Another US diplomat detained in Pakistan over traffic accident that injured two

US embassy Islamabad PakistanAnother American diplomat was detained in Pakistan last week, following the second serious traffic accident involving United States diplomatic personnel in Islamabad in less than a month. The incidents are said to be contributing to ongoing diplomatic tensions between the United States and Pakistan. Many in the South Asian country remain angry about a controversial episode in 2011, when a Central Intelligence Agency officer serving at the US consulate in Lahore killed two men by shooting them in the head with a Glock pistol. The CIA officer, Raymond A. Davis, told Pakistani police that the two men had tried to rob him. He was eventually released from detention due to his diplomatic immunity, but only after the personal intervention of the then Secretary of State John Kerry, and after Washington offered monetary compensation to the two dead men’s families.

In the latest incident, Pakistani authorities detained an American diplomat on Sunday, after his Toyota SUV ran over two men riding on a motorcycle in Islamabad. The diplomat, identified in Pakistani media as the US embassy’s Second Secretary Chad Rex Ausburn, was accused by police of having been involved in a hit-and-run incident in the Pakistani capital. According to local reports, Ausburn refused to emerge from his vehicle immediately following the accident, but eventually stepped out and identified himself to police officers. They then took him into custody and impounded his vehicle, which is believed to belong to the US embassy. Ausburn was released once the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed his diplomatic status, which grants him immunity from prosecution. The two men injured in the accident are said to be in stable condition at a nearby hospital. Police have reportedly charged the driver of the motorcycle with reckless driving.

However, Pakistani authorities have also charged Taimur Iqbal Pirzada, a security adviser for the US embassy in Islamabad, with seeking to obstruct the police investigation into Sunday’s incident. Pirzada stands accused of trying to stop police officers from detaining Ausburn and impounding his vehicle. He was released on bail on Monday and is currently awaiting trial. US State Department spokesman Nolen Johnson told The New York Times on Monday that the issue involving Ausburn had been “resolved” and that the US government had been “in close contact with Government of Pakistan officials on this matter”. This past April, Pakistani authorities barred another American diplomat from leaving the country, after the car he was driving was involved in an accident in Islamabad, which left a motorcyclist dead. The US embassy’s military attaché, Colonel Joseph E. Hall, remains in Pakistan. Authorities there have demanded that the US Department of State rescinds his diplomatic immunity, so he can face a criminal trial. But the US government has so far refused to grant Islamabad’s request.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 01 May 2018 | Permalink | Research credit: C.F.

Pakistan halts intelligence cooperation with US, but US embassy denies knowledge

Khurram Dastgir KhanPakistan said on Tuesday that it had suspended military and intelligence cooperation with the United States in the wake of Washington’s decision to stop security assistance to Pakistan. On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Minister of Defense, Khurram Dastgir Khan, said that his country had terminated all cooperation with the US in the areas of defense and intelligence. He said that the move was a response to the announcement by US President Donald Trump last week that Washington would stop providing security assistance to Pakistan. American officials stated that the change in policy took place because Pakistan had allegedly deceived America in the global war on terrorism. On Thursday last week, the President Trump accused the Pakistani government of having given the US “nothing but lies and deceit”. Trump’s accusation was followed by an official statement by the Pentagon, which said that Pakistan should cease to provide “sanctuaries in its territory for Taliban and Haqqani network leaders and operatives”.

On Tuesday, while speaking at a conference in Islamabad, Defense Minister Khan said that Pakistan had suspended “a wide field of intelligence cooperation and defense cooperation”. He was speaking during a conference hosted by the Institute of Strategic Studies, which is a government-sponsored think-tank based in the Pakistani capital. Khan accused the US of treating Pakistan as a “scapegoat” for its military and political failures in neighboring Afghanistan. He also warned Washington that Pakistan would not allow America’s war in Afghanistan to be fought on Pakistan’s territory. He ended his talk, entitled “Contours of Security Environment of Pakistan”, with what he described as “a reminder”, saying that Washington needs Pakistan’s support in its efforts against the Taliban and the Islamic State in Afghanistan: “Logistics trumps strategy”, he said.

