|Formed||1948 by General Robert Cawthome|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Pakistan|
|Agency executive||Nawaz Sharif|
Faith, Unity, Discipline
|Director General : Rizwan Akhter|
|Department : Intelligence|
|Established : 1948|
The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (more commonly known as just the Inter-Services Intelligence or simply by its initials ISI), is the premier intelligence service of Pakistan, operationally responsible for providing critical national security and intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan. The ISI is the largest of the three intelligence services of Pakistan, the others being the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI). Previously in the 20th century, the ISI's work and activities have included the support of the Afghan mujahideen in then-communist Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in their war against the mujahideen (in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency) and later provided strategic and intelligence support to the Afghan Taliban against the Northern Alliance in the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
The ISI is the successor of the IB and MI formed after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 to co-ordinate and operate espionage activities for the three branches of the Pakistan Armed Forces. The ISI was established as an independent intelligence service in 1948 in order to strengthen the sharing of military intelligence between the three branches of Pakistan's armed forces in the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, which had exposed weaknesses in intelligence gathering, sharing and coordination between the Army, Air Force and Navy. From its inception, the agency has been headed by an appointed three-star general officer in the Pakistan Army, despite officers from all three branches of the Pakistan Armed Forces being served and hired by the ISI. However, after the intelligence gathering and coordination failure during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee was created with a mandate to co-ordinate and supervise all military exercises and operations of the Pakistan Armed Forces.
The Chief of Army Staff recommends the names of the Director General who reports to Prime minister, but official confirmation and appointment is needed from the Prime minister. The ISI is headquartered in Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Venue, and is currently headed by Lieutenant-General Rizwan Akhter who replaced Zaheerul Islam in October 2014. The agency has an estimated strength of 10,000 officers and staff members, which does not include informants and assets.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 Recruitment and training
- 4 Major operations
- 5 Al Qaeda and Taliban militants captured
- 6 Reception
- 7 Allegations of support for terrorists
- 8 Equipment
- 9 Losses suffered by ISI
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
After independence in 1947, two new intelligence agencies were created in Pakistan: the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI). However, the weak performance of the MI in sharing intelligence between the Army, Naval and Air Force during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 led to the creation of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1948. The ISI was structured to be manned by officers from the three main military services, and to specialize in the collection, analysis and assessment of external intelligence, either military or non-military. The ISI was the brainchild of Australian-born British Army officer, Major General Robert Cawthome, then Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army. Initially, the ISI had no role in the collection of internal intelligence, with the exception of the N.W.F.P and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The recruitment and expansion of the ISI was managed and undertaken by then-Navy's Commander Syed Mohammad Ahsan who was tenuring as Deputy Director of the Naval Intelligence. The Navy's Commander Syed Mohammad Ahsan played an integral and major role in formulating the policies of the ISI. At the end of December 1952, Major-General Robert Cawthome, Director-General of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), sent a priority report to the Commander Ahsan, and asked for a detailed reactions of Pakistan Armed Forces personnel for the Basic principles for the ISI.
In the late 1950s, when Ayub Khan became the President of Pakistan, he expanded the rôle of ISI and MI in monitoring opposition politicians, and sustaining military rule in Pakistan. The ISI was reorganised in 1966 after intelligence failures in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, and expanded in 1969. Khan entrusted the ISI with the responsibility for the collection of internal political intelligence in East Pakistan. Later on, during the Baloch nationalist revolt in Balochistan in the mid-1970s, the ISI was tasked with performing a similar intelligence gathering operation.
The ISI lost its importance during the regime of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was very critical of its rôle during the 1970 general elections, which triggered off the events leading to the division of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh.
After Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq seized power on 5 July 1977 and became the Chief Martial Law Administrator of the country, the ISI was expanded by making it responsible for the collection of intelligence about the Pakistan Communist Party and various political parties such as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
The Soviet war in Afghanistan of the 1980s saw the enhancement of the covert action capabilities of the ISI by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A special Afghan Section, the SS Directorate, was created under the command of Brigadier Mohammed Yousaf to oversee the coordination of the war. A number of officers from the ISI's Covert Action Division (Special Activities Division) received training in the United States and many covert action experts of the CIA were attached to the ISI to guide it in its operations against the Soviet troops by using the Afghan Mujahideen.
On September 2001, Parvaiz Musharraf appointed a new Director General for ISI, Lieutenant General Ehsanul Haq who was later on replaced by the Let. Gen. Shuja Pasha.
ISI's headquarters are located in Islamabad, and currently the head of the ISI is called the Director General- who has to be a serving Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army. Under the Director General, three Deputy Directors General report directly to him and are in charge in three separate fields of the ISI which are Internal wing – dealing with counter-intelligence and political issues inside Pakistan, External wing – handling external issues, and Analysis and Foreign Relations wing.
