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ISI arrests CIA informants for ratting on bin Laden

By Betwa Sharma
Last updated on: June 15, 2011 11:40 IST
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Pakistan's top spy agency Inter Services Intelligence has arrested five Central Intelligence Agency informants, including an army major who supplied information to the CIA ahead of the United States operation that killed Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.

One of the detainees was reported to be a Pakistani army major whom officials said copied licence plates of cars visiting the Al Qaeda leader's compound in Abbottabad, Islamabad, the New York Times, citing officials, reported.

The fate of the CIA informants who were arrested was unclear, but American officials told the newspaper that CIA director Leon Panetta raised the issue when he visited Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers.

"We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise," CIA spokeswoman Marie E Harf said.

"Director Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It's a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs."

The Times described the arrest as "the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan."

Some in Washington see the arrests as illustrative of the disconnect between Pakistani and American priorities at a time when they are supposed to be allies in the fight against the Al Qaeda -- instead of hunting down the support network that allowed bin Laden to live comfortably for years, the Pakistani authorities are arresting those who assisted in the raid that killed the world's most wanted man, the Times reported.

Michael J Morell, the CIA deputy director, reportedly rated Pakistan's cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism operations as three on a scale of 1 to 10.

Meanwhile, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, told NYT that the CIA and the Pakistani spy agency "are working out mutually agreeable terms for their cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage."

Since the Raymond Davies incident, American officials reportedly said that the ISI have been generally unwilling to carry out surveillance operations for the CIA.

Further, the Pakistanis have also resisted granting visas allowing American intelligence officers to operate in Pakistan, and have threatened to put greater restrictions on the drone flights.

The Pentagon programme to train Pakistan paramilitary troops to fight the Al Qaeda and the Taliban also has ended, and the last of about 120 American military advisers have left the country.

In Washington, Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican said that on Tuesday that he believed elements of the ISI and the military had helped protect bin Laden, but did not provide any direct evidence.

Rogers said the Obama administration needed to put more restrictions on the USD 2 billion in American military aid received annually by Pakistan.

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Betwa Sharma in New York
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