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US officials convinced ISI continues to support terror groups

world Updated: Jun 05, 2012 09:03 IST

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There is an increasing conviction among US officials that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan continues to support terrorist groups and that the sanctuaries in Pakistan have allowed Afghan militants to sustain insurgency, a Congressional report has said.

"There is ongoing conviction among US officials that sanctuaries in Pakistan have allowed Afghan militants to sustain their insurgency and that elements of the ISI continue to support them," the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report.

"Some reporting has cited Afghan insurgent commanders claiming that in the latter months of 2011 the ISI increased its direct contacts with the Taliban, vigorously encouraging more violence, and even supplying them with new high powered explosives manufactured in Pakistan," said the CRS, which as the name suggests, is the independent research wing of the US Congress.

Prepared for the interest for lawmakers, CRS reports are not made public.

CRS said that the classified NATO report, detailing information gathered through thousands of interrogations of captured Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, was leaked in January 2012 and reportedly indicates that Afghan insurgents continue to receive direct support from the ISI.

The report offers that, "Pakistan's manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues unabatedly," and "Senior Taliban leaders meet regularly with ISI personnel, who advise on strategy and relay any pertinent concerns of the government of Pakistan."

However, NATO officials played down the report's significance, and Pakistan's foreign minister called its content "old wine in an even older bottle," it said.

The CRS said ISI is also regularly linked to anti-India terrorist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the November 2008 attack on Mumbai in which 166 people were killed, Americans among them.

Pakistani officials regularly provide assurances that no elements of the ISI are cooperating with militants or extremists.

"However, to many independent observers, Pakistan's security services increasingly appear to be penetrated by Islamist extremists," CRS said.