WASHINGTON, April 25: Another blow to already tense relations between the United Sates and Pakistan was dealt on Monday when leaked official documents showed that the US administration had placed the Inter-Services Intelligence on a list of terrorist outfits.
In the documents, leaked by the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website, US officials rank the ISI alongside groups like Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the brainchild of Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman Al-Zawahiri, is also on the list of 70 terrorist entities. In a so-called threat indicator matrix used to determine which of the inmates at Guantanamo Bay can be released, a detainee’s link to the ISI is seen as confirming his association with terrorism.
The 17-page threat matrix is the first official US documents to have emerged that ranks the ISI among terrorist groups. Diplomatic observers in Washington say the document could seriously damage Pakistan-US relations.
“Through associations with these ... organisations, a detainee may have provided support to Al Qaeda or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or coalition forces (in Afghanistan),” the memo said.
The potential diplomatic row follows a dust-up over Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, who killed two Pakistani men in Lahore in January. “This revelation could become the last nail in the coffin of US-Pakistan relations,” noted a US media report. “In the wake of escalating protests of Pakistani citizens against US drone operations, such information could make the US lose its key ally in the region,” said another report.
One official memo advised US investigators that association with the ISI “in the late 1990s up to 2003” was a sign of Taliban or Al Qaeda affiliation. In another document, an Afghan Guantanamo inmate Haji Sahib Rohullah Wakil claimed that Al Qaeda members crossed into Pakistan on a special permit issued by a Pakistani official.
Mr Wakil “worked in conjunction” with Pakistani intelligence “to undermine the current Afghan government” led by President Hamid Karzai, the memo alleged.
The document, now placed on the WikiLeaks website, quoted Mr Wakil as telling his interrogator that the ISI and a Saudi group deposited money in a bank account he jointly maintained in Peshawar.
The documents show that from a total of 779 detainees, 409 were low-level guerrillas, 150 were considered innocent while 172 remained in the prison. Sixteen of them were high-value detainees and 7 men died in captivity.
As many as 221 detainees were Afghans, 138 Saudis, 112 Yemenis, 71 Pakistanis and 26 Algerians.
So far 199 detainees have been sent to Afghanistan, 120 to Saudi Arabia, 63 to Pakistan, 22 to Yemen and 14 to Britain. One of “the worst of a very bad lot” was 89-year-old Mohammed Sadiq, an Afghan civilian transported to prison camp just because of “suspicious phone numbers” found in his home.
“His current medical issues include major depressive disorder, senile dementia and osteoarthritis, for which he receives prescribed treatment.” Another inmate held along with the dangerous terrorists was 14-year-old Naqib Ullah, who was brought to Cuba because of “his possible knowledge of Taliban...local leaders”. British national Jamal al-Harith was sent to Guantanamo just because he had been held in a Taliban prison and was expected to obtain the information of their interrogation techniques.
Another prisoner was detained “because of his general knowledge of activities in the areas of Khost and Kabul based as a result of his frequent travels through the region as a taxi driver”.
And an Al-Jazeera journalist, a Sudanese cameraman named Sami al-Hajj, was held for six years on vague allegations that he helped Al Qaeda help the Chechens. He was released by the Bush administration without charges against him.
One of the “reasons for his transfer” to Guantanamo in his file is to “provide information on” the Al-Jazeera News Network’s training programme, telecommunications equipment, and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan, including the network’s acquisition of a video of (Osama bin Laden) and subsequent interview with (bin Laden).”