The general staff of the ISI mainly come from paramilitary forces and some specialised units from the Pakistan Army such as the some chosen people from SS Group (SSG), SSG(N), and the SS Wing. According to some experts the ISI is the largest intelligence agency in the world in terms of number of staff. While the total number has never been made public, experts estimate about 10,000 officers and staff members, which does not include informants and assets.
Recently, a bill introduced by a private member in the Senate to make the agency more accountable to the Parliament and Government, was withdrawn as it reportedly did not have the concurrence of the special committee of the ruling PPP.
- Covert Action Division
- Responsible for paramilitary and covert operations as well as special activities. Its roles are akin to Special Activities Division of CIA and a handful numbers of officers are trained by the CIA's SAD and active since the 1960s.
- Joint Intelligence X
- coordinates all the other departments in the ISI. Intelligence and information gathered from the other departments are sent to JIX which prepares and processes the information and from which prepares reports which are presented.
- Joint Intelligence Bureau
- responsible for gathering political intelligence. It has three subsections, one devoted entirely to operations against India.
- Joint Counterintelligence Bureau
- responsible for surveillance of Pakistan's diplomats and diplomatic agents abroad, along with intelligence operations in the Middle East, South Asia, China, Afghanistan and the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.
- Joint Intelligence North
- Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous
- responsible for espionage, including offensive intelligence operations, in other countries.
- Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau
- operates intelligence collections along the India-Pakistan border. The JSIB is the ELINT, COMINT, and SIGINT directorate that is charged to divert the attacks from the foreign non-communications electromagnetic radiations emanating from other than nuclear detonations or radioactive sources.
- Joint Intelligence Technical
- deals with development of science and technology to advance the Pakistan intelligence gathering. The directorate is charged to take steps against the electronic warfare attacks in Pakistan. Without any exception, officers from this divisions are reported to be engineer officers and military scientists who deal with the military promotion of science and technology. In addition, there are also separate explosives and a chemical and biological warfare sections.
- SS Directorate
- which monitors the terrorist group activities that operates in Pakistan against the state of Pakistan. The SS Directorate is comparable to that of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS), and responsible for the covert political action and paramilitary special operations.
- Political Internal Division
- Monitored the financial funding of the right-wing political science sphere against the left-wing political science circles. This department was involved in providing funds to the anti-left wing forces during the general elections of 1965, 1977, 1985, 1988, and 1990. The department is now "inactive" since March 2012 with the new director taking the operational charge of the ISI.
- 1948–1950: Colonel Syed Shahid Hamid
- 1950–1959: MGen Robert Cawthome
- 1959–1966: BGen Riaz Hussain
- 1966–1971: MGen (then BGen) Mohammad Akbar Khan
- 1971–1978: LGen (then Maj Gen) Ghulam Jilani Khan
- 1978–1980: LGen Muhammad Riaz
- 1980 – March 1987: LGen Akhtar Abdur Rahman
- March 1987 – May 1989: LGen Hameed Gul
- May 1989 – August 1990: LGen (retd) Shamsur Rahman Kallu
- August 1990 – March 1992: LGen Asad Durrani
- March 1992 – May 1993: LGen Javed Nasir
- May 1993 – 1995: LGen Javed Ashraf Qazi
- 1995 – October 1998: LGen (then Maj Gen) Naseem Rana
- October 1998 – October 1999: LGen Ziauddin Butt
- October 1999 – October 2001: LGen Mahmud Ahmed
- October 2001 – October 2004: LGen Ehsan ul Haq
- October 2004 – October 2007: LGen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
- October 2007 – October 2008: LGen Nadeem Taj
- October 2008 – 19 March 2012: LGen Ahmad Shuja Pasha
- 19 March 2012 – 21 September 2014: LGen Zaheerul Islam
- 21 September 2014 present LGen Rizwan Akhtar 
The ISI headquarters are in Islamabad. The complex consists of various adobe buildings separated by lawns and fountains. The entrance to the complex is next to a private hospital. Declan Walsh of The Guardian said that the entrance is "suitably discreet: no sign, just a plainclothes officer packing a pistol who direct visitors through a chicane of barriers, soldiers and sniffer dogs". Walsh said that the complex "resembles a well-funded private university" and that the buildings are "neatly tended," the lawns are "smooth," and the fountains are "tinkling." He described the central building, which houses the director general's office on the top floor, as "a modern structure with a round, echoing lobby."
Recruitment and training
Both civilians and members of the armed forces can join the ISI. For civilians, recruitment is advertised and is jointly handled by the Federal Public Services Commission (FPSC) and civilian ISI agents are considered employees of the Ministry of Defence. The FPSC conducts various examinations testing the candidate's knowledge of current affairs, English and various analytical abilities. Based on the results, the FPSC shortlists the candidates and sends the list to the ISI who conduct the initial background checks. The selected candidates are then invited for an interview which is conducted by a joint committee comprising both ISI and FPSC officials.