But the Voice of America news service reported on Tuesday that the US embassy in Islamabad had no information about Khan’s announcement concerning Pakistan’s termination of military and intelligence cooperation with Washington. A spokesman at the embassy told the news service that the embassy had “not received any formal communication regarding a suspension” of military and intelligence cooperation by Islamabad. Last week, the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis insisted that his department kept open lines of communications with the Pakistani military leadership despite the suspension of security assistance by Washington. Islamabad said that communication lines with North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces remained open, but military cooperation with Washington had been terminated.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 10 January 2018 | Permalink

News you may have missed #510 (bin Laden edition)

  • Europe says US slow in sharing bin Laden intel. European security officials have lots of questions about the intelligence being analyzed from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, but so far they have seen very little of it, they say.
  • Did Pakistani official lead US to bin Laden? There are rumors in Pakistan that the CIA was tipped off about the location of bin Laden’s hideout from a walk-in informant at the US Embassy in Islamabad.
  • CIA interrogates bin Laden’s wives. US intelligence officials have interrogated the three wives of Osama Bin Laden who were left behind in his compound after Navy Seals shot dead the al-Qaeda leader. The women, Amal Ahmed Abdel-Fatah al-Sada, of Yemen, and Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar, both of Saudi Arabia, were apparently “hostile” and uncooperative during the interrogations

US-Pakistan spy ties still tense, despite alleged thaw

Cantt, Lahore

Cantt, Lahore

Last December, US officials accused Pakistani security agencies of conducting a “blatant harassment campaign [against] American diplomats”, which reportedly included “frequent checking of American diplomatic vehicles in major cities across the country”. Recent articles in the Pakistani press appear to confirm these reports, indicating that they may be connected with ongoing attempts by US intelligence to increase its limited footprint in Pakistan beyond the safety of the US embassy compound in Islamabad. One such case is in Cantt, Lahore’s military zone, where it appears American intelligence officers have covertly leased “an outpost of several houses”. It is not clear when precisely the Americans began leasing the houses. But the Pakistanis, who have surrounded Cantt with security checkpoints, noticed the increased traffic by vehicles carrying US personnel, and started insisting on inspecting them, as they do with all vehicles entering and exiting Cantt. Read more of this post

US embassy worker caught monitoring Pakistan naval site

Abdul Ghafoor's US embassy ID card

Ghafoor's ID card

Pakistani news outlets have reported the arrest last month of an employee at the US embassy in Islamabad who was reportedly caught monitoring Pakistan’s Naval Headquarters at Zafar Chowk, a site targeted by a suicide bomber on December 3. Leading Pakistani daily The Nation published the US embassy identity card of the man, Abdul Ghafoor, who was reportedly apprehended by Pakistani Naval Police and intelligence officers in the morning of November 18. Interestingly, Ghafoor, who was said to have been acting “suspiciously”, was found to be carrying a camera with him, and to be riding a motorcycle “with a number plate that was found to be fake when checked”. Several commentators have suggested that the case points to a routine surveillance operation, which warrants further investigation in light of the December 3 suicide bombing attack at the Naval Headquarters. Read more of this post

US wont’ share al-Qaeda intelligence, say Pakistani spies

Quetta, Pakistan

Quetta, Pakistan

A number of senior Pakistani security officials have accused US spy agencies of systematically withholding from their Pakistani counterparts actionable intelligence on al-Qaeda and Taliban activities in Pakistan. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials complained to The Washington Times that the last time the CIA shared actionable intelligence on al-Qaeda with the government of Pakistan was in 2007. They also said that recent public assertions by US officials that senior al-Qaeda leaders are hiding in Quetta, Pakistan, have not been followed with corresponding actionable intelligence by US spy agencies. The allegations shed further light on the increasingly severed intelligence relationship between Washington and Islamabad, which began shortly before the 2008 ousting of American-supported Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0101

  • Red Army Faction member was on German spy service payroll. German media report that Verena Becker, a former member of the militant student organization Red Army Faction, who was arrested last week in connection with a murder committed thirty years ago, worked as an informant for the German secret services.
  • Pakistanis worried about US embassy expansion. In a rare article in the English-speaking press, The Washington Post examines the Pakistani population’s opposition to the planned expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad.
  • A.Q. Khan tells all about Pakistani nuclear program. Recently released from house arrest, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb has given an interview to a Pakistani television station, in which he reveals that Pakistan was able to detonate a nuclear device within a week’s notice in as early as 1984.

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Former spy chief reveals CIA operations against Pakistani nuclear program

Imtiaz Ahmad

Imtiaz Ahmad

This news is currently making headlines all over the Arabic and Muslim world, but is not reported on any US news site: retired Pakistani ISI officer and former Intelligence Bureau (IB) director, Imtiaz Ahmad (a.s. Ahmed), has said he was personally involved in foiling two CIA operations targeting Pakistan’s nuclear program. Speaking on Tuesday to Pakistan’s News International, Imtiaz revealed details about the ISI’s operation RISING SUN (1979), which involved the alleged unmasking of Rafiq Munshi, a US-trained Pakistani nuclear scientist, who Ahmed says was a CIA agent. The operation also resulted in the exposure of several undercover CIA agents, posing as diplomats, stationed in the US embassy in Islamabad and the consulate in Karachi. Read more of this post

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