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'US used 2005 Kashmir earthquake to send JSOC operatives in Pakistan'

Washington, Wed, 15 Feb 2012 ANI

Washington, Feb 15 (ANI): The United States used the 2005 Kashmir earthquake to send operatives from the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC - the elite military unit that killed former al-Qaeda leafer Osama bin Laden - into Pakistan, a new book has revealed.


The book-'The Command: Deep Inside the President's Secret Army' written by DB Grady and Marc Ambinder, says that the JSOC has proven to be the most lethal weapon in President Barack Obama's arsenal. The JSOC's counterterrorism units are credited with capturing or killing many of the most wanted terrorists and insurgent leaders, including Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, The News reports.


The book comes at a time when Admiral William McRaven, who leads the JSOC, is pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy.


Reports suggest that dozens of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives and contractors came to the country, using valid US passports and posing as construction and aid workers.


"Al-Qaeda had reconstituted itself in the country's tribal areas, largely because of the ISI's benign neglect. In Afghanistan, the ISI was actively undermining the US-backed government of Hamid Karzai, training and recruiting for the Taliban, which it viewed as the more reliable partner. The political system was in chaos. The Pakistani army was focused on the threat from India and had redeployed away from the Afghanistan border region, the Durand Line, making it porous once again. A JSOC intelligence team slipped in alongside the CIA," the book said.


Giving details of the JSOC team's goals in Pakistan the authors said one was prosaic: team members were to develop rings of informants to gather targeting information about Al-Qaeda terrorists. Other goals were extremely sensitive: JSOC needed better intelligence about how Pakistan transported its nuclear weapons and it wanted to penetrate the ISI and target Pakistani officers who were hand-in-glove with the terrorists.


"Under a secret program code-named Screen Hunter, JSOC, augmented by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and contract personnel, was authorised to shadow and identify members of the ISI suspected of being sympathetic to Qaeda," the book said.


It is not clear whether JSOC units used lethal force against these ISI officers; one official said that the goal of the program was to track terrorists through the ISI by using disinformation and psychological warfare," it added. (ANI)


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