CIA activities in Asia

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Middle East[edit]

Arabian Peninsula[edit]

On November 5, 2002, Al Qaeda operatives Abu Ali al-Harithi, Kamal Derwish and others in a car traveling through Yemen were killed in a targeted killing by a missile launched from a CIA controlled Predator drone.[1]

On September 30, 2011 Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American U.S. citizen and al-Qaeda member, was killed by an air attack carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command. After several days of surveillance of al-Awlaki by the Central Intelligence Agency, armed drones took off from a new, secret American base in the Arabian Peninsula, crossed into northern Yemen, and unleashed a barrage of Hellfire missiles at al-Awlaki's vehicle. Samir Khan, a Pakistani-American al-Qaeda member and editor of the jihadist Inspire magazine, also reportedly died in the attack. The combined CIA/JSOC drone strike was the first in Yemen since 2002 — there have been others by the military’s Special Operations forces — and was part of an effort by the spy agency to duplicate in Yemen the covert war which has been running in Afghanistan and Pakistan.[2][3]

Central Asia[edit]

South Asia[edit]

East Asia[edit]

Southeast Asia[edit]

It has been alleged that the CIA was involved in the opium/heroin trade in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and later, which was the focus of Alfred W. McCoy's book, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. The CIA's air cargo operation, Air America, has also been accused of transporting drugs. See CIA activities by transnational topic: crime and illicit drug trade.[4]

Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) 10-62[edit]

Southeast Asia 1962[edit]

SNIE 10-62 was written to estimate communist objectives, military and subversive capabilities, and short-term intentions in continental Southeast Asia.[5] Its major conclusions:

The long-range communist bloc objectives in Southeast Asia are to eliminate US influence and presence and to establish communist regimes throughout the area. If the current differences between Moscow and Peiping continue to grow, a major split on Southeast Asia policy could ensue, but they are in general agreement at present. In the event of a Sino-Soviet split, Peiping and Hanoi, which have special interests in Southeast Asia, might resort to more militant tactics.

While the PRC and DRVN have superior land armies, the intelligence community (IC) estimates that they will concentrate on trying to achieve their objectives through subversion, political action, and support of "national liberation" struggles, so as to minimize the risks of Western, particularly US, military intervention. Their priorities are Laos and South Vietnam.

Laos SNIE[edit]

The intelligence community continues to believe that the communists do not intend to initiate an all-out military effort to seize Laos. Should a war break out, the communists would probably win, even if that required troops from North Vietnam. As long as they believe they can achieve the goals politically, they will avoid military action.

South Vietnam SNIE[edit]

In South Vietnam, we believe that there will be no significant change over the short run in the current pattern of Viet Cong activity, although the scope and tempo of the communist military and political campaigns will probably be increased. The Viet Cong will probably again resort to large-scale attacks, seeking to dramatize the weakness of the Diem forces and to reduce both civilian and military morale, in an effort to bring about Diem's downfall under circumstances which could be exploited to Communist advantage.

Thailand SNIE[edit]

In Thailand, the initial effort of communist China and North Vietnam will probably be to increase their subversive potential, particularly in the northeastern frontier area. Concurrently, the Soviets will continue to employ a combination of political pressures, military threats, and economic inducements to persuade the Thai government to seek accommodation with the bloc and adopt a more neutral policy.

The communists almost certainly believe that by sapping the independence of Laos they will be advancing their interests in Thailand as well.

Cambodia and Burma SNIE[edit]

The neutralist positions of Cambodia and Burma are acceptable to the communists for the time being. Communist activity in both countries will, therefore, probably be kept at low key.

ASEAN and related groups[edit]

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) consists of ten countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Some share concerns over Islamic terrorism and piracy. Those bordering the South China Sea, with the exception of Cambodia, have competing claims with China for the Spratly and Paracel Islands. It was formed in 1967 by five non-communist states to strengthen their defence against communism. Their cooperation improved over time, although there still was support from outside powers.[6][7]

Other sources include the Five Powers Defence Arrangements (FPDA) of Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia, which includes three members of the UKUSA alliance with strong national SIGINT organizations and well-established relationships with the US Intelligence Community. John Moore, then Minister for Defence of Australia said, "As an established multilateral security framework, the FPDA has a unique role in Asia. It is of strategic benefit to all member nations and, in Australia's view, to the wider Asia-Pacific region."[8]

With respect to the US, these are most likely to work with the US Pacific Command PACOM (military) intelligence and the NSA, but there may well be cooperation with the CIA and US international law enforcement on transnational issues.

For some years, the ASEAN countries have held annual intelligence summits. It is unclear, however, if intelligence ties preceded or followed the development of military relationships[6]

US relations to an ASEAN or other group may be more domestically acceptable, in countries suspicious of the US, than bilateral arrangements. There are obvious reasons for regional nations wanting US intelligence support, including SIGINT[citation needed]. Nevertheless, the eagerness of the US to help against Islamic groups strikes at local sensitivities. Thailand and Malaysia have a good record working together against the Communist Party of Malaysia. There is a joint training/couterterrorism center with the US in Malaysia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeffrey Addicott (November 7, 2002). "The Yemen attack: illegal assassination or lawful killing?". Jurist. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Same US military unit that got Osama bin laden [sic] killed Anwar al-Awlaki", The Telegraph, UK (September 30, 2011)
  3. ^ Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Robert F. Worth, "Two-Year Manhunt Led to Killing of Awlaki in Yemen", New York Times (September 30, 2011)
  4. ^ Dale Scott, Peter. Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Columbia and Indochina (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) ISBN 0-7425-2522-8
  5. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (1962-02-21), Special National Intelligence Estimate 10-62: Communist Objectives, Capabilities, and Intentions in Southeast Asia 
  6. ^ a b John C. Margeson (12 January 2007), "Cooperation Among Foreign Intelligence Services", Contemporary Perspectives and Review, retrieved 2007-10-16 
  7. ^ Sheldon W. Simon (June 2003), U.S. Policy and Terrorism in Southeast Asia (– Scholar search), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, retrieved 2007-10-16 [dead link]
  8. ^ Media Release: Five Power Defence Meeting, Defence Ministers & Parliamentary Secretary(Australia), July 4, 2000, archived from the original on 2008-02-02, retrieved 2007-11-25