U.S. intelligence activities in the Near East

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For more information, see: United States intelligence community.

This article deals with activities of the United States intelligence community, in the jurisdiction generally associated with the responsibilities of the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. While the exact geographic organization of intelligence operations agencies is classified, this senior function, as well as the geographic coverage of the United States Central Command in the U.S. Department of Defense and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. Department of State should suggest the intelligence structure.

The Asian part of the Arab world (including Arabia proper) is called the Mashreq in Arabic, and the Levant in English. The North African part is called the Maghreb. Sudan, for this article, is in East Africa and Egypt is in the Middle East.

Some articles Middle East, Near East, South Asia and Southwest Asia claim countries in common. North Africa includes Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Western Sahara. Near East/Middle East includes Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, countries of the Arabian Peninsula and countries of The Levant. Countries of the Arabian Peninsula include Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Countries of the The Levant include Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Authority and Syria. Palestine consists of two autonomous regions, Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Note that there is an arbitrary line between the Middle East and Levant, which may need to be improved. One definition of the Levant is it includes the nations of the Eastern Mediterranean littoral, to be distinguished from the Maghreb. Several countries, such as Egypt, Djibouti, and Sudan do not fit neatly into any of those categories; indeed, the Horn of Africa confuses matters.

Countries of the The Levant include Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories and Syria. Palestine consists of two autonomous regions, Gaza Strip and West Bank.

South Asia includes British Indian Ocean Territory, Myanmar and countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation: The Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Southwest Asia includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus and Georgia.

North Africa

Egypt and Sudan are often considered part of the Middle East, or Sudan as part of East or even Central Africa. Sudan, for this article, is in East Africa and Egypt is in the Middle East.

The disputed territory of Western Sahara is administered by Morocco; the Polisario Front also claims it. The Spanish Canary Islands and Portuguese Madeira Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean are northwest of the African mainland and sometimes included in this region.

Geographically, Mauritania and more rarely the Azores are sometimes included. There are also other older names for certain locations in North Africa that have been changed since ancient times.

The Maghreb includes Western Sahara (claimed by Morocco), Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. North Africa generally is often included in common definitions of the Middle East, as both regions make up the Arab world. In addition, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt is part of Asia, making Egypt a transcontinental country.

Regional information

1966 NIE on the Maghreb

This NIE states as its goal, "To examine and assess trends and problems of the individual Maghreb states and of the area as a whole over the next two or three years." It continues "The three Maghreb states share a certain sense of identity, but this tends to be overshadowed by the differences between them. Some modest forms of economic cooperation are developing, but over the next few years nothing approaching economic integration or political unity is in sight." See the individual countries for details on the estimates pertaining directly to them.

"France will continue to be the single most important foreign influence in the Maghreb. The cultural link is likely to persist for some time, and France is the principal trading partner of each of the three countries. Algeria will continue to be the most favored by French subsidies and other economic aid, though throughout the area these will decrease over the longer term. None of the Maghreb countries is likely to become closely involved in the affairs of the Eastern Arab or sub-Saharan African states."

"Both Morocco and Tunisia have border disputes with Algeria, and both fear that Algeria may try to dominate North Africa. Algeria, on the other hand, fears that Morocco and Tunisia, backed by Western powers, might attempt to encircle it. These attitudes have contributed to a North African arms race, with Algeria receiving large amounts of Soviet arms, and Morocco and Tunisia pressing for extensive military aid from Western powers, particularly the US. Algeria's military capabilities are now greater than those of Morocco and Tunisia combined, and we believe Algeria would seek additional Soviet arms if a major build-up of Moroccan or Tunisian forces occurred.

"Despite the tensions among the Maghreb states, none is likely to mount a deliberate major armed attack against a neighbor during the period of this estimate. Limited border conflicts may occur, but they would probably be localized and of short duration."[1]

1972 FRUS summary

"Early in President Richard Nixon's first term, officials monitoring U.S.-North African relations had grounds for some satisfaction. U.S. ties with Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya were firm. Although Algeria had not yet resumed diplomatic relations broken during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, its economic links with the United States were expanding. Yet for all North African governments, friendly or otherwise, the Arab-Israeli issue complicated relations with Washington. The conflict was a major factor in continuing Algerian resistance to reestablishing formal ties with Washington. In Libya, a military junta, pledging internal reform and espousing Arab nationalism and the Palestinian cause, overthrew the unpopular pro-western monarchy in September 1969. Thereafter, the administration’s concern over Israeli sensibilities influenced its decision not to fulfill its aircraft contract with the Libyan government, to the detriment of U.S.-Libyan relations. In Morocco, Washington was allied with King Hassan, partly for his "moderate" stand on issues like the Arab-Israeli question. Yet as Hassan moved Morocco towards more representative government, he warned that Morocco’s firm support for the United States could change. Even Tunisia, a staunch U.S. ally, pushed Washington for a more energetic pursuit of Middle East peace, but was disappointed.[2]

"The challenge for the North African states was to forge beneficial relations with the United States, the USSR, and France, while still maintaining their independence. Washington's support of Israel, however, strained North African-U.S. relations. Regional governments pressed the United States to resolve the Middle East crisis and attempted to defuse the issue themselves. In 1969, Morocco hosted two conferences, one Islamic and one Arab, in an attempt to seize the initiative on the Middle East from Arab "radicals" and bolster its fellow "moderates." Arab nationalists took heart from the Libyan coup in September 1969, and it prompted U.S. officials to reexamine trends and options in North Africa in January 1970.

