In a column, MEMRI South Asia Studies Project director Tufail Ahmad discusses the role of the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) in creating and shielding jihadist terror groups. The column - titled in Hindi "ISI - A Terror Organization" - was published by Dainik Jagran, the largest Hindi-language newspaper in India, on April 27, 2016.
The following is the original English text, from which it was translated into Hindi:
"There is enough publicly available evidence to recognize this fact: the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, known as ISI, is a terrorist organization. While the peoples of India and Afghanistan are aware of the ISI's role in creating, nurturing, shielding and using terror groups, people in the U.S. and Europe are not fully aware of this aspect of ISI. Let's look at the following points.
"One, on April 14, it emerged from a declassified U.S. cable that the ISI had funded the 2009 suicide bombing on the CIA base in Khost, eastern Afghanistan. The 2010 cable noted: 'some funding for Haqqani attacks are still provided by the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, including $200,000 for the December 30, 2009, attack on the CIA facility [in Khost].' This was the deadliest attack on CIA in history. Haqqani Network is a key unit of the Afghan Taliban which are funded and aided by the ISI. On September 22, 2011, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the U.S. Senate: 'Haqqani is veritable arm of Pakistan's ISI.'
"When the cable was declassified, Washington-based journalist Chidanand Rajghatta wrote: 'the sequence of cables detailing the ISI's role in organizing the attack suggests that the U.S. administration lied to the American public about Pakistan being a frontline ally in the War on Terror.'
"Two, in 2007 U.S. military interrogators in Guantanamo Bay classified the ISI as a terrorist group in secret papers. On April 25, 2011, the WikiLeaks revealed those secret papers as per which the U.S. officials had designated the ISI as one of the 32 'militant forces or organizations' with which Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have 'an established working, supportive, or beneficiary relationship for the achievement of common goals.' The ISI was ranked alongside Hamas, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Hezbollah, among others. WikiLeaks also reported that there were plans to explode a nuclear bomb in Europe if Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was caught.
"Three, Adnan Rasheed, a leading Taliban commander, is a former employee of Pakistan Air Force (PAF). In an interview with jihadi magazine Azan in 2013, Rasheed revealed that an institution called Idarat-ul-Pakistan was established within the PAF to coordinate jihadi activities across the three branches of the Pakistani military: navy, army and air force. Rasheed also noted that he was sent for training at a camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad led by Maulana Masood Azhar. At the training camp, Adnan Rasheed realized that Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) was 'working under the ISI.' He told his boss in the Idarat-ul-Pakistan: 'There is no difference between us and Jaish-e-Muhammad. We are soldiers in uniform and they are soldiers without uniform.' Adnan Rasheed's interview clearly established that Jaish-e-Muhammad is a branch of ISI.
"Four, in mid-2014 a video interview emerged of Shamsh Kashmiri, who was removed from his post as the deputy emir of Jaish-e-Muhammad. Kashmiri had developed differences with the JeM chief Maulana Masood Azar after he refused to order jihad against the Pakistani military following the 2007 army operation in Red Mosque of Islamabad. In the interview, Kashmiri noted: 'We used to think that Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkatul Mujahideen, Hizbul Mujahideen, Al-Barq Mujahideen... are purely sincere organizations for jihad... but the Red Mosque operation proved' that 'Our jihad is being done under obedience to ISI.' Even today, Jaish-e-Muhammad is allowed freedom to spread jihadi teachings and publish Haftroza Al-Qalam, a weekly newspaper.
"Shamsh Kashmiri also revealed that when General Pervez Musharraf banned jihadi groups under international pressure, the then ISI chief Lt.-Gen. Pervez Kayani 'instantly decided to double' the monthly salaries to the jihadi groups. As per Kashmiri, JeM was getting 45 lakh [4.5 million] rupees, Lashkar-e-Taiba was given 90 [9 million] lakhs and Hizbul Mujahideen was getting one crore [10 million] rupees. These amounts were raised by Kayani. Kashmiri also noted: "The money that the ISI gives is called operation money... So far as I remember 90 lakhs [9 million] monthly was fixed for Jaish-e-Muhammad." He added: "There is the training center of Jaish-e-Muhammad in Balakot. About 20 to 25 soldiers (of Pakistan Army) are there for their security' and 'It is the duty of one person from every organization to meet ISI people in [the towns of] Muzaffarabad, Kotli and Mansehra on a daily basis.'
"Five, Jaish-e-Muhammad, the ISI and Al-Qaeda have deep relationships between them. Adam Yahiye Gadahn, known as Al-Qaeda's American spokesman, was killed in Waziristan in January 2015. In a detailed interview published posthumously by Resurgence magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Adam Gadahn noted that when he moved from California to Pakistan, he first stayed at the Kuwait Hostel of the International Islamic University, Islamabad. 'Two Pakistani brothers (came) to pick me up from the hostel. They told me they were from the group headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, who was still in an Indian prison.' His statement reveals that Jaish-e-Muhammad is a feeder organization for Al-Qaeda.
"Six, although Al-Qaeda has been led by Arab terrorists, it is fundamentally a Pakistani organization from day one. It was established on the watch of the ISI in Peshawar in 1988 - at a time the ISI had emerged victorious in Afghanistan. It is from Pakistan that Al-Qaeda spread to the Middle East. Al-Qaeda is practically a branch of the ISI, which views itself as the ideological guardian of the Islamic state of Pakistan: both Al-Qaeda and the ISI share the same ideological objective - establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, with the only difference being that ISI wants Pakistan to be the head of such an international caliphate. It was the ISI that protected Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, as it protected Taliban leader Mullah Omar and continues to protect Maulana Masood Azhar and current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
"Currently, the ISI is using the Taliban to launch deadly attacks in Afghanistan in full knowledge of the world powers. On April 19, the Taliban carried out a suicide bombing near the headquarters of an elite Afghan military unit in Kabul, killing 64 people and wounding 300 others. Aided by CIA and Saudi money, the ISI was in full control of jihadi groups in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It remains in full control of jihadi groups in Afghanistan in 2016."