Hindu Vivek Kendra
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US feared ISI during Clinton's Pakistan visit: Report

US feared ISI during Clinton's Pakistan visit: Report

Publication: Rediff on Net
Date: November 30, 2001
URL: http://www.rediff.com/news/2001/nov/30clint.htm

A belief among United States security agencies that Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence was 'badly penetrated by terrorists', including those from Al Qaeda, had prompted them to undertake major diversionary tactics during the visit of President Bill Clinton to Pakistan last year, according to a prominent American daily.

"An empty Air Force One was flown into the country (Pakistan) and the president made the trip in a small unmarked plane. Later, his motorcade stopped under an overpass and Clinton changed cars," The New York Times said quoting former US security officials.

"The fear was that Pakistani security forces were so badly penetrated by terrorists that extremist groups, possibly, including Osama bin Laden's network Al Qaeda, would learn of the president's travel route from sympathisers within the ISI and try to shoot down the plane," it said.

However, Clinton had 'overruled' other steps by the secret service and went ahead with the trip.

Quoting ex-officials as saying that CIA had close links with ISI earlier and these relations were not maintained in 1990s, the report said in the late nineties 'the CIA equipped and financed a special commando unit that Pakistan had offered to create to capture Laden'.

"But this was going nowhere. The ISI never intended to go after Laden. We got completely snookered," it quoted a former official as saying.

Stating that tension between the CIA and ISI had grown only in the recent years, the daily said, "In the 1980's when the CIA mounted the largest covert action programme in its history to support Afghan rebels against the Soviets, the Pakistani agency served as the critical link between CIA and the rebels at the front lines."

"While the CIA supplied money and weapons, it was the ISI that moved them into Afghanistan. The Americans relied almost entirely on the Pakistani service to allocate the weapons to rebel leaders," The New York Times said, adding after the Soviet pullout in 1989, CIA's relationship with ISI 'was neglected'.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the US authorities have stated that more than a third of those rounded up after the September 11 attacks and still in custody were people of Pakistani origin.

Pakistani daily Dawn quoted figures given by US Attorney General John Ashcroft saying that of the 641 people detained in the US in connection with the attacks 'over 200 came to the United States from Pakistan'.

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