"U.S. analysts concluded that Algeria and Morocco were likely to remain politically stable in the near future, in the latter case due to King Hassan’s tight grip on power. However, in Tunisia, where the ailing President Bourguiba was likely to step down, and Libya, where an inexperienced military junta ruled, the reports predicted political turmoil. Still, without a major Arab-Israel war or western disengagement, analysts saw no significant likelihood of Soviet dominance of the area. The National Security Council (NSC) Interdepartmental Group agreed in 1970 that, to maintain its regional interests, the United States should continue an active relationship with all North African governments, but also welcome a Western European presence. Since U.S. influence was limited by Washington’s close identification with Israel, Western Europe, particularly France, could provide the counterpoise to the Soviets in North Africa.


See CIA activities in Algeria


Libya 1969

Focused on the next six months after the coup that overthrew the monarchy, conclusions estimated: "likely developments in Libyan policy, particularly with regard to issues affecting US interests.

"The young captains and lieutenants who took over Libya four months ago want foreign military installations removed from Libya as soon as possible. Evacuation of the bases in a manner satisfactory to the Libyans will not guarantee good relations between Libya and the US, but any other outcome would seriously prejudice US interests. The members of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) are also clearly determined to identify with the militant Arab line toward Israel. In these two desires, they reflect the prevailing mood in Libya itself, and any successor regime probably would follow similar policies.

"Beyond this, we know little concerning the policies of the RCC, and there seem to be potential sources of dissension within the group. Unsure of its own hold on power and lacking clear domestic policy objectives, it will be disposed to look for advice to other Arab countries--especially Egypt, with which the RCC leaders are developing close ties.

Oil operations in Libya netted the US balance of payments over $800 million in 1968... The RCC will press vigorously, and successfully, to increase its income from oil. Nationalization of oil production does not seem likely, but it cannot be entirely ruled out, in dealing with the oil companies, Libya holds a number of high cards.

The RCC probably will contribute financially to the Arab cause even more heavily than did the monarchy. It also may station token contingents of troops in Egypt and perhaps Jordan. If Egypt so desired, the RCC probably would agree to make Libyan airfields available to Egyptian aircraft. Over the longer run, it is possible that Soviet-manned reconnaissance aircraft in some guise might be permitted access to facilities in Libya. The circumstances under which such a contingency might arise will be more fully explored in NIE 11-6-70, "Soviet Policies in the Mediterranean Basin," scheduled for publication in the first quarter of 1970 Properly requested and conducted over flights and port visits by the Soviets would almost certainly be permitted; we doubt, however, that the Libyans would give the USSR access to military installations in Libya on anything like extraterritorial terms. See the NIE for additional detail.[3]

Libya 1981

A global finding in 1981 orders CIA to take action against Muammar Gaddafi, who is thought to be distributing weapons to terrorists throughout Europe and Africa.

Libya 2005

Intelligence analysis

In his Senate Intelligence Committee statement, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Porter Goss described the status of Libya as a success story in nonproliferation[4] Goss said that Libya, by the end of 2004, had taken a number of significant steps it had promised:

  • Dismantling key elements of its nuclear weapons program and opened itself to the IAEA.
  • Giving up some key chemical warfare assets and opened its former CW program to international scrutiny.
  • After disclosing its Scud stockpile and extensive ballistic and cruise missile R&D efforts in 2003, Libya took important steps to abide by its commitment to limit its missiles to the 300-km range threshold of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The US continues to work with Libya to clarify some discrepancies in the declaration.


Morocco 1966

Intelligence analysis

"Morocco is also likely to enjoy relative political stability for the next few years. King Hassan II, facing minimal domestic opposition and supported by the security forces, will probably continue to dominate the political scene. In time, however, the combination of rapid population growth and continued economic stagnation is likely to pose a major threat to the nation's social and political order."Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Morocco 2002

Human Rights Watch(HRW), through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asked The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency should declassify all files pertaining to the kidnap and "disappearance" of Moroccan opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka. The letter was submitted jointly with Institut Ben Barka, a France-based organization dedicated to collecting and preserving documents by and about Mehdi Ben Barka.[5]

According to HRW, Moroccan security officials are believed to have masterminded Ben Barka's abduction in Paris in 1965, and are believed to have killed him shortly thereafter. His body was never found. The failure to identify and punish the principal perpetrators, and the rumored role of foreign intelligence agencies, continue to spark controversy in Morocco.

