Thursday, 3 December 2009

pakistan: armed us mercenaries in taliban clothes

US Security Firm Bribes Pakistani Officials, Top Interior Ministry Officer Arrested

Over US $ 250,000 paid as bribes to people inside the Interior Ministry to license illegal weapons

PS to State Minister of Interior arrested

Bribes were paid after US Ambassador personally lobbied for the licenses

Capt. Zaidi, Jamil Abbasi, Mr. Qadir and Dr. Dara are under arrest

Fears the accused are being protected and might possibly be allowed to escape the country

A total of 100 former SSG commandos secretly hired by US to create rapid-intervention teams for unknown purposes

By Ahmed Quraishi

2 December 2009.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The American defense contractor DynCorp is suspected of having bribed a personal assistant to the country’s interior minister to get a cache of sophisticated weapons into Pakistan without clearance from Pakistani security authorities.

Mr. Qadir, a personal assistant [P.S.] to Minister of State for Interior Tasnim Qureshi, is currently under arrest with the Federal Investigation Agency. He along with three others is suspected of receiving up to US $ 270,000 as bribe in exchange for issuing licenses to DynCorp that allow the company to use the sophisticated guns anywhere within the territory of Pakistan. The licenses were issued this summer without informing the country’s security agencies responsible for internal security, including the FIA.

This development is particularly embarrassing for US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson who personally lobbied the Pakistani Interior Ministry early this year to secure the licenses for DynCorp. Her lobbying effort is documented, including letters she and her staff wrote to the Ministry. The bribes were paid in the same case that Ambassador Patterson was pushing.

Details of the story, some being published here for the first time, show how the US push to forcibly include Pakistan in Washington’s failed Afghan project has resulted in alarming and inappropriate levels of US meddling inside Pakistan. The case also provides a glimpse into a covert American effort to create and operate private militias inside Pakistan with the help of a pro-US government.

Ambassador Patterson’s personal involvement in the case confirms suspicions inside Pakistan that she is directly linked to a disturbing new trend: the introduction of Blackwater-style private US security militias in the country. Ms. Patterson is quite acquainted with the concept, having worked with similar US groups in Colombia. Her experience in this area might have played a role in posting her to Pakistan.

The arrested assistant to the State Minister for Interior was receiving US $ 2,000 for every license issued for the prohibited weapons. The money was shared with two Pakistanis, one of them a retired Pakistan Army Capt. Ali Jafar Zaidi. Mr. Zaidi is also the founder of Inter-Risk, the local Pakistani affiliate of DynCorp.

The name of Mr. Tasnim Qureshi, the State Minister, came up frequently in the interrogation with his assistant. The Minister’s signatures are all over the paperwork for those illegal weapons. But Mr. Qureshi belongs to the second tier of PPP politicians. He is not expected to have approved the licensing of illegal weapons without clearance from Interior Minister Rehman Malik and/or other senior authorities in the government.

But it is not clear, however, if Minister Qureshi is part of this probe or not.

Up to US $ 270,000 were paid for 138 pieces of advanced weapons. Investigators have been able to account for only half of those weapons. The rest are believed to be hidden inside the US Embassy compound in Islamabad. The US Embassy won’t say where the remaining weapons have gone. The Embassy insists that DynCorp was hired to protect Embassy and Consulate buildings across the country. But Pakistani investigations and piles of evidence shows other activities that are typical of private US militias hired by US military and intelligence for covert missions.

This scandal is not limited to low level staffers in the Interior Ministry. Some reports point finger at Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani. These reports suggest both men had some role in letting private US security contractors into the country without the knowledge of the Pakistani military and the country’s intelligence agencies. Security officials refuse to comment on these reports.

The footprint of the private US security contractors in Pakistan is far and wide these days, and has come very close to Pakistan’s most sensitive nuclear installations for the first time ever, as I explain below.

On Nov. 28, Mr. Malik’s Ministry launched a probe into reports that DynCorp had recruited a large number of former officers of the Special Services Group [SSG], Pakistani military’s elite commando unit. The probe appeared to be an attempt by Mr. Malik to appease the Pakistani military. Reports of DynCorp’s secret activities have been highlighted by the Pakistani media as early as April this year.


After Mr. Zardari became President last year, Washington accelerated its agenda in Pakistan, confident it had many people in power in Islamabad who were pro-US. Besides the President, this included National Security Adviser Mehmud Ali Durrani, Ambassador Haqqani, and Interior Minister Malik.

The US agenda included raising Iraq-style private US militias in the country. This reflects Washington’s strong desire to turn Pakistan into a third theater of war after Iraq and Afghanistan, by force if necessary; a desire that continues even now with President Obama and British prime minister’s blunt threats against Pakistan and cheap attempts to blame Islamabad for what essentially are Am-Brit failures.

There is little doubt that Blackwater operated in Pakistan in some capacity over the past few years but not in the same style as in Iraq. There were no private US militias let loose around Pakistan. But this is happening now. And this assignment has been outsourced to DynCorp. The company came to Pakistan in 2008 under the pretext of protecting US diplomatic interests. But it ended up launching a secret program to recruit retired Pakistani military officers. DynCorp has also been found working on creating some kind of rapid-intervention teams made up of former Pakistani army officers trained by American instructors, who in turn are mostly former US military and intelligence officers.

DynCorp hired the services of a Pakistani, Dr. Iqditar Dara, to liaise with various Pakistani government departments. Mr. Dara, in turn, enlisted the services of a well-connected activist of the ruling PPP, Mr. Jamil Abbasi.

