Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Osint News ran across one of the most detailed and in-depth reports about Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. It was found in a report from the Institute for Conflict Management. The report was entitled, “ISI: Twisted Shadows” and written by Sanchita Bhattacharya, a Research Associate. It begins by describing how, on September 17, 2012, India's Tamil Nadu State intelligence sleuths arrested an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agent, identified as Thamim Ansari, from Tiruchi in the Tiruchirappalli District. This ISI agent was heading for the airport to board a flight to Colombo (Sri Lanka). They found 25 CDs and photographs of Naval and Coast Guard Stations, along with Army installations throughout the State on his person. During interrogation, Ansari admitted that a Pakistan High Commission diplomat in Sri Lanka, Amir Zubair Siddiqui, had assigned him to secure these pictures.

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The Pakistani diplomat, through several contacts, had employed Ansari to supply sensitive information on defense installations in India. Preliminary investigations indicate that a Pakistani espionage desk was operating from Colombo and was concentrating on South India. ISI agents were actively attempting to recruit Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, who had come to India during the course of the Eelam War, and have now returned to the island nation after the end of the conflict in May 2009. This war refers to the armed conflict between the Sri Lankan military and the separatist Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which is identified as a terrorist organization by 32 countries and labeled at the Tamil Tigers.

Ansari's arrest and subsequent disclosures are only the most recent evidence of a sustained effort by the ISI to encircle India with a network of subversive cells spread throughout civilian neighborhoods to engage in espionage, to recruit and support extremist and terrorist elements, and to engage in activities intended to destabilize India from within. According to the partial data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM), 133 ISI-related cells have been discovered and neutralized in India since 2004. 37 such cells were thwarted in New Delhi, followed by 18 in Punjab, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, 10 each in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, 9 in Maharashtra, 8 in Gujarat, 6 in Karnataka, 5 in Rajasthan, 4 in Madhya Pradesh, 3 in Uttaranchal, 2 each in Tripura and Haryana, 1 each in Goa, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

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OSINT News found that Pakistan’s ISI is encircling India by sending and recruiting agents in neighboring countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. And, we found that they are effectively setting up vast networks of ISI cells throughout India. According to The Hindu, there is credible Intelligence that indicates Pakistan is helping these infiltrators. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on October 21 said that there is credible intelligence of Pakistan trying to stir up trouble in India by helping terrorists to infiltrate into the country. "We have credible information that Pakistan is helping terrorists to enter our territory. We have intelligence inputs. But we are alert." And, we read througu IBN Live to learn that Pakistan’s ISI and the SIMI are helping Maoists. In the newspaper, the West Bengal Director General of Police (DGP) Naparajit Mukherjee warned that the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) have links with Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). He added that he had information that several pro-Maoist over-ground outfits have joined hands with some elements of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which have close links with ISI.

Here are some additional findings from India’s newspapers about the ISI’s activities in INDIA:
    July 25, 2012: the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) and Pakistan's ISI triggered ethnic-communal clashes in the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) area.
August 12, 2012: an unnamed intelligence officer commented, "(ISI) have used the social networking sites and mobile phones to create panic in the community and, unfortunately, it has worked for them".

March 2012: former ISI Chief Asad Durrani admitted before the Pakistan Supreme Court during proceedings relating to the Agency's mandate, that the ISI had provided logistical support and funding to insurgent groupings in India's Northeast in a campaign intended to destabilize India.  

A brief history of the ISI:
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The ISI Directorate, formed in 1948 following the Indo-Pakistan war of 1947, has dramatically augmented its capacities, both within Pakistan, and across expanding theatres abroad. Backed by USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) through the anti-Soviet Campaigns in Afghanistan after 1979, the ISI came to control huge, unaccounted for finances and has executed a range of sustained covert operations, including the creation and support of a multiplicity of terrorist groupings across the South Asian neighborhood. Hein Kiessling, who represented the Munich (Germany)-based Hanns-Seidel-Foundation in Pakistan from 1989 to 2002, in a book titled "Revisiting Contemporary South Asia" notes:
The (real) ISI budget is top secret, only a few people know the figure. In fact officially the ISI budget today is between $300 and 400 million... The personnel strength of ISI has also been a secret. During Zia-ul Haq's tenure it was estimated to be 20,000 men. In the 1990s and in the new millennium there were drastic reductions in personnel. Therefore, it is now assumed that ISI's base strength is approximately 4,000. About five percent of the ISI personnel are from the military on a contract basis. Approximately 45 percent are from the military. ISI has 50 percent of civilian staff members... It (ISI) is controlled and efficiently run - there is no ISI within the ISI. Although officially the Internal Cell was declared closed, it still exists. The ISI is the eyes and ears of the military. The military forces see themselves as guardians of Pakistan's survival. Therefore, it is very unlikely that the Internal Cell was close to success.