- Collection of information and extraction of intelligence from information
- ISI obtains information critical to Pakistan's strategic interests. Both overt and covert means are adopted.
- Classification of intelligence
- Data is sifted through, classified as appropriate, and filed with the assistance of the computer network in ISI's headquarters in Islamabad.
- Aggressive intelligence
- The primary mission of ISI includes aggressive intelligence which comprises espionage, psychological warfare, subversion, sabotage.
- ISI has a dedicated section which spies against enemy's intelligence collection.
- Diplomatic missions provide an ideal cover and ISI centres in a target country are generally located on the embassy premises.
- ISI operatives find good covers in multinational organisations. Non-governmental organizations and cultural programmes are also popular screens to shield ISI activities.
- International media centres can easily absorb ISI operatives and provide freedom of movement.
- Collaboration with other agencies
- ISI maintains active collaboration with other secret services in various countries. Its contacts with Saudi Arabian Intelligence Services, Chinese Intelligence, the American CIA and British MI6 have been well known.
- Third Country Technique
- ISI has been active in obtaining information and operating through third countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Turkey and China.
- ISI, CIA and Mossad carried out a covert transfer of Soviet-made weapons and Lebanese weapons captured by the Israelis during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 and their subsequent transfer to Pakistan and then into Afghanistan. All knowledge of this weapon transfer was kept secret and was only made public recently.
- ISI are believed to have access to Osama bin Laden in the past. ISI played a central role in the U.S.-backed guerrilla war to oust the Soviet Army from Afghanistan in the 1980s. That Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-backed effort flooded Pakistan with weapons and with Afghan, Pakistani and Arab "mujahideen". The CIA relied on the ISI to train fighters, distribute arms, and channel money. The ISI trained about 83,000 Afghan mujahideen between 1983 and 1997, and dispatched them to Afghanistan. B. Raman of the South Asia Analysis Group, an Indian think-tank, claims that the Central Intelligence Agency through the ISI promoted the smuggling of heroin into Afghanistan in order to turn the Soviet troops into heroin addicts and thus greatly reducing their fighting potential. The factions that were backed by the ISI were Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami, and the forces fighting for Jalaluddin Haqqani.
- Worrying that among the large influx of Afghan refugees that had come into Pakistan due to the Soviet-Afghan war were members of KHAD (Afghan Intelligence), the ISI successfully convinced Mansoor Ahmed who was the Charge-de-Affairs of the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad to turn his back on the Soviet backed Afghan government. He and his family were secretly escorted out of their residence and were given safe passage on a London bound British Airways flight in exchange for classified information in regard to Afghan agents in Pakistan. The Soviet and Afghan diplomats tried their best to find the family but were unsuccessful.
- The Taliban regime is widely accepted to have been supported by the ISI and Pakistani military from 1994 to 2001, which Pakistan officially denied during that time, although then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf now admits to supporting the Taliban until 9/11. According to Pakistani Afghanistan expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" on the side of the Taliban. Following the 9/11 attack on the United States by Al-Qaeda, Pakistan says it felt it necessary to cooperate with the US. Others, however, maintain Pakistan continues to support the Afghan Taliban, which Pakistan rejects.
- The Indian Consulate General in Jalalabad was attacked by terrorists in 2007. According to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, individuals arrested by the Afghan government stated that the ISI was behind this attack and had given them Rs 120,000 for the operation.
- 2001 onwards
- American officials believe members of the Pakistani intelligence service are alerting militants to imminent American missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas. In October 2009, Davood Moradian, a senior policy adviser to foreign minister Spanta, said the British and American governments were fully aware of the ISI's role but lacked the courage to confront Islamabad. He claimed that the Afghan government had given British and American intelligence agents evidence that proved ISI involvement in bombings.
- A new report by the London School of Economics (LSE) claimed to provide the most concrete evidence yet that the ISI is providing funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban insurgency on a scale much larger than previously thought. The report's author Matt Waldman spoke to nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan and concluded that Pakistan's relationship with the insurgents ran far deeper than previously realised. Some of those interviewed suggested that the organization even attended meetings of the Taliban's supreme council, the Quetta Shura. A spokesman for the Pakistani military dismissed the report, describing it as "malicious". General David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command, refused to endorse this report in US congressional hearing and suggested that any contacts between ISI and extremists are for legitimate intelligence purposes, in his words "you have to have contact with bad guys to get intelligence on bad guys".
- The ISI was involved in supplying arms to the warring parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina to protect themselves from Serbian attacks.
- In the late 1960s assists the Sikh Home Rule Movement of London-based Charan Singh Panchi, which was subsequently transformed into the Khalistan Movement, headed by Jagjit Singh Chauhan in which many other members of the Sikh diaspora in Europe, United States and Canada joined and then demanded the separate country of Khalistan.
