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Wiki's latest expose: CIA's fears over home-grown terror

August 26, 2010 11:16 IST
The Central Intelligence Agency feels that nations across the globe would start co-operating with it less in the wake of the David Headley case and growing instances of home-grown terrorists, and start believing that the United States is an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret document posted by WikiLeaks.

The CIA concluded that foreign governments would be less likely to cooperate with the US on detention, intelligence-sharing, and other issues, the whistleblower site said.

'Primarily we have been concerned about the Al Qaeda infiltrating operatives into the United States to conduct terrorist attacks, but AQ may be increasingly looking for Americans to operate overseas,' said the document.

The CIA termed it as a thought-provoking document. "These sort of analytic products -- clearly identified as coming from the agency's 'Red Cell' -- are designed simply to provoke thought and present different points of view," CIA spokesperson Marie Harf told PTI.

The leaked document notes that Pakistani-American David Headley conducted surveillance in support of the Lashkar e Tayiba for the Mumbai attacks that killed 167 people.

'The LeT induced him to change his name from Daood Gilani to David Headley to facilitate his movement between the US, Pakistan and India,' the CIA document said.

Headley had confessed to plotting the Mumbai attacks and the LeT's role in it.

'If the US were seen as an exporter of terrorism, foreign partners may be less willing to cooperate with the United States on extrajudicial activities, including detention, transfer, and interrogation of suspects in third party countries,' the document said.

'As a recent victim of high-profile terrorism originating from abroad, the US government has had significant leverage to press foreign regimes to acquiesce to requests for extraditing terrorist suspects from their soil.

'However, if the US were seen as an "exporter of terrorism," foreign governments could request a reciprocal arrangement that would impact US sovereignty,' the CIA said.

The CIA documents running into a few pages said contrary to common belief, the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon, nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin.

'This dynamic belies the American belief that our free, open and integrated multicultural society lessens the allure of radicalism and terrorism for US citizens. Late last year five young Muslim American men traveled from northern Virginia to Pakistan allegedly to join the Pakistani Taliban and to engage in jihad.'

The document said: 'Their relatives contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation after they disappeared without telling anyone, and then Pakistani authorities arrested them as they allegedly attempted to gain access to Al Qaeda training facilities.'

It said if foreign regimes believe the US position on rendition is too one-sided, favoring the US, but not them, they could obstruct US efforts to detain terrorism suspects.

For example, in 2005 Italy issued criminal arrest warrants for US agents involved in the abduction of an Egyptian cleric and his rendition to Egypt.

'The proliferation of such cases would not only challenge US bilateral relations with other countries but also damage global counterterrorism efforts,' it said.

'If foreign leaders see the US refusing to provide intelligence on American terrorism suspects or to allow witnesses to testify in their courts, they might respond by denying the same to the US.'

In 2005 9/11 suspect Abdelghani Mzoudi was acquitted by a German court because the US refused to allow Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a suspected ringleader of the 9/11 plot who was in US custody, to testify.

'More such instances could impede actions to lock up terrorists, whether in the US or abroad, or result in the release of suspects,' said the CIA document posted by WikiLeaks.
Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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