Pakistan’s powerful spy agency may have provided the funding for a deadly 2009 suicide attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan that ranks as one of the deadliest days in the agency’s history, according to a newly declassified State Department cable.
The heavily redacted cable, sent about two weeks after the attack on Dec. 30, 2009, reports on a meeting between operatives belonging to the Haqqani network, a highly capable al Qaeda-linked terror group, and unidentified officers with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. According to the cable, which was released Wednesday, the ISI was suspected of giving the Haqqani network $200,000 to “enable” the attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman in Afghanistan’s Khost province.
The Chapman attack killed seven CIA officers and a Jordanian intelligence operative. It was carried out by a double agent, a Jordanian named Hammam Khalil Mohammed, who was invited onto the base to help the agency track down senior al Qaeda operatives. When he blew himself up during a meeting with senior CIA officials responsible for hunting al Qaeda, he greatly hindered Langley’s effort to dismantle the terror network.
While Pakistan’s ISI has a well-known record of supporting Islamist militant groups, its funding of the Chapman attack remains unconfirmed. The cable notes that it is an “information report” and “not finally evaluated intelligence.” The CIA did not answer questions Wednesday about the report’s veracity, or whether stronger intelligence proves that the ISI funded the Chapman bombing.
The National Security Archive at George Washington University published the cable, which was part of a trove of documents received under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Another State Department cable, also published Wednesday, reported that leaders of the Haqqani network were suspected of meeting monthly with the ISI in Islamabad as of late December 2009 — around the time of the Chapman bombing. The ISI provided the Haqqani network during these meetings with an “unknown amount of funding” for “unspecified operations,” the cable reported.
In December 2009, the ISI and Haqqani network met twice, according to that cable. During the first meeting, they “discussed funding for operations” in Khost province. During the second, ISI provided “direction to the Haqqanis to expedite attack preparations and lethality in Afghanistan.”
Other documents published by the National Security Archive give new insights into the Haqqani funding sources.
The ISI has a long history of playing both sides in America’s long war against radical Islamist groups in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Anticipating an eventual American withdrawal from Afghanistan, Islamabad has cultivated close ties with Afghan militants, providing them with funds and arms.
Pakistani intelligence officials believe their relationship with Afghan militants, such as the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban, provides Islamabad with a decisive advantage in its contest with India, Pakistan’s historic enemy, for influence in Afghanistan.
At the same time, Pakistan has accepted billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid from the United States after helping Washington combat Islamist terror groups following the 9/11 terror attacks.
Pakistani armed forces are carrying out an offensive in the country’s tribal areas against the Pakistani Taliban, which has been responsible for a spate of recent deadly bombings. Just last month, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban killed more than 70 people in an Easter bombing targeting Christians celebrating in Lahore.
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