The ISI, headquartered in the Pakistani capital city of Islamabad and currently headed by its Director General, Lieutenant General Zaheer ul-Islam (who assumed office on March 9, 2012), has acquired increasing notoriety even within Pakistan. Amidst growing concerns of political machinations, human rights violations, 'disappearances', and widespread intimidation, a Bill was introduced in July, 2012, by Farhatullah Babar, spokesman of President Asif Ali Zardari in the Senate (Upper House) to make the ISI more accountable to the Parliament and Government.

Babar’s Bill recommended internal accountability within the ISI and a better discipline system to end enforced disappearances and victimization of political parties. The bill was, however, withdrawn on the apparent grounds that Babar had not secured the prior approval of the Law Minister Farook H. Naek-headed Special Committee of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), of which President Asif Ali Zardari is the Co-Chairman. The development, however, is widely seen as evidence of the ISI's clout within the political establishment. Past attempts at imposing a measure of accountability over the agency have also proven abortive.

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The ISI political mischief within Pakistan has been further established in the Supreme Court hearings on a 1996 petition filed by former Pakistan Air Force Chief Asghar Khan. Khan accused the ISI of financing politicians in the 1990 General elections by providing the Pakistan PKR with 140 million to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) from winning at the polls. However, on October 3, 2012, the Defence Ministry of Pakistan told the Supreme Court that there was 'no political cell' in the ISI. The Ministry, however, conceded that a political cell 'might have' existed in the past, but that no notification regarding its creation was found in the records. The three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, on October 4, served notice to the secretary to the President, seeking records of the existence of any political cell in the ISI.

Meanwhile, On October 19, 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the Government to take legal action against former Army Chief General Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI Chief Asad Durrani for distributing millions of rupees among politicians to rig the 1990 General Elections. The Supreme Court also said that any "political cell" operating in the Presidency, ISI, Military Intelligence (MI) or Intelligence Bureau (IB), should be shut down immediately as such an institution was unconstitutional.

Oranizational structure of the ISI
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The ISI officially has seven sections: Joint Intelligence X (JIX), Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB), Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB), Joint Intelligence/North (JIN), Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM), Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB) and Joint Intelligence Technical Division (JIT). JIN concentrates on Jammu and Kashmir, conducts operations and supports various terrorist proxies in the State, and also monitors Indian forces in the region. JIX serves as the Agency's secretariat; JIB monitors political intelligence; JCIB is responsible for oversees intelligence operations in Central Asia, South Asia, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Israel and Russia, and is also responsible for field surveillance of Pakistani diplomats stationed abroad; JIM is responsible for covert offensive intelligence operations and war time espionage; JSIB operates a chain of signals intelligence collection stations and provides communication support to its operatives; and JIT is a covert unit with a separate explosives section and a chemical warfare section.

Media reports also indicate that ISI has four "wings": 'A Wing' directs analysis and is the bureaucratic department; 'T Wing' is the technical section and provides assistance to the other wings. 'C Wing' is the counterintelligence wing. The 'S Wing' oversees 'external security' and is responsible for state sponsorship of various terrorist formations, including al Qaeda, the Taliban, and anti-India jihadi groups. An unnamed former Indian intelligence official observes, "We have known about its (S Wing) existence for several years. It took shape probably in the 80s, and from then on it has grown in size and strength". He further added that the entire operation of Kashmir militancy, over the past 20 years, had been handled by the 'S Wing'. On July 9, 2012, the then acting Director General of Police (DGP), Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), K. Rajendra, noted, ".No terrorist activity can take place in our country without the support of the actors from across the border. There are state actors headed by the ISI".

ISI involved in terror:
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On July 21, 2012, the arrested handler of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks Abu Jundal, provided first-hand evidence of the 'Karachi Project', an ISI backed terror scheme to mobilize and direct Indian terrorist fugitives in Pakistani safe havens. Abu Jundal's disclosures confirmed earlier details relating to the Karachi Project and its role in the 26/11 attacks, provided by the Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley. The Karachi Project was set up by the ISI in collaboration with LeT, and sought to make use of Indian terrorist operatives trained in Pakistan to execute bomb blasts in Indian cities. According to sources, "The scheme is funded by ISI and Gulf investments".

The ISI-IM nexus has also been re-established in the charge sheet filed by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) before a special Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act Court on May 25, 2012, regarding the July 13, 2011, Mumbai serial bombings case. It has been stated that the blasts were planned and coordinated by IM leaders from Pakistan. In its 4,478-page charge sheet, the ATS observed, "The IM has been expressly created by (the) ISI of Pakistan ostensibly to spread terror in this country through Indian front outfits."

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Despite apparent bans on the LeT and the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), moreover, these groups continue to operate under a multiplicity of new identities, with their infrastructure intact. A Government of India dossier on 'Anti-India Activities on Pakistan Soil', passed on to the Pakistani authorities during the Home Secretary Level Talks of May 24-25, 2012, listed as many as 42 terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Making a presentation at the Annual Conference of Directors General Police/Inspectors General of Police, held at New Delhi on September 7-8, 2012, the Delhi Police noted that IM "has Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) patronage". This is regarded as the first official confirmation of ISI-IM link.