In response to a 1976 FOIA request, the CIA acknowledged having 1,846 files pertaining to Ben Barka, but cited national security reasons in refusing to release them. The vast majority of these have remained secret ever since. Interest in the CIA files was rekindled last year, when a retired Moroccan secret policeman came forward to allege that, during the 1960s, CIA agents were working in the police bureau that carried out the “disappearance” of Ben Barka. The ex-agent, Ahmed Boukhari, repeated this allegation in a published a book in France earlier this month.


Tunisia 1966

Intelligence Analysis

"Tunisia is likely to enjoy continued political stability under President Bourguiba and his entrenched Destourian Socialist Party. Bourguiba's departure would probably not bring on a serious succession crisis or major policy changes, at least in the short term. Long range economic prospects are fairly good, but Tunisia will suffer from some painful economic problems, particularly a balance of payments deficit, over the next few years."[1]

Western Sahara

Middle East

The Middle East includes Egypt, the smaller Gulf states, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Turkey.

Note that there is an arbitrary line between the Middle East and Levant, which may need to be improved. One definition of the Levant is it includes the nations of the Eastern Mediterranean littoral, to be distinguished from the Maghreb. Several countries, such as Egypt, Djibouti, and Sudan do not fit neatly into any of those categories; indeed, the Horn of Africa confuses matters.

Countries of the The Levant include Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories and Syria. Palestine consists of two autonomous regions, Gaza Strip and West Bank.



General U.S. policy toward Iran needs to be evaluated through several filters:

  • As a buffer to Russia
  • After 1979, relations about the Islamic Revolution from the U.S. side, remembering that the Iranians still are angry about the CIA-sponsored 1953 coup against Mossagegh
  • In more recent times, the reality about nuclear programs and involvement in post-invasion Iraq, and the domestic political vs. the objective threat assessment of the complex relations between Iran and transnational groups. Both the positions of those groups and of assorted government spokesmen, given Iran has a very complex power structure, with Israel has nuances to be understood before predicting.

See CIA activities in Iran.


The CIA supported the overthrow of the Qasim government in the sixties, armed a Kurdish revolt against the Ba'athist government in the seventies, supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, and subsequently worked to overthrow Saddam Hussein. See CIA activities in Iraq.



Turkey 1959

U-2 reconnaissance flights flew from Incirlik in Turkey.

Turkey 1960

The U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers and shot down over the Soviet Union in May 1960, departed from Turkey.

Turkey 1970

In 1970, CIA officer Duane Clarridge, the CIA station chief in Rome at the time of the papal shooting, had previously been posted in Ankara. In his 1997 memoirs, A Spy for All Seasons, Clarridge makes no reference to the Turkish unrest from the Grey Wolves group or to the shooting of the Pope.[6]

Turkey 1980

A 1980 coup by state security forces deposed Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel. The Turkish security forces cited the need to restore order which had been shattered by rightist terrorist groups secretly sponsored by those same state security forces. [6]

Arabian Peninsula




Saudi Arabia

United Arab Emirates


Yemen 2002

On November 5, 2002, Al-Qaeda operatives in a car travelling through Yemen were killed by a missile launched from a CIA-controlled Predator drone.[7]

The Levant


Israel 1974

CIA released a 1974 Special National Intelligence Estimate, Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,[8] which had been prepared in response to the May 17, 1974 Indian nuclear test.

Twenty years ago, the CIA released an excised version of the "Summary and Conclusions" of this document in response to a FOIA request by the Natural Resources Defense Council. It became the subject of a front-page story in The New York Times on 26 January 1978, under the headline, "C.I.A. Said in 1974 Israel had A-Bombs." In response to press queries, the CIA stated that the release was a mistake because it included some classified details.

When it reviewed the 1974 SNIE for the most recent release, the CIA heavily excised the discussion of the Indian nuclear program, but the release includes discussion of the nuclear prospects and potential of a number of countries, which, as Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus has noted, included correct and incorrect judgments, such as:

  • Israel:"We believe that Israel already has produced and stockpiled a small number of fission weapons."
  • Republic of China (Taiwan):"We believe facilities are being developed with conscious intent to keep a nuclear weapon option open."
  • South Africa: "In the short run, South Africa is of more concern in the proliferation context as a potential supplier of nuclear materials and technology than as a potential nuclear weapons power."
  • Japan: "Technologically speaking, [Japan] is in a position to produce and test a nuclear device within two or three years," but "the Japanese are unlikely to make a decision to produce nuclear weapons unless there is a major adverse shift in relationships among the major powers."
  • Argentina: "if Buenos Aires dedicated itself to the earliest possible development of a nuclear weapon and received … foreign assistance in building the necessary facilities, Argentina could have an initial device in the early 1980s."

The SNIE went on to say that several nations, such as Canada, Sweden, West Germany and Italy, had the capability but not the motivation to build nuclear weapons.[9] It was quite specific, though, in saying "We believe Israel has already produced nuclear weapons. Our judgment is based on Israel's acquisition large quantities of uranium, partially by clandestine means; the ambiguous nature of Israel's efforts in the field of uranium enrichment, and Israel's large investment in a costly missile system designed to accommodate nuclear weapons. We do not expect the Israelis to provide confirmation of widespread suspicions of their capabilities, either by nuclear testing or threat of their use, unless there is a grave threat to the nation's existence. Future emphasis is likely to be on improving weapons designs, developing missiles more capable in distance and accuracy than the existing 260-mile Jericho, and acquiring or perfecting weapons for aircraft delivery."