- The 1965 war in Kashmir provoked a major crisis in intelligence. When the war started, there was a complete collapse of the operations of all the intelligence agencies, after the commencement of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, was apparently unable to locate an Indian armored division due to its preoccupation with political affairs. Ayub Khan set up a committee headed by General Yahya Khan to examine the working of the agencies.
- The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and ISI worked in tandem with the Nixon Administration in assisting the Khalistan movement in Punjab.
- The PAF Field Intelligence Unit at their base in Karachi in July 1980 captured an Indian agent. He was interrogated and revealed that a large network of Indian spies were functioning in Karachi. The agent claimed that these spies, in addition to espionage, had also assassinated a few armed personnel. He also said the leader of the spy ring was being headed by the food and beverages manager at the Intercontinental Hotel in Karachi and a number of serving Air Force officers and ratings were on his payroll. The ISI decided to survey the manager to see who he was in contact with, but then President of Pakistan Zia-ul Haq superseded and wanted the manager and anyone else involved in the case arrested immediately. It was later proven that the manager was completely innocent.
- Ilam Din also known as Ilmo was an infamous Indian spy working from Pakistan. He had eluded being captured many times but on March 23 at 3 a.m., Ilmo and two other Indian spies were apprehended by Pakistani Rangers as they were illegally crossing into Pakistan from India. Their mission was to spy and report back on the new military equipment that Pakistan will be showing in their annual March 23 Pakistan day parade. Ilmo after being thoroughly interrogated was then forced by the ISI to send false information to his R&AW handlers in India. This process continued and many more Indian spies in Pakistan were flushed out, such as Roop Lal.
- ISI uncovered a secret deal in which naval base facilities were granted by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to the USSR in Vizag and the Andaman & Nicobar Island and the alleged attachment of KGB advisers to the then Lieutenant General Sunderji who was the commander of Operation Blue Star in the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984.
- ISI failed to perform a proper background check on the British company which supplied the Pakistan Army with its Arctic-weather gear. When Pakistan attempted to secure the top of the Siachen Glacier in 1984, it placed a large order for Arctic-weather gear with the same company that also supplied the Indian Army with its gear. Indians were easily alerted to the large Pakistani purchase and deduced that this large purchase could be used to equip troops to capture the glacier. India quickly mounted a military operation (Operation Meghdoot) and captured a large part of the glacier.
- ISI implemented Operation Tupac a three part action plan for covertly supporting the militants in their fight against the Indian authorities in Kashmir, initiated by President Zia Ul Haq in 1988 after the failure of "Operation Gibraltar". After success of Operation Tupac, support to militants became Pakistan's state policy. ISI is widely believed to train and support militancy in Kashmir region.
The ISI was also accused to be involved in a scandal the Mehran bank scandal dubbed "Mehrangate", in which top ISI and Army brass were allegedly given large sums of money by Yunus Habib (the owner of Mehran Bank) to deposit ISI's foreign exchange reserves in Mehran Bank.
- ISI became aware of a plot to assassinate the President of Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq and then launch a bloody coup to depose the current government and install an Islamic government in its place. The attempted assassination and coup was to occur on March 23, 1980 during the annual March 23 Pakistan day parade. The masterminds behind the coup were high-ranking Military and Intelligence officers and were led by Major General Tajammal Hussain Malik, his son, Captain Naveed and his nephew Major Riaz, a former Military Intelligence officer. ISI decided against arresting these men outright because they did not know how deep this conspiracy went and kept these men under strict surveillance. As the date of the annual parade approached, ISI was satisfied that it had identified the major players in this conspiracy and then arrested these men along with quite a few high-ranking military officers.
- ISI's Internal Political Division has been accused by various members of the Pakistan People's Party in assassinating Shahnawaz Bhutto, one of the two brothers of Benazir Bhutto, through poisoning in the French Riviera in the middle of 1985 in an attempt to intimidate her into not returning to Pakistan for directing the movement against Zia's Military government, but no proof has been found implicating the ISI.
- ISI failed to prevent the KHAD/KGB terror campaign in Pakistan which in 1987 led to the deaths of about 324 Pakistanis in separate terror incidents.
- ISI failed to prevent the mysterious assassination of the President of Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq in the crash of his C-130 Hercules aircraft near Bahawalpur which was possibly orchestrated by the KGB and KHAD.
- The ISI has been deeply involved in domestic politics of Pakistan since the late 1950s. The 1990 elections for example were widely believed to have been rigged by the ISI in favor of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) party, a conglomerate of nine mainly rightist parties by the ISI under Lt. General Hameed Gul, to ensure the defeat of Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the polls.
- ISI is actively engaged with the Pakistan armed forces in the War in North-West Pakistan against Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and so far is reported to have lost 78 ISI personnel, most notably Khalid Khawaja and Colonel Imam.
