ISI paid Haqqani Network $200,000 for attack on CIA base: US cable

  • Rezaul H Laskar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 15, 2016 18:02 IST
According to the cable, the Haqqani Network was paid by Pakistan’s ISI to coordinate a suicide bombing and a CIA base in Afghanistan. (AFP Photo)

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency provided $200,000 to the Haqqani Network for a 2009 suicide bombing at a CIA base in Afghanistan, according to a newly declassified State Department cable.

The suicide attack on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman on December 30, 2009 killed seven CIA operatives and contractors, a Jordanian intelligence officer and an Afghan security official. Among the dead was the chief of the base, Jennifer Lynne Matthews, who was considered among the top American experts on Al Qaeda.

The attack was the second deadliest one on the CIA since the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Lebanon.

The heavily redacted cable, sent more than a month after the attack, reported on a meeting between operatives of the Haqqani network and unidentified officials of the ISI.

The cable was released on Wednesday by the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research body at The George Washington University that publishes classified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. It details the “Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence directorate and Haqqani Network involvement in the 30 December 2009 suicide attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman”.

The cable states that during “discussions at an unknown date between Haqqani, Salar, and an unidentified (ISI) officer or officers, Haqqani and Salar were provided 200,000.00 USD to enable the attack on Chapman”.

Salar, about whom no further details are available, “communicated the planning details” to one Mullawi alias Sakh. Sakh contacted Arghawan, the Afghan head of external security at Chapman, who was promised $100,000 for “his assistance to enable a suicide mission by an unnamed Jordanian national”.

Arghawan was among those who died when Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian, detonated his explosive belt inside the CIA base – an incident that featured in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” and former CIA chief Leon Panetta’s memoir “Worthy Fights”.

The CIA planned to use al-Balawi – who was recruited by the Jordanian intelligence – to infiltrate Al Qaeda as part of the search for Osama bin Laden. He was not searched at the CIA base because the Americans had come to trust him.

Another secret cable dated January 11, 2010, which too was released by the National Security Archive, reported on meetings between the leaders of the Haqqani Network and the ISI in Islamabad.

“As of late December 2009, at the end of every month, senior Haqqani Network leadership met with the ISID in Islamabad, the meetings were attended by Siraj Haqqani and Badruddin (Haqqani). ISID Colonel (Nasib) chaired the meetings. ISID Major (Daoud) and Sobedar (Zarim) were also in attendance, an unknown amount of funding was provided to the Haqqanis for use in unspecified operations during these meetings,” the cable said.

“There were two meetings between the ISID and the Haqqani Network leadership in December 2009. The first discussed funding for operations in Khowst province, these funds were later provided to tribal elders in Khowst province for their support of the Haqqani Network, the second meeting involved ISID direction to the Haqqanis to expedite attack preparations and lethality in Afghanistan.”

The ISI has for long been accused of backing the activities of the Haqqani Network, which has bases in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The Haqqani Network has also been linked to several attacks on Indian interests in Afghanistan, including a 2008 suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul.

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