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Security team blames foreign spy agencies for attacks

24 August, 2012

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KABUL: Even as the Afghan government says that it would take new measures to counter a wave of deadly insider killings of Western troops by Afghan security forces, President Hamid Karzai's office asserted for the first time that foreign spy agencies were behind most of the attacks, putting it directly at odds with NATO's assessment of the crisis.

After a special meeting of the president's security advisers, Karzai's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said Afghan authorities were studying every known insider attack, also known as green-on-blue attacks. He said that based on interrogations of attackers who had been detained, and other evidence like letters and records of phone calls, the government had concluded that the main culprits in the killings had been put in place by intelligence services from neighboring countries.

He did not name them, but the government frequently accuses Pakistan and Iran of meddling, the New York Times said. "The investigation done so far shows there is infiltration by foreign spy agencies," Mr. Faizi said. "There is no doubt there is infiltration."

Many Western officials here, and American officials at the Pentagon, were surprised by the government's assertions, and some privately sought to discount the spokesman's remarks. "We don't have indications that foreign entities are the locus of sponsorship for insider-attack threats," said a senior Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid publicly differing with the Afghan president.

The Afghan government allowed that some of the attacks were also motivated by outrage over actions by American troops, including the burning of Quran at an American base and the video images of Marines urinating on dead insurgents. But Afghan officials said that the Taliban and other insurgent groups were the ones mainly responsible, and that these were to a large extent directed by foreign countries' intelligence agencies, though they did not offer specific evidence.

A senior Pakistani security official reached by telephone called the insinuation "hogwash" and said that the Afghan government always tried to blame the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's spy agency. The idea that the Pakistani ISI has directly supported attacks in Afghanistan against American targets is not new.

Though the Afghan claims of foreign involvement in insider attacks go beyond any evidence presented by coalition officials, some would not rule it out entirely. Col. David A. Lapan, a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, said that General Dempsey spoke with Mr.

Karzai by phone on Tuesday morning while both were in Afghanistan and that Mr. Karzai committed to working with the United States to examine potential causes for the attacks, including whether they might be the work of outside spy agencies. "We certainly don't see this as the one" reason, Colonel Lapan said Wednesday. Nonetheless, he said, "we don't know what's causing them, and we're looking at everything."


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