- ISI has been actively involved in suppressing a bloody separatist insurgency in Balochistan. Recently the Militants have been accused of targeting people of non-Balochi ethnic groups and Balouchi who do not agree with separatism . Over two hundred bodies with signs of extreme torture and a shotgun wound to the head have been found in the region during the period of July 2010 to July 2011, and Human Rights Watch says evidence points to complete ISI responsibility. Whilst the Provincial Government says it is doing its best to improve law and order and end target killing which it blames on rival factional fighting. As many as 985 people have been sentenced so far while the cases of 875 accused in various crimes were in the courts."Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a Capture Operation Launched by the Pakistan against his private militia, ISI provided key intelligence during the operation.
- Five Pakistanis who worked as informant for CIA to pass information leading to the Death of Osama bin Laden had been arrested by the ISI. In particular the US was trying to seek the release of Dr Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani who worked for the CIA, passing intelligence leading to the death of Bin Laden. Since then Dr Afridi has been sentenced to 33 years in prison.
- ISI decided to spy on the residence of Colonel Hussain Imam Mabruk who was a Military Attaché to the Embassy of Libya in Islamabad as he had made some inflammatory statements towards the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq. The spying paid off as he was seen talking with two Pakistani gentlemen who entered and left the compound suspiciously. The ISI monitored the two men and were later identified as Pakistani exiles that hated the current military regime and were Bhutto loyalists. They had received terrorist training in Libya and were ready to embark on a terrorist campaign in Pakistan to force the Army to step down from power. All members of the conspiracy were apprehended before any damage could be done.
- In 1981, a Libyan Security company called Al Murtaza Associates sent recruiters to Pakistan to entice former soldiers and servicemen for high paying security jobs in Libya. In reality, Libya was recruiting mercenaries to fight with Chad and Egypt as it had border disputes with both nations. ISI became aware of the plot and the whole scheme was stopped. [See also CIA drug trafficking#Soviet Afghanistan, CIA transnational anti-crime and anti-drug activities#Southwest Asia, Operation Cyclone, Badaber Uprising].
- After the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, the U.S. media outlets such as Newsweek and Time reported that CIA agents stationed in Tehran had obtained information in regard to the location of the hostages, in-house information from a Pakistani cook who used to work for the U.S. Embassy. ISI successfully gathered evidence, and intercepted communication documents and showed it to the Iranian Chief of J-2 which cleared the cook. The Iranian chief of intelligence said, "We know, the Big Satan is a big liar."
- ISI discovered a surveillance mission to Kahuta Research Laboratories nuclear complex on June 26, 1979 by the French Ambassador to Pakistan, Le Gourrierce and his First Secretary, Jean Forlot. Both were arrested and their cameras and other sensitive equipment were confiscated. Intercepted documents later on showed that the two were recruited by the CIA.
Soviet Union and Post-Soviet states
- ISI had placed a mole in the Soviet Union's embassy in Islamabad. The mole reported that the Third Secretary in the Soviet Embassy was after information in regard to the Karakurum Highway and was obtaining it from a middle level employee, Mr. Ejaz, of the Northern Motor Transport Company. ISI contacted Mr. Ejaz who then confessed that a few months ago the Soviet diplomat approached him and threatened his family unless he divulged sensitive information in regard to the highway such as alignment of the road, location of bridges, the number of Chinese personnel working on the Highway, etc. The ISI instead of confronting the Soviet diplomat chose to feed him with false information. This continued until the Soviet diplomat was satisfied that Mr. Ejaz had been bled white of all the information and then dropped him as a source.
- Major General Sultan Habib who was an operative of the ISI's Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous department successfully procured nuclear material while being posted as the Defense Attaché in the Pakistani Embassy in Moscow from 1991 to 1993 and concurrently obtaining other materials from Central Asian Republics, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia. After Moscow, Major General Habib then coordinated shipping of missiles from North Korea and the training of Pakistani experts in the missile production. These two acts greatly enhanced Pakistan's Nuclear weapons program and their missile delivery systems.
- ISI successfully intercepted two American private weapons dealers during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s. One American diplomat (his name has not been de-classified) who lived in the F-7/4 sector of Islamabad was spotted by an ISI agent in a seedy part of Rawalpindi by his automobile's diplomatic plates. He was bugged and trailed and was found to be in contact with various tribal groups supplying them with weapons for their fight with the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Another was Eugene Clegg, a teacher in the American International School who also indulged in weapons trade. One American International School employee and under cover agent Mr. Naeem was arrested while waiting to clear shippment from Islamabad custom. All of them were put out of business.
- Some authors allege that ISI supported the 1999 release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who was subsequently convicted of the 2002 beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
- ISI is suspicious about CIA attempted penetration of Pakistan nuclear asset, and CIA intelligence gathering in the Pakistani law-less tribal areas. Based on these suspicion, it is speculated that ISI is pursuing a counter-intelligence against CIA operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. ISI former DG Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is also reported to have said, "real aim of U.S. [war] strategy is to denuclearize Pakistan."
