Pakistan backed off from supporting the Harkat-ul-Ansar, a terror group it used as a proxy against India, in the late 1990s fearing the US would put it on the list of "state sponsors of terrorism", according to a CIA report.
In its report of August 1996 that was recently declassified, the CIA acknowledged the role played by the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA) in several attacks inside Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India, including the Lajpat Nagar market bombing of May 1996.
Referring to some diplomatic reports, the CIA said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency provided “at least $30,000 – and possibly as much as $60,000 – per month" to the Harkat-ul-Ansar.
A redacted version of the report "Harkat ul-Ansar: Increasing Threat to Western and Pakistani Interests" was posted by the CIA on its website under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), similar to India's Right to Information Act.
Based on intelligence obtained by the US embassy in New Delhi, the report said the Harkat-ul-Ansar was planning to carry out terrorist actions against civilian airliners.
This was three years before the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC814 from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999.
“Attacks on civilian aircrafts in India could well involve Western casualties, given the numbers of Western tourists in that country,” the CIA report said.
Sentences of this part of the report were redacted by the CIA.
However, the CIA warned that the sudden decline in Islamabad’s support to the Harkat-ul-Ansar could be detrimental to the security of Pakistan. “Islamabad's compliance with US and UK demand to cease its support for the HUA and crack down on the group's activities could be costly to Islamabad,” it said.
“Pakistan is unlikely to accede fully, but any strong actions aimed at stopping the group's activities might prompt the HUA to retaliate,” the CIA warned.
“Although the HUA's operations are primarily targeted against India, some of the group's rhetoric and past actions demonstrate a hostility toward Islamabad that could be fuelled by a loss of Islamabad's patronage,” the report said.