Israel 1985

See The Iran Link in the article on CIA actions in the Americas,


Jordan 1998

Jordan, after clearing the transaction with the local CIA station, was to sell 50,000 surplus AK-47 rifles to Peru. See Peru 1998 for details of the transaction, which actually diverted the rifles to Colombian rebels. It is not known if the Jordanians were witting of the eventual destination of the rifles.[10]


Palestinian Territories


Syria 1983

In 1983, President Assad of Syria signed a peace and friendship treaty with the Soviet Union and some have suggested that the coincidental uprising by the Muslim brotherhood in Syria was a CIA operation to overthrow Assad for his pro-Soviet policies.[11]

South and Southwest Asia

Southwest Asia is partly coterminous with the traditional European names the Middle East and the Near East, both of which describe the regions' geographical position in relation to Europe rather than their location within Asia. The term Western Asia has become the preferred term of use for the Middle East by international organizations (most notably the United Nations) and also in African and Asian countries, such as India, because of the perceived Eurocentrism of the historical term Middle East. In terms of cultural and political geography, the Middle East sometimes includes North African and western South Asian countries, particularly Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Egypt.

The definition of cultural-geographical regions in use by the United Nations.

The United Nations includes Turkey and the South Caucasus States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) in its Western Asian subregion, as they are almost entirely located there. However, these countries also lie in regions that straddle both Asia and Europe, and have sociopolitical ties to the latter. Turkey is located in Europe and in Asia. The Asian part of the Arab world (including Arabia proper) is called the Mashreq in Arabic.

In historical senses, Tibet and Afghanistan should be considered South Asian. (Now a member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).)

British Indian Ocean Territory

Myanmar (Burma)

Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948. Gen. NE WIN dominated the government from 1962 to 1988, first as military ruler, then as self-appointed president, and later as political kingpin. Despite multiparty legislative elections in 1990 that resulted in the main opposition party - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - winning a landslide victory, the ruling junta refused to hand over power. NLD leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient AUNG SAN SUU KYI, who was under house arrest from 1989 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, was imprisoned in May 2003 and subsequently transferred to house arrest, where she remains virtually incommunicado. In February 2006, the junta extended her detention for another year. Her supporters, as well as all those who promote democracy and improved human rights, are routinely harassed or jailed.[12]


See also: CIA transnational anti-crime and anti-drug activities#Southwest Asia

Afghanistan 1979

One of the American intelligence community's biggest operations and initially considered a major success was the arming and funding of the Mujahedeen (Islamist fighters) in Afghanistan. The program was initiated under President Jimmy Carter and greatly expanded following the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in December 1979. Under Reagan funding reached levels of $600 million/year.

The CIA provided assistance to the fundamentalist insurgents through the Pakistani secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a program called Operation Cyclone. Somewhere between $3–$20 billion in U.S. funds were funneled into the country to train and equip troops with weapons, including Stinger surface-to-air missiles.[13] [14]

A 2002 article by Michael Rubin stated that in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, the United States sought rapprochement with the Afghan government—a prospect that the USSR found unacceptable due to the weakening Soviet leverage over the regime. Thus, the Soviets intervened to preserve their influence in the country.[15] According to Vance's close aide Marshall Shulman "the State Department worked hard to dissuade the Soviets from invading."[16] In February 1979, U.S. Ambassador Adolph "Spike" Dubs was murdered in Kabul after Afghan security forces burst in on his kidnappers. The U.S. then reduced bilateral assistance and terminated a small military training program. All remaining assistance agreements were ended after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Following the Soviet invasion, the United States supported diplomatic efforts to achieve a Soviet withdrawal. In addition, generous U.S. contributions to the refugee program in Pakistan played a major part in efforts to assist Afghan refugees.

US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, known for his hardline policies on the Soviet Union, initiated in 1979 a campaign supporting mujaheddin in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which was run by Pakistani security services with financial support from the Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's MI6.[17] This policy had the explicit aim of promoting radical Islamist and anti-Communist forces. Bob Gates, in his book Out Of The Shadows, wrote that Pakistan had been pressuring the United States for arms to aid the rebels for years, but that the Carter administration refused in the hope of finding a diplomatic solution to avoid war. Brzezinski seems to have been in favor of the provision of arms to the rebels, while Cyrus Vance's State Department, seeking a peaceful settlement, publicly accused Brzezinski of seeking to "revive" the Cold War. Brzezinski has stated that the United States provided communications equipment and limited financial aid to the mujahideen prior to the "formal" invasion, but only in response to the Soviet deployment of forces to Afghanistan and the 1978 coup, and with the intention of preventing further Soviet encroachment in the region.[18]

Years later, in a 1997 CNN/National Security Archive interview, Brzezinski detailed the strategy taken by the Carter administration against the Soviets in 1979:

We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanctions focused on the Soviet Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Council prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again – for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechoslovak communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujaheddin from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.[19]

On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country was announced pursuant to the negotiations that led to the Geneva Accords of 1988.[20] [21]

Afghanistan 1985

While the actual document has not been declassified, National Security Decision Directive 166 of 27 March 1985, "US Policy, Programs and Strategy in Afghanistan" defined a US policy of using established the US goal of driving Soviet forces from Afghanistan "by all means available", including the provision of Stinger missiles.[22]

Initially, this involved close cooperation with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence to assist mujahideen groups and in planning operations inside Afghanistan. This cooperation was already in place in 1984, prior to NSDD-166. Indeed, it was evident to residents in Islamabad and Peshawar in the 1980's that large numbers of Americans were present.