- In the aftermath of a shooting involving American CIA agent Raymond Davis, the ISI had become more alert and suspicious about CIA spy network in Pakistan, which had disrupted the ISI-CIA cooperation. At least 30 suspected covert American operatives have suspended their activities in Pakistan and 12 have already left the country.
- A Chinese woman believed to be an ISI agent, who headed the Chinese unit of a US manufacturer was charged with illegally exporting high-performance coatings for Pakistan's nuclear power plants. Xun Wang, a former managing director of PPG Paints Trading in Shanghai, a Chinese subsidiary of United States-based PPG Industries, Inc, was indicted on a charge of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and related offences. Wang is accused of conspiring to export and re-export, and exporting and re-exporting specially designed, high-performance epoxy coatings to the Chashma 2 Nuclear Power Plant in Pakistan. Wang and her co-conspirators agreed upon a scheme to export and re-export the high-performance epoxy coatings from the United States to Pakistan's Chashma II plant, via a third-party distributor in People's Republic of China.
- ISI operative Mohammed Tasleem, an attache in the New York consulate, was found by the FBI in 2010 to be issuing threats against Pakistanis living in the United States, to prevent them from speaking openly about Pakistan's government. US officials and Pakistani journalists and scholars say the ISI has a systematic campaign to threaten those who speak critically of the Pakistan military.
Al Qaeda and Taliban militants captured
- Ramzi Yousef, one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as the Bojinka plot. Pakistani intelligence, and the Department of State – U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Special Agents, captured Yousef in Islamabad, Pakistan. On February 7, 1995, they raided room #16 in the Su-Casa Guest House in Islamabad, Pakistan, and captured Yousef before he could move to Peshawar.
- In November 2001, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan paramilitary trainer for Al-Qaeda attempted to flee Afghanistan following the collapse of the Taliban precipitating the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan but was captured by Pakistani Forces.
- Sheikh Omar Saeed, a British-born terrorist of Pakistani descent was arrested by Pakistani police on February 12, 2002, in Lahore, in conjunction with the Pearl kidnapping. Pearl had been kidnapped, had his throat slit, and then been beheaded and Sheikh Omar Saeed was named the chief suspect. Sheikh told the Pakistani court, however, that he had surrendered to the ISI a week earlier.
- Abu Zubaydah, an Al-Qaeda terrorist responsible for hatching multiple terrorist plots including sending Ahmed Ressam to blow up the Los Angeles airport in 2000. He was captured on March 28, 2002, by ISI, CIA and FBI agents after they had raided several safe houses in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
- Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an Al-Qaeda terrorist responsible for planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as the attack on 2000 USS Cole bombing, and the 2002 Ghriba synagogue bombing in Tunisia. On September 11, 2002, the ISI successfully captured Ramzi bin al-Shibh during a raid in Karachi.
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks as well as other significant terrorist plots over the last twenty years, including the World Trade Center 1993 bombings, the Operation Bojinka plot, an aborted 2002 attack on the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, the Bali nightclub bombings, the failed bombing of American Airlines Flight 63, the Millennium Plot, and the murder of Daniel Pearl. On March 1, 2003, the ISI successfully captured KSM in a joint raid with the CIA's Special Activities Division paramilitary operatives and the Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
- Abu Faraj Farj al-Liby
- Pakistani intelligence agencies and security forces arrested Abu Faraj Farj al-Liby, mastermind of two failed attempts on President Pervez Musharraf's life, in May 2005.
- Maulvi Omar
- Senior aid to Baitullah Mehsud captured by ISI in August 2009.
- Taliban's deputy commander, Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured by U.S. and Pakistani forces in Pakistan on February 8, 2010, in a morning raid.
Critics of the ISI say that it has become a state within a state and not accountable enough. Some analysts say that this is because of the fact that intelligence work agencies around the world remain secretive. Critics argue the institution should be more accountable enough to the President or the Prime Minister. After discovering it, the Pakistani Government disbanded the ISI 'Political Wing' in 2008.
During the Cold War the ISI and CIA worked together to send spy planes into the Soviet Union. The ISI and CIA also worked closely during the Soviet-Afghan War supporting groups such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami and Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network.
Some report the ISI and CIA stepped up cooperation in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks to kill and capture senior Al Qaeda leaders such as Sheikh Younis Al Mauritan and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (the planner of the 9/11 attacks who was residing in Pakistan). Pakistan claims that in total around 100 top level al-Qaeda leaders/operators were killed/arrested by ISI. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Pakistan was paying a "big price for supporting the U.S. war against terror groups. ... I think it is important to note that as they have made these adjustments in their own assessment of their national interests, they're paying a big price for it".