The US firm also set up a training facility on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital, appropriately disguised as an automobile repair workshop. [Watch the video.]

According to the interrogations, Mr. Dara and Mr. Abbasi shared the US $ 270,000 with the Minister’s assistant Mr. Qadir. Some amount of the money was also shared with Capt. Zaidi, who received a smaller amount from this booty mainly because he was already making a lot of money from his company’s contract with DynCorp.

Inter-Risk was given one-year provisional approval by the authorities to represent DynCorp in Pakistan. This was in 2008. But by early this year, Inter-Risk failed to get official approval for a license legalizing DynCorp’s activities in Pakistan.

When Inter-Risk’s offices were raided by the Pakistani police in September, DynCorp’s American trainers had already trained and ‘graduated’ 59 former Pakistani SSG officers from their illegal training facility on the outskirts of Islamabad. Fifty nine recruits were divided into two batches. Another 59 former SSG officers were undergoing training in September when the operation was forcibly terminated by Pakistani police.

The US Embassy reacted by quickly moving the 59 ‘graduates’ from the first two batches to the US Consulate in Peshawar.

The US Embassy was upset when, on Sept. 2, Chief Commissioner Islamabad suspended Inter-Risk’s license to operate as a private security firm, and three weeks later the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered Inter-Risk to wind up its business permanently. This in effect meant shutting the doors on DynCorp in Pakistan.

So upset was the US Embassy that no less than the Deputy Head of Mission, Mr. Gerald Feierstein, held a press conference on Oct. 1 to announce publicly that Inter-Risk and DynCorp, both US Embassy contractors, were not barred from operating in Pakistan. He tried to portray the action against Inter-Risk as a misunderstanding.

Next day, the Interior Ministry issued a statement announcing ‘to whom it may concern’ that Inter-Risk has been disbanded. Interestingly, the Ministry of Interior was not ready to name Mr. Feierstein who openly challenged its order. It was obvious the statement came out under pressure from Pakistani security officials outside the Ministry, possibly from the three main intelligence agencies, the FIA, ISI and the MI.

Nor did Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi take notice of the US diplomat’s action, even when Mr. Feierstein used the same press conference to issue a veiled threat of a US attack on the Pakistani city of Quetta.

According to a report published in Karachi’s Business Recorder on Nov. 28:

Sources said that the presence of American military contractors, like Blackwater World-wide, (now known as 'Xe Service') and Dyncorp, operating in Islamabad, had been extensively reported in the local media. Foreigners, mainly of US origin, have reportedly rented around 284 houses in different sectors of Islamabad, they said. According to details, 69 houses were rented by foreigners in F-6 sector, 85 houses in F-7, 62 houses in F-8, 15 houses in F-11, 12 houses in E-7, 38 houses in G-6, and three houses in I-8 sector of the capital.

A local security company, namely Wackenhut, has the contract to provide security to all these 284 houses in different sectors of Islamabad and their guards are deployed at these houses. This company is one of four recommended by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, US Department of State, on diplomatic security on its website.

Sources said that application forms are available at specific photocopy shops and are issued to retired commandos of Special Services Group. These retired commandos have been offered jobs as security guards. These SSG retired commandos would be trained under supervision of American trainers in a private training institute working under the garb of an automobile workshop on the outskirts of Islamabad.


Legal loopholes and diplomatic pressure by the US Embassy is behind a coordinated push to revive the work of Inter-Risk and DynCorp in Pakistan.

There are reports that the embassy is planning with some influential officials in the Pakistani government to get the four arrested men in the case out of jail and then smuggle them out of the country, most probably by sea. The three accused know much more than what they have admitted during the interrogations, especially information about the network of informants and other recruits that the US Embassy and DynCorp have cultivated across Pakistan.

These men are also suspected to know something about another suspicious US activity on Pakistani soil: the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program under US State Department, based at the police training college in Sihala, a few kilometers away from Pakistan’s most important nuclear installations.

Pakistani police officials have reported witnessing unusual activities at the facility. The Interior Ministry came down hard on those police officials who blew the whistle on what the Americans are doing there. This action compounded Pakistani suspicions, in addition to the fact that US citizens based at the Sihala facility insist they want to remain in the area despite the fact that they have not conducted any training programs for some time now.

According to reports, there is a strong suspicion that radioactive material detection equipment is installed at the facility. Low-ranking Pakistani staffers working with the Americans at Sihala have been found driving cars with fake number plates. And four US citizens were arrested in July in the maximum security zone around the Kahuta security facilities. In two and a half hours of interrogation, they couldn’t explain what they were doing there. Finally federal Interior Ministry intervened and forced their release without pressing charges.

Earlier this month, Inter-Risk filed a petition with the Lahore High Court seeking to overturn government’s decision to ban its activities in the country. Interestingly, the Rawalpindi Bench of the Court issued a stay order on Nov. 11, restricting the government from interfering in Inter-Risk’s ‘lawful’ business.

The verdict came as a surprise considering the extent of violations and defiance of Pakistani law committed by Inter-Risk and DynCorp, not to mention endangering the country’s national security.

There have been five or six incidents recorded in and around the Pakistani capital over the past few months where armed US citizens were arrested dressed as Afghan Taliban and carrying weapons that only the Pakistani military is allowed to carry in public.

Eight years after the US landed in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s security stands compromised at the Pak-Afghan border and inside the country. The Americans are part of the problem, not the solution.

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