US forces hunting Osama in NAs, says Indian intelligence
NEW DELHI: Indian intelligence agencies have found the presence of American forces in Pakistan’s Northern Areas, trailing Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda and Taliban remnants. Much to the discomfiture of China, the US has set up a “secret shop” in the region as part of its covert special operations against militant outfits, claim intelligence agencies here.
Intelligence sources here said that besides the US Special Force units, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has also set up “listening posts” in Northern Areas to monitor communication.
Quoting sources in India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), The Tehelka weekly paper reported that the Pentagon’s Defence Intelligence Agency’s satellite intercepts had given rise to “credible evidence” that some parts of Northern Areas had been infiltrated by Al Qaeda militants.
Last October, Christina Rocca, the US assistant secretary of state for South Asia, and Nancy Powell, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, had visited the Northern Areas. Since then many Americans are visiting Gilgit and Baltistan to oversee development projects funded by USAID. The US Army had also conducted military exercises in Deosai, 30 kilometres from Skardu. Earlier, the Indian and US Special Forces had conducted high-altitude wafare exercise in Ladkah, just on this side of Skardu.
Indian intelligence agencies also believe that US intelligence operatives might have “developed” Shia border traders in Balochistan as “intelligence assets”. In their most covert operations in Northern Areas, the US Special Forces have also focused on local Shia groups to gather intelligence. They attribute Shia leader Aga Ziauddin Rizvi’s killing to his siding with the US forces.
B Raman, the former RAW additional secretary, also maintained that the Americans had set up a chain of monitoring stations in Gilgit and Baltistan to keep track of telephones and wireless communications. These centres, he claimed, are ostensibly run by the Inter-Services Intelligence and a number of US intelligence officers are attached to them—some of them US nationals of Afghan origin.
He claimed that US’s National Security Agency (NSA) had already its presence in the Northern Areas. For past many years, the NSA has been collecting signals from the space establishments of Kazakhstan and the nuclear establishments of China’s Xinjiang province. The NSA uses gadgets and technologies for penetrating foreign devices and telecommunication and computer networks. “Mostly, the NSA depends on the CIA, organisations, the Voice of America and academic institutions such as Carnegie Mellon for such assistance,” he said. iftikhar gilani