- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pakistan’s intelligence agency helped terrorists plan and conduct an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday.

The comments marked the first time a senior U.S. official has publicly linked Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to an attack on U.S. interests in Afghanistan.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Adm. Mullen said the ISI also helped the Haqqani Network, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, plan a truck-bomb attack near a NATO military base on Sept. 10. Four Afghans were killed and 77 U.S. troops injured in the attack in Wardak province, 30 miles south of Kabul.

“With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck-bomb attack, as well as the assault on our embassy,” Adm. Mullen said.

He added that the United States also has “credible intelligence” that the ISI also was behind a June 28 attack on the InterContinental Hotel in the Afghan capital, Kabul, as well as smaller attacks.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen speaks to reporters at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo File/Maya Alleruzzo)
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen speaks to ... more >

The Haqqani Network, led by the father-son duo Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani, operates from safe havens in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, which abuts Afghanistan.The Haqqanis allow al Qaeda and the Taliban to use its safe havens in Pakistan.

“The Haqqani Network … acts as a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI, Adm. Mullen said.

Other U.S. and Western officials frequently cite close ties between the ISI and the Haqqani Network.

“The fact remains that the Quetta Shura [the Pakistani Taliban] and the Haqqani Network operate from Pakistan with impunity. Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers,” Adm. Mullen said in written testimony to the committee.

A Pakistani Embassy spokesman on Thursday did not return calls from The Washington Times, but Pakistani officials deny that such linkages exist.

In Islamabad on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tahmina Junjua denied the charges to reporters, calling the U.S. officials’ claims “perceptions.” Asked whether Pakistan is engaging in a proxy war in Afghanistan, Ms. Junjua said, “I would say a categoric ‘no.’ “

Adm. Mullen’s remarks underscore Washington’s growing frustration with Islamabad’s selective cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups.

The U.S.-Pakistani relationship sank to its lowest point after a May 1 raid by U.S. commandos that resulted in the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, about 35 miles north of Islamabad.

Pakistani officials were not informed of the raid in advance, and the discovery of bin Laden living comfortably in a mansion near the Pakistani capital raised questions of Pakistani complicity in sheltering the terrorist.

President Obama’s decision to escalate a covert CIA program that involves firing missiles from unmanned Predator drones at terrorists inside Pakistan further strained the relationship.

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