London: Pakistan continues to run camps for training Taliban militants across the border in Afghanistan despite official denials, media reported today quoting insurgents trained by military-run ISI.
According to The Daily Telegraph, middle-ranking Taliban commanders have said they have received “practical guidance” and training in bomb-making by officers from Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence.
One commander, Mullah Azizullah, told a BBC documentary: “They are all the ISI’s men. They are the ones who run the training. First they train us about bombs, then they give us practical guidance. Their generals are everywhere. They are present during the training.”
In an interview at a safe house in Kabul in June, Azizullah said: “The Taliban movement was created with the help of the ISI. It is like when a tree grows – one has to plant it and water it.”
A middle-ranking commander called Mullah Qaseem told the makers of Secret Pakistan, to be shown on BBC tonight: “For a fighter there are two important things – supplies and a place to hide. Pakistan plays a significant role. First they support us by providing a place to hide which is really important. Secondly they provide us with weapons.”
Lt Col Tony Shaffer, who served with US Defence Intelligence between 1995 and 2006, said the ISI tipped off Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, during a bloody battle with Pakistani troops in Wana in 2004, allowing him to escape.
Col Richard Kemp, who worked at the Cabinet Office as head of intelligence on international terrorism between 2001 and 2006, said the ISI bore some responibilities for not preventing the July 7 attacks in London.
“The ISI of course must take responsibility for the fact that some of these camps were still up and running, including perhaps the camp that was responsible for training the 7/7 attackers (in London),” Col Kemp said.
Pakistan continues to deny reports with Gen Athar Abbas, director-general of Inter services public relations, the military organization within the country’s defence forces, telling the BBC: “To say that these militant groups were being supported by the state with the organised camps in these areas. I think nothing could be further from the truth.”
The documentary also says that Afghan intelligence service is holding a young man who alleges he was recruited earlier this year by ISI and trained to be a suicide bomber to target Western coalition forces.
The unnamed young man, being held in a jail on the outskirts of Kabul, said he was trained to be a suicide bomber in the “Taliban’s intensifying military campaign against the Western coalition forces”.
Preparations for his mission were overseen by an ISI officer in a camp in Pakistan, he said. After 15 days training, the man was sent into Afghanistan.
“There were three of us. We were put into a black vehicle with black windows. The police did not stop the car because it was obviously ISI. No-one dares stop their cars. They told me. You will receive your explosive waistcoat, and then go and explode,” he said.
The man changed his mind at the last minute and was captured by the Afghan intelligence service, according to the documentary “Secret Pakistan” which explores accusations by CIA officials and Western diplomats that Islamabad is failing to live up to its alliances in the war on terror.
Pakistan has often been accused of playing a double game, acting as a US ally in public while secretly training and arming its enemy in Afghanistan.