However, one of the main features of NSDD-166 was to allow CIA to enter Afghanistan directly and establish it's own separate and secret relationships with Afghan fighters.[23] The funding by ISI and CIA of Afghan anti-Soviet fighters created linkages among Muslim fighters worldwide.[24]

At first, the US supported the effort cautiously, concerned that the Soviet Union would act against Pakistan. "Some time into the war, however, the US began to take a much more overt position, and US-supplied technology played a key role in defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan 1987

On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country was announced pursuant to the negotiations that led to the Geneva Accords of 1988.[20]

Afghanistan 1989

Intelligence analysis

A Special National Intelligence Estimate, "Afghanistan: the War in Perspective",[25] estimated that Najibullah government was "weak, unpopular, and factionalized", but would probably remain in power, with the war at a near impasse. It drew key judgments including:

  • The mujahedin hold the military initiative, as long as they stay in the countryside, where government troops do not hinder them and they choose when and where to fight. As long as Soviet supplies continue, they will remain a guerrilla force unable to seize major garrisons.
  • As an insurgency, regime fragility, mujahedin disunity, and local tribal factors are as important to the outcome as strictly military aspects.
  • While there is extensive popular support, the resistance will remain highly factionalized.
  • The Afghan Interim Government and most major commanders will refuse direct negotiations with Najibullah, but indirect negotiations are possible.

Pakistan and the USSR remain the most important external powers. Pakistan will continue to support the resistance regardless of who is in power. The Soviets will seek a political settlement while providing massive support. Gorbachev would like to resolve the issue before the US summit next year.

Any of a number of changes in foreign support could break the impasse:

  • Cessation of US support to the resistance
  • Cessation of Soviet support to the government
  • Mutual cuts by the US and USSR would be more harmful to the government

Aid cuts, however, will not stop the fighting.

Covert action

After the withdrawal of Soviet troops, CIAs objective was to topple the government of Mohammad Najibullah, which had been formed under the Soviet occupation, according to author Steve Coll.[26] Among others, the two main factions that CIA was supporting were:

According to Coll, during this period of time, there was disagreement between CIA and the U.S. State Department regarding which Afghan factions to support. U.S. State Department Special Envoy to Afghanistan Edmund McWilliams, after numerous tours of the interior of Pakistan, found that Afghan people were unhappy with the Wahhabist-leaning and anti-American Hekmatyar contingent, and recommended pulling back support for fighting in favor of a political settlement involving more of the ex-pat Afghan professional class. In this McWilliams was supported by British Intelligence. CIA station chief Milton Bearden felt that McWilliams was misreading U.S. policy. Bearden did not want to get involved in Afghanistan internal politics, trusted the ISI to establish a stable regime in Afghanistan which was favorable to Pakistan, felt that Afghanistan was historically divided from Pakistan only by a line drawn by the British, and felt that the British didn't know what they were talking about, since they had lost two wars in Afghanistan already. The argument between Bearden and McWilliams in Islamabad was curtailed when Bearden cabled the State Department a "request for curtailment" of duty tour on McWilliams behalf, and McWilliams found himself called away.

Afghanistan 1990

Covert action

The policy dispute between CIA's Near East Division and the U.S. State Department, regarding political settlement versus continued fighting in Afghanistan, which was initiated between McWilliams and Bearden in 1989, continues with new protagonists, CIA's Thomas Twetten and State's new special envoy to the Afghan resistance, Peter Tomsen. [27]

Civil war developed as the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and CIA-supported Gulbadin Hekmatyar sought to violently eliminate all rivals, including the CIA-supported Ahmed Shah Massoud. In spite of this internecine warfare, ISI and CIA formulated a plan to topple the Najibullah government in a winter offensive on Kabul. As part of this offensive, CIA paid Massoud $500,000, over and above his monthly stipend of $200,000, to close the Salang Highway. Massoud fails to do so, and in consequence, his allowance was reduced to $50,000 per month.

In Spring of 1990, ISI hoped to install Gulbadin Hekmatyar contingent on defeating the Najibullah government. Hekmatyar also acquires millions of dollars in additional funding from Osama bin Laden, thus placing ISI, CIA and bin Laden in joint venture. On 7 March `990, Gulbadin Hekmatyar and Shahnawaz Tanai attempted a coup, with Tanai, a member of Najibullah's government, orchestrating an attack using Najibullah's own forces against Najibullah's palace, with Hekmatyar's forces to follow up from outside Kabul. The money to buy the loyalty of Najibullah's troops came in part from Osama bin Laden. This attempt failed.

