The Pulse

Did Pakistani Intelligence Back Terrorists Against the CIA in Afghanistan?

A newly declassified U.S. diplomatic cable suggests Pakistani intelligence was complicit in abetting the Taliban in an attack against the CIA.

Did Pakistani Intelligence Back Terrorists Against the CIA in Afghanistan?
Credit: Khalid Mahmood

A new document, made public this week by the nongovernmental National Security Archive at George Washington University, makes the impactful claim that an “unidentified” Pakistani intelligence officer paid $200,000 to the Haqqani network to carry out a suicide attack on a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in eastern Afghanistan in 2009. The Haqqani network is a militant group active on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and is closely linked with the Taliban.

The attack occurred at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan’s Khost province on December 30, 2009, and was carried out by a Jordanian double agent loyal to militants affiliated with al-Qaeda, Humam Khalil al-Balawi. Seven people working with or for the CIA died, making the attack the second-deadliest ever incident in CIA history.

According to the still heavily redacted document, marked “secret,” a certain Afghan border commander of the Khost provincial force was promised $100,000 for his assistance in enabling a suicide mission by an “unnamed Jordanian national.”

The involvement of Pakistan in this attack is disputed by many officials in both Pakistan and the United States. According to an American official quoted in the Washington Post, the information contained in the document clashes with the prevalent theories among the CIA:

The document clearly states that it contains unevaluated information…The Haqqanis are brutal terrorists who continue to target innocent people, including Americans. Nonetheless, the general consensus is that the 30 December attack was primarily an al-Qaeda plot and did not involve the Haqqani network.

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Additionally, the Taliban claimed at that time to have motives for the attack, namely to get revenge for the deaths of Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders who were previously killed by drone strikes. This, however, does not rule out cooperation between the Taliban and Pakistan, as there are many low-level linkages between the militants and the state military-intelligence community.

Pakistan denied any link to the attacks, with a foreign ministry spokesman referring to allegations of Pakistan’s involvement with the Haqqani Network as “preposterous,” before adding that, “in fact, we were shocked and deeply saddened when precious American lives were lost at the Chapman facility in 2009.”

While the United States and Pakistan will continue to cooperate in many areas for the sake of necessity, these allegations certainly do not bode well for the perception of Pakistan in the United States, a country that the U.S. president himself has serious doubts about considering an “ally.”