Washington – The National Intelligence Council, the U.S. intelligence community’s focal point for estimating future developments, warned the George W. Bush administration last month that a decision to launch commando raids by U.S. troops against al Qaeda-related targets in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier region would carry a high risk of further destabilising the Pakistani military and government, according to sources familiar with the intelligence community’s response to the issue.
That blunt warning was conveyed to the White House in an oral briefing by a top official of the NIC two or three weeks ago, according to Philip Giraldi, former operations officer and counter-terrorist specialist in the CIA Directorate of Operations, who maintains contacts with the intelligence community.
Another source, who has been briefed by NIC officials on the issue, confirms that the NIC message, representing a consensus in the intelligence community, was conveyed to the Bush administration in August, just as an intense debate over whether to carry out commando raids against al Qaeda and Taliban targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan was still under way.
The source, who asked not to be identified because of the confidentiality of his contacts with the NIC, said the White House was warned that if
The Pakistani government lodged a diplomatic protest over the raid, and the Pakistani Parliament condemned it in a resolution.
The intelligence community believes
Patrick Lang, former defence intelligence officer for the
A key to the strategy of Islamic extremists in the FATA region in northwest
But the intelligence community regards the Frontier Corps as already "wavering", the source familiar with NIC thinking says, and it is feared that
The intelligence community’s greatest fear, according to the source, is the impact of anti-U.S. anger on the morale of the regular Pakistani army. One reason for that concern is the fact that a disproportionate percentage of the army officers serving in the region are Pashtun. The tribal population of the FATA is largely Pashtun, and if the
Selig Harrison of the Centre for International Policy, a veteran journalist and author specialising in
In an article in the International Herald Tribune in August 2007, Harrison warned that the Pashtun-based radical movement in the northwest "could lead to the unification of the estimated 41 million Pashtuns on both sides of the border, the breakup of
Although the NIC is responsible for producing national intelligence estimates, it has not been asked to provide any estimate on the potential consequences of a policy of raids by
Ironically, it was the July 2007 national intelligence estimate produced by the NIC on al Qaeda that contributed to growing pressures for direct
The Pakistani military reacted to the
"Such actions are completely counterproductive and can result in huge losses, because it gives the civilians a cause to rise against the Pakistani military," Abbas was quoted as saying.
According to Pakistan’s leading daily newspaper, Dawn, Pakistan’s National Security Council received an intelligence report in June 2007 on the "Talibanisation" of the region, which cited "the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan" and the "growing feeling among Muslims that they are under attack" as factors contributing to the "growing insurgency" in the region.
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in