At the same time, ISI asks "bin Laden for money to bribe legislators to throw Benazir Bhutto out of office". "That winter, then, bin Laden worked with Pakistani intelligence against both Najibullah and Bhutto, the perceived twin enemies of Islam they saw holding power in Kabul and Islamabad", according to author Steve Coll.The discussion below draws on author Steve Coll's account.[28] Regarding the issue of whether bin Laden was acting alone or as an agent of Saudi intelligence, Coll writes (see the concept of plausible deniability):

"Did bin Laden work on the Tanai coup attempt on his own or as a semi-official liaison for Saudi intelligence? The evidence seems thin and inconclusive. Bin Laden was still in good graces with the Saudi government at the time of the Tanai coup attempt; his first explicit break with Prince Turki and the royal family lay months in the future. While the CIA's Afghan informants named bin Laden as a funder of the Hekmatyar-Tanai coup, other accounts named Saudi intelligence as the source of funds. Were these separate funding tracks or the same? None of the reports then or later were firm or definitive.

"It was the beginning of a pattern for American intelligence analysts: Whenever bin Laden interacted with his own Saudi government, he seemed to do so inside a shroud."

Note that, in a grand historical coincidence, in the investigation following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, Pakistan's Interior Ministry has laid the blame on "Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander who holds sway across a large part of South Waziristan",[29] i.e. on an al-Qaeda-linked group, while Bhutto herself, in a letter she wrote prior to her death and subsequent to two prior attempts, laid the blame at the ISI's doorstep. In light of the above, perhaps both assertions are correct.

Afghanistan 1991

According to Human Rights Watch,[30] there was a dispute, inside the US government, with the State Department on one side, and the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, ISI, on the other. HRW said the The New York Times, in January 1991, said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt had "battled with [CIA] officials who would like to unleash the guerrillas in Afghanistan in one last effort," while United States Secretary of State James Baker worked to "coax the rebels and the Najibullah regime into democratic elections." In the interview, Kimmitt complained that agency officials were "just bucking policy." In February, as negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union remained stalled, HRW again cited The New York Times reported that "the [CIA], in a long policy dispute with the State Department that it now appears to be winning, has been arguing that negotiations cannot end the war and that Washington should step up its efforts to help the guerrillas win a military victory."

Since the early 1980s, according to HRW, the ISI and CIA has used their control over the arms pipeline to run the war and favor abusive mujahedin parties, particularly Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's faction, which used U.S.- and Saudi-financed weapons to launch indiscriminate attacks on Afghan cities, killing countless civilians.

Afghanistan 2005

Intelligence analysis

Speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee in early 2005, Porter Goss[4] said Afghanistan is on the "road to recovery after decades of instability and civil war. Hamid Karzai's election to the presidency was a major milestone. Elections for a new National Assembly and local district councils--tentatively scheduled for this spring--will complete the process of electing representatives. President Karzai still faces a low-level insurgency aimed at destabilizing the country, raising the cost of reconstruction and ultimately forcing Coalition forces to leave.

"The development of the Afghan National Army and a national police force is going well, although neither can yet stand on its own.








India has conflicts with several of its neighbors: Pakistan, China, and Sri Lanka. The situation in Sri Lanka pits a Sinhalese-majority population, against the Tamil minority. Many of these conflicts stay at the level of intelligence and special operations, but periodically break into major conflict.

CIA activities in India need to be seen in the context that India and its neighbors (Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) involve a complex interplay among their intelligence services, as well as interested services from the U.S., U.K., Russia, Israel and China. The Shanghai Cooperative Organization makes things more complex, as well as U.S. common intelligence interests against Russia.

The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is India's foreign intelligence organization, while the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is responsible for counterintelligence. The military has a separate Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) India prides itself as having a history of skilled intelligence going back to antiquity.[31]

India 1955

A chartered Indian airliner, Kashmir Princess, was bombed. There is substantial evidence that the Kuomintang (Taiwan) service may have planted it, attempting to assassinate Zhou Enlai, who had been expected on it. CIA involvement is much less clear, although some general claims are made in the linked article.

In a 1971 face-to-face meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Zhou directly asked Henry Kissinger about US involvement, whose response included the line "As I told the Prime Minister the last time, he vastly overestimates the competence of the CIA."[32] Kissinger denied any US policy to kill him, and the two discussed the CIA at some length, in a manner unusual to find in US records.