Other senior international officials, however, maintain that senior Al Qaeda leaders such as Osama Bin Laden have been hidden by the ISI in major settled areas of Pakistan with the full knowledge of the Pakistani military leadership. A December 2011 analysis report by the Jamestown Foundation came to the conclusion that "in spite of denials by the Pakistani military, evidence is emerging that elements within the Pakistani military harbored Osama bin Laden with the knowledge of former army chief General Pervez Musharraf and possibly current Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Former Pakistani General Ziauddin Butt (a.k.a. General Ziauddin Khawaja) revealed at a conference on Pakistani–U.S. relations in October 2011 that according to his knowledge the then former Director-General of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan (2004–2008), Brigadier Ijaz Shah (retd.), had kept Osama bin Laden in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad." Pakistani General Ziauddin Butt said Bin Laden had been hidden in Abbottabad by the ISI "with the full knowledge" of Pervez Musharraf but later denied making any such statement, saying his words were altered by the media, he said: "It is the hobby of the Western media to distort the facts for their own purposes." U.S. military officials have increasingly said, they do not notify Pakistani officials before conducting operations against the Afghan Taliban or Al Qaeda, because they fear Pakistani officials may tip them off.
International officials have accused the ISI of continuing to support and even lead the Taliban today in the War in Afghanistan (2001-present). As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen stated:
The fact remains that the Quetta Shura [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 US soldiers. ... For example, we believe the Haqqani Network—which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government ... is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.—
The Associated Press reported that "the president said Mullen's statement 'expressed frustration' over the insurgent safe havens in Pakistan. But Obama said 'the intelligence is not as clear as we might like in terms of what exactly that relationship is.' Obama added that whether Pakistan's ties with the Haqqani network are active or passive, Pakistan has to deal with it."
The Guantanamo Bay files leak, however, showed that the US authorities unofficially consider the ISI as a terrorist organization equally dangerous as Al Qaeda and Taliban, and many allegations of its supporting terrorist activities have been made.
India has accused ISI of plotting the Mumbai terror attack in March 1993 and November 2008. According to the United States diplomatic cables leak the ISI had previously shared intelligence information regarding possible terrorist attacks against in India in late 2008. ISI is also accused of supporting pro independence militias in Jammu and Kashmir while Pakistan denies all such claims.
Human rights abuses
The ISI have been accused of severe human rights abuses. The ISI has been accused of massive human rights abuses in Balochistan by Human Rights Watch, with the disappearances of hundreds of separatists and terrorists. In 2008 alone an estimated 1102 people were disappeared from the region. There have also been reports of torture. An increasing number of bodies are being found on roadsides having been shot in the head. In July 2011, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report on illegal disappearances in Balochistan and identified ISI and Frontier Corps as the perpetrators. Through daily news reports it has been noted that ISI and Frontier Corps puts to death illegally abducted Balochs whenever there is attack on FC's personnel or bases in Balochistan. The local security agencies claim that the terror acts are carried out by the BLA, funded by Indian Intelligence Agency – RAW. Till September 2011 more than 190 dead bodies have been found. The Frontier Corps and ISI have been accused of being behind the killing. The Special Operations Wing (SOW) of Frontier Corps has also been allegedly involved in it. The methodology of ISI is to work with Frontier Corps to tackle the situation. ISI has installed various intelligence units all over Pakistan to gather information. Most of ISI's alleged abductions come from the Makran and coastal regions of Balochistan. Baloch passengers of these areas have witnessed illegal abductions by ISI on the local bus routes of Balochistan.
Allegations of support for terrorists
The ISI has long been accused of using designated terrorist groups and militants to conduct proxy wars against its neighbors. According to Grant Holt and David H. Gray "The agency specializes in utilizing terrorist organizations as proxies for Pakistani foreign policy, covert action abroad, and controlling domestic politics." James Forest says there has been increasing proof from counter-terrorism organizations that militants and the Taliban continue to receive assistance from the ISI, as well as the establishment of camps to train terrorists on Pakistani territory. All external operations are carried out under the supervision of the S Wing of the ISI. The agency is divided into Eight divisions. Joint Intelligence/North(JIN) is responsible for conducting operations in Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan. The Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau(JSIB) provide support with communications to groups in Kashmir. According to Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, both former members of the National Security Council, the ISI acted as a "kind of terrorist conveyor belt" radicalizing young men in the Madrassas in Pakistan and delivering them to training camps affiliated with or run by Al-Qaeda and from there moving them into Jammu and Kashmir to launch attacks.
Support for militants
From the 1990s, the ISI began to court the Jihadists who had emerged from the conflict against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and by 2000 the majority of militant groups operating in Kashmir were either based in Pakistan or were pro Pakistan. These groups are used to conduct a low intensity conflict against India. According to Stephen P. Cohen and Wilson John, the ISI's aid to and creation of designated terrorist groups and religious extremist groups is well documented. The ISI have been accused of having close ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba who carried out the attacks in Mumbai in 2008. The ISI have also given aid to Hizbul Mujahideen. Terrorism expert Gus Martin has said the ISI has a long history of supporting designated terrorist groups and pro Independence groups operating in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir which fight against Indian interests. The ISI also helped with the founding of the group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Hizbul Mujahideen were created as the Kashmiri branch of Jama'at-i Islamiya(JeL). It has been reported that JeL founded Hizbul Mujahideen at the request of the ISI to counter the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front(JKLF) who are advocates for the independence of Kashmir.
