Tuesday, April 11, 2006

U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar - Los Angeles Times

U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar - Los Angeles Times:

"Though U.S. officials continue to praise Pakistan as a loyal ally in the war on terrorism, several documents on the flash drives show the military has struggled to break militant command and supply lines traced to Pakistan. Some of the documents also accused Pakistan's security forces of helping militants launch cross-border attacks on U.S. and allied forces.

Militant attacks on U.S. and allied forces have escalated sharply over the last half year, and once-rare suicide bombings are now frequent, especially in southern Afghan provinces close to infiltration routes from Pakistan.

A document dated Oct. 11, 2004, said at least two of the Taliban's top five leaders were believed to be in Pakistan. That country's government and military repeatedly have denied that leaders of militants fighting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan operate from bases in Pakistan.

The Taliban leaders in Pakistan were identified as Mullah Akhtar Osmani, described as a 'major Taliban facilitator for southern Afghanistan' and a 'rear commander from Quetta' in southwest Pakistan, and Mullah Obaidullah, said to be 'responsible for planning operations in Kandahar.'

At the time, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, his second-in-command Mullah Berader, and three other top Taliban commanders were all suspected of being in southern or central Afghanistan, according to the military briefing.

Another document said the Taliban and an allied militant group were working with Arab Al Qaeda members in Pakistan to plan and launch attacks in Afghanistan. A map presented at a 'targeting meeting' for U.S. military commanders here on Jan. 27, 2005, identified the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and Quetta as planning and staging areas for terrorists heading to Afghanistan.

One of the terrorism groups is identified by the single name 'Zawahiri,' apparently a reference to Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's deputy and chief strategist in Al Qaeda. The document said his attacks had been launched from a region south of Miram Shah, administrative capital of Pakistan's unruly North Waziristan tribal region.

In January, a CIA missile strike targeted Zawahiri in a village more than 100 miles to the northeast, but he was not among the 18 killed, who included women and children.

Other documents on the computer drives listed senior Taliban commanders and 'facilitators' living in Pakistan. The Pakistani government strenuously denies allegations by the Afghan government that it is harboring Taliban and other guerrilla fighters.

An August 2004 computer slide presentation marked 'Secret' outlined 'obstacles to success' along the border and accused Pakistan of making 'false and inaccurate reports of border incidents.' It also complained of political and military inertia in Pakistan.

Half a year later, other documents indicated that little progress had been made. A classified document from early 2005 listing 'Target Objectives' said U.S. forces must 'interdict the supply of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) from Pakistan' and 'interdict infiltration routes from Pakistan.'

A special operations task force map highlighting militants' infiltration routes from Pakistan in early 2005 included this comment from a U.S. military commander: 'Pakistani border forces [should] cease assisting cross border insurgent activities.'

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