India 1958

India's nuclear programs were assessed.[33]

India 1965

SNIE 31-1-65 examined India's nuclear weapons policy for the remainder of the 1960s. In doing so, it examines India's technical capabilities, the pressures for a weapons program, and the opposition to a weapons program. A final section, "The Indian Decision," tries to assess India's decision calculus and notes that India might try to represent any underground test as being for peaceful purposes.[34]

India 1968

When India's intelligence community was built around RAW in 1968, RAW's first director, R.N. Kao, held meetings with his CIA counterparts in the U.S., as well as the United Kingdom's SIS and the Soviet Union KGB. Much of the liaison was essentially political in character — what is today known as `back channel diplomacy' — but RAW's special operations and SIGINT/IMINT unit, the Aviation Research Centre, received technical assistance from the U.S. in return for information on China.[35]

India 1974

India's first nuclear test, on India's May 18, 1974, was a surprise to the Intelligence Community, although the overall nuclear program and incentives to build a bomb had been discussed.[36]

"India conducted an underground nuclear test at a site in the desert at Pokhran - making it the world's seventh nuclear power and the sixth to test (Israel having achieved nuclear status in 1966 without testing). India claimed as CIA analysts had previously suggested it might that the test was for peaceful purposes. This Top Secret Codeword item in the Central Intelligence Bulletin relays press reporting and public statements by officials of other governments, including Pakistan, and contains analysts assessments of the implications for China.[37] As predicted in the 1965 SNIE 31-1-65, the test was described as being for peaceful purposes.[34]

India 1985

In 1985, according to Frontline magazine, RAW counter-intelligence obtained a confession, from a field officer in Chennai to admit that he had passed on sensitive information to the CIA and Sri Lankan intelligence. RAW confronted him with footage showing him making contact with a U.S. national on a beach in Chennai and at a resort in Kerala. RAW had sought to tighten in-house security after the public fracas that broke out in the wake of the scandal. The Chennai case was a particular embarrassment because it came hot on the heels of another spy scandal" involving French and Polish intelligence.[38]

India 1987

In 1987, when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was in Sri Lanka, Paranthan Rajan came into contact with RAW officials.[39] Jecame to Indian intelligence officials’ attention when he formed a political group, Tamileela Iykkia Viduthalai Munnani. Given his background, observers feel Rajan’s alliance with Karuna might be RAW’s handiwork.

India 1992

In 1992, the State Department threatened to impose economic sanctions on India after it refused permission for US sleuths to go on an aerial-photography mission along the Sino-Indian border.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

India 2002

Until recently, only RAW was authorised to have contacts with foreign intelligence agencies — and the job was restricted to a select few within its ranks. Under the National Democratic Alliance coalition government, RAW, IB, and DIA could interact with counterpart organizations in other countries. Former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, for example, met the heads of the CIA and Israel's Mossad along with Intelligence Bureau staff.[40] Brajesh Mishra, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is known to have had direct contact with the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence as well. While meetings in themselves are not inappropriate, they can lead to the breakdown of protocols - for example, that intelligence officers will meet a foreign contact only in teams of two - and eventual penetration.[38] There is little oversight of this process, which has had the unexpected consequence that "hundreds of Indian agents have been exposed, the term professionals use to describe individuals whose real jobs are known to foreign intelligence organisations. "As things stand," says a senior RAW officer, 'we hardly have anyone left who can serve in a genuine covert role.'"

Rabinder Singh has been described, in Indian media, as a CIA asset inside the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the national intelligence service. It is not clear if he is a member of a larger clandestine HUMINT network. The suggestion has already been made by a number of well-placed observers that he had acted as a conduit or cutout for a number of highly placed US 'assets' operating deep within the Indian intelligence community, the military and scientific centres working on nuclear and missile development, and others inside the political establishment.

The issue also involved problems with the Intelligence Bureau, the domestic security agency, and an overall concern with trust of security officers.

In 2002, Singh visited the US under a liaison initiative based on counter-terror, teaching skills for hostage negotiation and dealing with hijackers. Singh, however, is a Southeast Asia analyst not working on terror issues.[41].

In 2002, the last year for which figures are available, the U.S. hosted 80 courses for officers from India, along with 17 other countries in Asia and Africa. "Intelligence cooperation and liaison have always been chaotic," says former RAW officer and analyst B. Raman, "but we cannot afford complacency any more."

India 2004

Singh disappeared from India in May 2004, and has applied for asylum in the US. <name=Rediff2004-09-07> {{ciFrontline, an Indian newsmagazine, described him as "Joint Secretary handling South-East Asia" for RAW.[41] He came to RAW as an Indian Army major, who had "served with distinction in Amritsar during Operation Bluestar, the counter-terrorist assault on the Golden Temple in 1984. At some point after this, he again attracted the attention of his superiors, this time by procuring classified U.S. government documentation.

"Rabinder Singh's source seems to have been one of his relatives, a U.S. citizen who has worked for over two decades with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Rabinder Singh's relative is alleged to have visited India regularly on official work, sometimes staying at his residence. This relationship, RAW investigators claim, enabled Rabinder Singh to pass on documents with only a minimal risk of exposure.

