expected to discuss Pakistan’s demands for a decreased U.S. military presence with Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.[ii]
Bin Laden Raid and Response
- On Thursday, U.S. officials stated that documents seized from the Abbottabad compound have revealed that bin Laden and his aides had discussed negotiating a deal with Pakistan in which “al Qaeda would refrain from attacking the country in exchange for protection inside Pakistan.” However, the officials declared that they have found no evidence that the proposal was raised with Pakistani authorities.
- Pakistani officials have decided to allow the CIA to send a forensics team to examine the Abbottabad compound where Osama bin Laden was killed. The team has been permitted to utilize sophisticated equipment to search for materials that may have been concealed inside walls or buried. U.S. sources said that a “CIA team is expected to arrive at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, within days and that the objective is to scrub the site for items that were not recovered by American commandos during the raid early this month or by Pakistani security forces who secured the facility afterward.” CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell had asked for access to the Abbottabad site while on his visit to Islamabad last week. The CIA has additionally requested the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to assist in identifying and locating people who were previously seen entering and leaving the Abbottabad residence.[iii]
- WikiLeaks has published a U.S. diplomatic cable that reveals that in the wake of former attorney general Makhdoom Ali Khan’s resignation from the cabinet, then-U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson wrote that “We will not be sorry to see Khan go, as he blocked further negotiations on the bilateral investment treaty over concerns about investor-state arbitration and other issues.” Patterson also discussed Khan’s replacement, Malik Qayyum, who she viewed as a controversial appointment due to his “checkered history.”[iv]
- A separate diplomatic cable reveals that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb” charged with running a proliferation ring, had agreed “with the Pakistan government to a stringent set of conditions that restricted his movement and curtailed his interactions, ensuring that his release remained, by and large, symbolic.” The conditions had never been publicized before but had been previously speculated about. Then-U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson wrote that Dr. Khan had accepted, among other conditions, “that he would not request any visits to any ‘strategic organizations or their subsidiaries.’ He would not call any person working in those organizations for a meeting ‘without the prior permission of the Authorities.’ He would inform the authorities of any visit to outstation destinations ‘48/24 hours in advance.’” [v]
- Four people were killed and five others were wounded in a clash between Zakha Khel tribesmen and Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) militants in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency. The Zakha Khel tribesmen had attempted to take control of LI-held areas in Narray Baba, resulting in a fire fight between the two groups.[vi]
- Four people were killed and eighteen others were injured in the Balesh Khel area of Kurram Agency before elders of the Turi and Bangash tribes agreed to a ceasefire. Elders of six tribes in the Ahl-e-Sunnat area had declared a ceasefire in the Sadda sub-district a day prior. Educational institutions in the area have remained closed, as has the key Thall-Parachinar Road.[vii]
Tahawwur Rana Trial
- On Thursday, David Headley provided further testimony at the trial of Tahawwur Rana, the Chicago resident charged with providing material support in connection to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Headley declared that though he was initially proud of his role in the attacks, he no longer possesses the same feelings. Headley also told the court that he had participated in over fifty training sessions with the ISI. Before the training sessions, he would brief his alleged ISI handler, Major Iqbal, who utilized a U.S. cell phone to communicate. [viii]
- Four militants were killed in two separate gun battles in Kashmir. On Thursday, a top local commander of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group was killed along with his bodyguard. A local police officer said that "Qari Zubair was active in south Kashmir for the last five years and was one of the most wanted foreign militants." In a separate gunfight, two militants were killed by Indian security forces in an operation on Friday in Sopore town. Eight suspected militants have been shot dead by Indian troops in the Kashmir region since Monday.[ix]