There have been three incarnations of the group Al-Badr. According to Peter Tomsen, the ISI in conjunction with Jamaat-e-Islami formed the first Al-Badr who were involved in the genocides in Bangladesh in the 1970s. The third Al-Badr (India)
The ISI supported Al-Qaeda during the war against the soviet regime, through the Taliban, and it is believed there are still contact between Al-Qaeda and the ISI. An assessment by British Intelligence in 2000 into Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan showed the ISI were playing an active role in some of them. The leak in 2012 of e-mails from Stratfor revealed that papers captured during the raid in Abbotabad on Osama Bin Laden's compound showed up to 12 ISI officials knew where he was and that Bin Laden had been in regular contact with the ISI.
Joint Intelligence/North(JIN) are responsible for the control of the heroin trade used to finance ISI operations. They have control over opium production and refining and also control all smuggling operations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They also control the Army of Islam which consists of Al Qaeda, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al-Badr and Jaish-e-Mohammed
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen were founded in the 1980s by the ISI to fight against Indian interests.
Jammu and Kashmir
The ISI have close links to the Haqqani network and contribute heavily to their funding. It is widely believed the suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul was planned with the help of the ISI A report in 2008 from the Director of National Intelligence stated that the ISI provides intelligence and funding to help with attacks against the International Security Assistance Force, the Afghan government and Indian targets.
According to the Institute for Conflict Management, of the 36 extremist groups operating in Assam against Indian interests, the ISI sponsors the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam and the United Liberation Front of Assam.
The ISI is also active in Nepal, which was proven on August 1, 2007, by the arrest of Abdul Wahab, a Pakistani national and ISI agent who was detained in Kathmandu with $252,000 worth of counterfeit Indian currency.
Indian intelligence agencies have claimed they have undeniable proof of ISI involvement with the Naxalites. A classified report accessed by the newspaper Asian Age said "the ISI in particular wants Naxals to cause largescale damage to infrastructure projects and industrial units operating in the interior parts of the country where ISI’s own terror network is non-existent". In 2010, police in Bangalore claimed to have found evidence that the ISI were using local mafia types, Chhota Shakeel and Dawood Ibrahim, to establish links with the Naxalites.
- ISI uses different types of equipment connected and shared from Special Operations Forces. The Primary weapon given to ISI Operatives is FN Five-Seven, Heckler & Koch USP and Glock Pistols.
Losses suffered by ISI
- One intelligence official was killed among twenty four people when a bus was hit by bomb. The information about victims that were present on that bus is contradictory and vague. Some media reports said that it was military bus while other reports claimed that bus was carrying employees of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).
- A suicide bomber struck his vehicle into bus carrying officials killing at least 28 people on November 28, 2007 outside ISI office in Rawalpindi.
- 30 people including four officials of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and 14 policemen were killed and over 300 were injured when three people attacked ISI office on May 27, 2009. The attackers fired at ISI office and policemen present there. The guards at ISI building fought back. During the incident of firing explosive laden vehicle detonated
- At least 13 people among 10 military personnel were killed when suicide bomber blew up his van into agency’s Peshawar office on November 13, 2009. Around 400 kg of explosives were used which destroyed significant portion of building.
- Two attackers ambushed Multan office in which 8 people were killed and 45 were injured on December 8, 2009. Two army personnel were dead and seven while seven officials were injured. About 800–1000 kg of explosives were used.
- A car bomb exploded at CNG station in Faisalabad on March 8, 2011 killing 25 people and injuring more than 100. Taliban spokesman Mr. Ehsanullah Ehsan told that nearby located ISI office was the target. No losses of ISI personnel were reported except only 1 official was injured.
- Three intelligence officials were killed and one was wounded when vehicle carrying agency's personnel was ambushed in FR Bannu on 14 September 2011.
- Four ISI officials were killed and 35 people were injured when local office of ISI was attacked by 5 suicide bombers in Sukkur on July 24, 2013.
- 2 officials were killed in the area of Rawalpindi when there car was struck by a suicide bomber
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In the 1980s the ISI was instrumental in supporting seven Sunni Muslim mujahedeen groups in their jihad against the Soviets, and was the principal conduit of covert US and Saudi funding. It subsequently played a pivotal rôle in the emergence of the Taliban (Coll 2005:292) and Pakistan provided significant political, financial, military and logistical support to the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan (1996–2001)(Rashid 2001).
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