"In the early 1980s, the son of then RAW chief N. Narasimhan left the U.S. after efforts were made to approach the spy chief through him. Narasimhan's son had been denied a visa extension, and was offered its renewal in return for his cooperation with the U.S.' intelligence services. "Not all," says a senior RAW officer, "would respond with such probity."[38]

India 2006

Charges against Singh were filed in 2006. The RAW charges said that they had located Singh in New Jersey and the process should start to seek his extradition.“Now, we will be moving to extradite Singh from the US,” stated the complaint. The Home Ministry had earlier invoked the National Security Act and issued orders to attach Singh’s property.[42]

After losing a first petition for asylum in the US, Singh won on appeal.[43]

Singh is not the only person in international controversy. Sri Lanka’s Army-backed Tamil paramilitary group, the ENDLF, is seeking recruits amongst Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu, offering hefty salaries. The recruitment is being conducted with the knowledge of India’s external intelligence agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), the report added. The ENDLF, reportedly headed by Paranthan Rajan, has been recruiting cadres for the Karuna Group (named after the renegade LTTE commander who heads it) from refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.[39]

“Rajan’s unusually lengthy stay in India — he first arrived in India in 1990 — and his unrestricted movement here, coupled with his anti-LTTE activities on Indian soil, are seen as concrete proof that he is a RAW agent,” the website said. The recently defeated Jayalalithaa government had arrested Rajan in 2004 – observers feel that he misread signals following Jayalalithaa’s crackdown on pro-LTTE groups in Tamil Nadu and felt he could have a free run with his anti-LTTE propaganda. But he was released at the behest of RAW, the report said.

The ENDLF is being used by RAW to as a rallying point of anti-LTTE groups, the report said. Rajan’s actions could have had RAW’s blessings as it might have had an interest in promoting Karuna and neutralising LTTE leader Vellupillai Pirapaharan’s appeal in Tamil Nadu, the report said.




Pakistan 1965

See Vietnam 1965: General Non-Communist Reactions for the US assessment of Pakistan's reaction to an escalation in Vietnam.

Pakistan 1979

Zia ul Haq allowed the CIA to use bases in Pakistan to send CIA paramilitary agents into Afghanistan to aid the Mujahadeen. Pakistan was the major conduit of arms and supplies from the CIA to the Mujahadeen.[11]

Pakistan 2001

Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the "intelligence service of Pakistan... has had an indirect but longstanding relationship with Al Qaeda, turning a blind eye for years to the growing ties between Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, according to American officials...[ISI] Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan to train covert operatives for use in a war of terror against India...[and] also maintained direct links to guerrillas fighting in the disputed territory of Kashmir on Pakistan's border with India, the officials said.

"The Kashmiri fighters, labeled a terrorist group by the State Department, are part of Pakistan's continuing efforts to put pressure on India in the Kashmir conflict." The ISI-Kashmiri relationship surfaced in August 1998, when the United States launched a cruise missile attack against Al Qaeda terrorist camps near Khost, Afghanistan, in response to the 1998 embassy and civilian bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The casualties included several members of a Kashmiri militant group supported by Pakistan who were believed to be training in the Qaeda camps..."[44]

Pakistan 2002

"Abu Zubaydah, the first of Osama bin Laden's henchmen captured by the United States after the" 9-11 attack, was captured in Pakistan in early spring 2002. when a CIA security team delivered him to a secret safe house in Thailand for interrogation in the early spring of 2002

Pakistan 2005

On May 15, 2005, it was reported that Predator drones had been used to kill anAl-Qaeda figure, Haitham al-Yemeni inside Pakistan.[45]

Pakistan 2006

On January 13, 2006 , the CIA launched an airstrike on Damadola, a Pakistani village near the Afghan border, where they believed Ayman al-Zawahiri was located. The airstrike killed a number of civilians but al-Zawahiri apparently was not among them.[46] The Pakistani government issued a strong protest against the US attack, considered a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. However, several legal experts argue that this cannot be considered an assassination attempt as al-Zawahiri is named as terrorist and an enemy combatant by the United States, and therefore this targeted killing is not covered under Executive Order 12333, which banned assassinations.[47]

Pakistan 2007

A new NIE focused on three years, The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland, says "Al Qaeda has reorganized to pre-9/11 strength and is preparing for a major US strike has sparked debate among government officials and observers about the Bush administration's foreign policy and counterterrorism efforts." It "indicates that the Islamic terrorist organization's rise has been bolstered by the Iraq war and the failure to counter extremism in Pakistan's tribal areas.

"... Hezbollah may become a threat if the US takes action against Iran or seriously threatens or attacks the Islamic organization, the majority of the report focused on the "rejuvenating effect the Iraq war has had on Al Qaeda.

"Al Qaeda is preparing for a major strike against the US, reports the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). The terrorist organization has intensified efforts to insert operatives in the US, however, since the 9/11 attacks only a "handful" of senior operatives have been discovered inside the US. The NIE also indicates that Al Qaeda will deploy nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons if they can acquire them."

"We assess that al-Qai'da's homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the U.S. population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices, and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles.
"We assess that al-Qai'da will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.[48]

Pakistan 2008

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 1985

According to the Indian Frontline magazine, Indian counter-intelligence obtained a confession, from a field officer in Chennai to admit that he had passed on sensitive information to the CIA and Sri Lankan intelligence. RAW confronted him with footage showing him making contact with a U.S. national on a beach in Chennai and at a resort in Kerala.[38]


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