Additionally, ISI's links with India's most wanted terrorist and crime boss, Dawood Ibrahim, are also well documented. Ibrahim is on the US listing of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists", but operates with impunity from Pakistan. Mumbai Police sources thus stated, in May 2012, "D-company [Ibrahim's crime syndicate] aides holed up in Pakistan are provided security and shelter by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Dawood and his aides can easily obtain bogus passports issued by Pakistan authorities and travel abroad". During the May 24-25, 2012, secretary level talks in Islamabad (Pakistan), India handed over to Pakistan a list of four precise coordinates of Dawood Ibrahim's location, with addresses. In Islamabad, Dawood stays in an ISI safe house on Bhoubhan Hill, 20 kilometres on the road to Muree.

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The ISI has also been patronising Sikh terror groups since 1984. On September 1, 2012, following the arrest of a Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorist, Kulwant Singh alias Guddu, from Sahora village near Kharar in Mohali District of Punjab, an NIA official observed, "ISI is also reportedly keen on forging coordination between Khalistani terrorists, terrorists operating in J&K and some fundamentalist groups and in this process Jagtar Singh Tara who escaped from Burail Jail in 2004 is favoured by the ISI to revive the Khalistan movement." Terror outfit BKI, among others, is actively supported by the ISI, and is believed to have received more than INR 800 million over just the last four years to fund its terrorist activities. On September 4, 2012, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Jitendra Singh told Lok Sabha (the Lower House of India's Parliament) "Available inputs indicate the patronage and assistance provided by Pakistan's ISI to leaders of various Sikh terrorist groups including BKI based in Pakistan. Interrogation of arrested Sikh militants revealed that short term modules are being run in Pakistan for training gullible Sikh youths from India and abroad." During the May 24-25, 2012, Home Secretary Level Talks between India and Pakistan at Islamabad, India handed over a dossier on 'Pakistan's Support to Terrorism in Punjab', which included details of recent attempts to organize terrorist actions in India, recruitment of extremists in India and win Western countries, as well as detailed listing of prominent Sikh terrorists sheltered in Pakistan. Details and locations in Pakistan of the top leadership of BKI, the Khalistan Zindabad, the International Sikh Youth Federation, Dal Khalsa International, Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar), and the Khaistan Tiger Force were included in the dossier.

ISI supports anti-West insurgents and terrorists:
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Meanwhile, in continuing with its policy of seeking to gain full control over the internal affairs of Afghanistan and to emerge as the sole decisive power in future Government formation in that country, in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2014, the ISI continues to support Afghan insurgent and terrorist formations in their fight against the Allied Forces. A May 2008 transcript given to Mike McConnell, the Director of US National Intelligence, stated that Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, referred to the Haqqani Network, one of the most active terrorist formations in Afghanistan, which has consistently targeted ISAF and Afghan National Security Force personnel, among others, as a "strategic asset". Similarly, on September 21, 2011, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen described the Haqqani Network as 'a veritable arm' of the ISI. The Quetta Shura Taliban, headed by Mullah Omar, the former 'Head of the Supreme Council' of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001, operates with impunity, and under the protection of the ISI, from Pakistani soil. A number of ISI-backed Pakistani terrorist groupings, including the LeT, are reported to have shifted focus and cadres to Afghanistan over the past years, to help the Afghan Taliban groupings in anticipation of the Western 'withdrawal'. Further, in its attempt to deter India, which is helping Afghanistan in a multiplicity of nation building projects worth some USD two billion (since the year 2001), ISI-mentored terrorist groups have attacked Indian targets (in Afghanistan) on at least 15 occasions since 2003, according to partial data on the SATP database.

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In addition to conventional patterns of terrorism, the ISI has also extended its mischief into cyber space. A highly-specialised cyber division in the ISI is reported to have been assigned the task of training operatives of terrorist outfits like the LeT, JeM and the IM, to train their cadre in the use of computers. A classified note circulated among participants of the DGPs/IGPs meet of September 2012, observed, "The ISI is now working on a bigger game plan in training terrorists in the use of cyber and computer technology as the Pakistani agency feels India is not fully equipped in dealing with incidents of cyber war or attack.''

Pakistan continues to evade designation as a terrorist state by the skin of its teeth, despite overwhelming evidence of the ISI's support and sponsorship of terrorism in a multiplicity of theatres. Erroneous western calculations of 'strategic interests' and an inability by the western powers to prevail effectively in Afghanistan have resulted in a policy of continuing ambivalence towards Pakistan's visible support to terrorists and the country's widening 'footprint of terror' across the world. There is, however, increasing awareness and displeasure against Pakistan's sustained international criminality on this count, even as the bloody blow back of this deceit mounts within Pakistan. It remains to be seen if the country will ever find the sagacity and the capacity to pull itself back from the brink, and reverse the grave and intentional harm it has inflicted both domestically and internationally.

Robert Morton, Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO). A portion (10%) of this site's ad revenues is donated to the AFIO. The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. OSINT News is always looking for different perspectives regarding the Intelligence Community- got a thought, article or comment you'd like to submit? Contact us on the SECURE CONTACT FORM

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