News you may have missed #539

Milt Bearden

Milt Bearden

►►Former CIA officer urges US-Pakistan reconciliation. During the 1980s, CIA officer Milt Bearden managed the CIA’s covert assistance to the Mujahedeen, who were fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan. This means Bearden was dealing with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) on an almost daily basis. He has now written an article for Foreign Policy journal, in which he advises CIA and ISI officials to “cut through the shrillness, the schoolyard taunts that characterize […] the current feud between their services; decide on what is worth fixing; agree on important common goals; and get to work”. He also reminds policymakers in Washington that America’s “influence in the Indian Ocean is slipping as China and India flex their growing economic muscle”, and that the US needs Pakistan’s assistance to remain relevant in that part of the world. ►►Pakistan spy director comes to US following aid cut. Meanwhile, Washington’s decision to withhold nearly a billion dollars in annual military aid to Pakistan has shaken up Islamabad. The Associated Press reports that high-level US-Pakistan meetings are quickly “unfolding”. One such meeting involves ISI’s fiery Director, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who just made an emergency visit to Washington, reportedly “for talks”. Pakistani officials insist, however, that “the trip was planned for some time”. Sure. In case you are wondering, Pasha’s visit went “very well“, according to both US and Pakistani officials. ►►Secret CIA site in Somalia revealed. While most intelligence observers are concerned with the latest US-Pakistan spat, Jeremy Scahill, one of America’s most tireless investigative reporters, has revealed that the CIA maintains a large secret site in Somalia. The site, says Scahill, is located right behind Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport, and contains over a dozen buildings, as well as several metal hangars, which house CIA aircraft. Inside the compound, CIA officers train Somali counterterrorist teams in their war against al-Shabaab (which he calls ‘as-Shabab’), a militant youth faction of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Members of the ICU went underground in late 2006, after Ethiopia launched a US-aided invasion of Somalia with the aim of curtailing the ICU’s grassroots support and preventing the solidification of the group’s rule in Somalia. Al-Shabaab represents the most militant of the ICU-led underground, and is said to be one of several groups in Somalia with significant al-Qaeda links. Scahill gave an extensive interview about this new revelation to Democracy Now! on July 13.

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