Jun 11 2008

Exactly What Happened On The Pakistan-Afghan Border? Did We Uncover Taliban Allies Inside The Pakistan Government?

Update (2nd):  The BBC has pentagon video footage of the air strikes demonstrating the fire was directed at anti-Afghan forces (AAF) firing upon coalition forces inside Afghanistan, supporting the US claims and calling into question the Taliban and what appears to be ISI claims, as discussed below. – end update

There appears to be some ‘walking back’ of the outrage at the US by some areas of the Pakistan government regarding the incident on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which apparently began with militants from Pakistan crossing over the border and attacking Afghan and/or NATO (US) forces inside Afghanistan.  From there it gets murky.  I will use a combination of recent reports since my previous posts on the matter (here, here and here) to see if we can solve the riddle.  

Because this is long and requires cross checking various sources let me give the bottom line up front.  Taliban sources in one news outlet from Greece (I think) claim the incident was due to coalition forces attacking a Pakistan outpost (ludicrous, I know – there is not a rational reason for this).  An independent AFP source noted as a Pak ‘security official’ (which should mean ISI) also independently makes the same claim.  

Then later, another Pakistan ‘security official’ states the incident actually began with a Taliban incursion into Afghanistan from Pakistan, which was repulsed and the US traced the attackers back and sent bombs to their positions.  This source mirrors the US claims.

My conclusion is that the incident actually exposed a much rumored ISI mole who is working for the Taliban, and seems to point to a situation where the Frontier Corps manning the outposts are manned by Taliban allies who probably provided cover fire for their retreating allies and attracted US fire.  The rest of this is how I knitted together various news reports to reach this conclusion.

Let’s begin with an al-Jazeera report that quotes a Pakistani official admitting that the incident began when insurgents crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan:

The soldiers were killed at a border post in the Mohmand region, opposite Afghanistan’s Kunar province, as US-led forces clashed with fighters attacking from Pakistan, a Pakistani security official said.

“The militants launched a cross-border attack into Afghanistan … our soldiers were killed in a counter-offensive by forces in Afghanistan,” said the official, who declined to be identified.

Emphasis mine.  This is a Pakistan source admitting there was an incursion from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Other reports (like this one from AFP) seem to take the Taliban side of the story where the claim is Afghan troops entered Pakistan to try and take over a Frontier Corps outpost:

Pakistani security officials said the deaths came after Afghan troops crossed the porous frontier and tried to occupy the strategic Pakistani post in the troubled tribal belt, which borders eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

The post was in an area long disputed between the countries.

Pakistani troops repulsed the Afghan soldiers and the coalition then bombed the area. Coalition aircraft also killed around 15 Taliban about a kilometre (half a mile) away, the officials said.

Emphasis mine.  It is interesting to note the source for this ‘side’ of the story. It seems possible this whacky claim may be coming from elements within the ISI.  Keep this in mind as we unravel the accounts because it has been long claimed the ISI has Taliban and al-Qaeda sympathizers and allies amongst its ranks.  Here is the Taliban side of the story as reported by al-Jazeera:

Maulvi Omar, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman, said that his fighters had attacked US and Afghan forces as they were setting up a position on the Pakistan side of the border.

So why are some ‘security officials’ from Pakistan towing the Taliban line while other Pakistani security officials are stating clearly the US action was in response to attack from forces originating in Pakistan (per a recent Reuters article)?

The soldiers were killed in what a Pakistani security official said was a counter-offensive after militants had launched an attack into Afghanistan. The U.S. military said the strike had been aimed at anti-Afghan militants and Pakistan had been told in advance.

 Moreover, in this report the Pakistan Ambassador is all but calling the US response an honest mistake:

“We will look upon this as an incident that is not an intentional action to cause harm to Pakistan,” said Haqqani, who took up his duties in Washington this month.

“The issue has been discussed between representatives of the government of Pakistan and representatives of the U.S. government, and we would like the circumstances of the incident investigated,” he added.

“We do look upon it as not an act that should cause us to reconsider our partnership, but rather to find ways of improving that partnership,” Haqqani said in an interview with Reuters reporters.

He stopped short of calling the air strike accidental, saying its character could not be fully determined until after an investigation.

So, what happened after the attack on Afghan and/or NATO (US) forces?  Here is a US version of events from the International Herald Tribune (a version that is consistent with the ‘security official’ in the al-Jazeera story who admit there was an incursion by Taliban into Afghanistan and a strike on military forces):

The U.S. military in Afghanistan and Pentagon officials said coalition forces responded to fire from “anti-Afghan forces,” their name for insurgents who frequently cross the border from sanctuaries in Pakistan to mount attacks in Afghanistan.

A Pentagon official in Washington said that after coalition forces returned fire on the ground, two U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter-bombers and one B-1 bomber dropped about a dozen bombs – mostly 500-pound laser-guided munitions – on the attackers.

Again, Emphasis mine.  Warfare 101, you return fire along the path of incoming fire.  And trust me when I say the US can backtrack just about any weapon or projectile right back to its source.  So, we have Pakistan sources and US sources agreeing there was an incursion, and the Afghan-NATO forces returned fire on the fleeing fighters.  Then we have another Pakistan source whose story aligns with the fiction of the Taliban story (including numerous dead US forces and a supposedly downed chopper).  Well, we can see we have two sides, and Pakistan sources supporting both.

Again, from the IHT quote above we note that ‘coalition forces’ returned ground fire.  These could be Afghan and/or NATO forces.   Then the US sent fighters and bombers back to the source of weapons fire across the border.  Here is the key comment from the US side in the IHT article:

“The bombs hit the target they were aimed at,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

In the AFP article we see confirming reports:

The US-led coalition said an investigation was ongoing but did not specifically refer to the Pakistani allegations about the deaths.

In a statement, it said its soldiers had repelled a militant attack during an operation in Afghanistan that was previously coordinated with Pakistan.

Coalition forces informed the Pakistani army that they were coming under fire from “anti-Afghan” forces in a wooded area near the Gora Prai checkpoint in Pakistan, it said.

OK, this looks to be settling down to a pattern – but how is it the Fronteir Corps outpost came under attack?  Well it seems, in some of the reporting from different sources, they were firing on the Afghan and US forces.  First, from a Taliban biased Pakistan news outlet, we see this:

At least 27 people including 20 army soldiers were killed while 10 other sustained serious injures and 40 are missing when Afghan and NATO forces launched attacked a border check post country’s tribal areas of Mohmand Agency.

Yes, but this attack was in response to the incursion and attack on them – it was defensive.  And there is more:

Violating Pakistan’s airspace and sovereignty, US allied forces planes bombed Gluno village, Nadir Klay, and Bahadur Klay forts in Mohmand agency leaving 7 tribesmen, an army major and 19 soldiers dead and 10 injured. 

Afghan and NATO forces attacked the Frontier Core (FC) Choparra check post on night between Tuesday and Wednesday. There was heavy exchange of fire between the Afghan and Pakistani forces that continued for many hours but no loss of Afghan forces was reported. 

And also here in the IHT article an admission the Pakistani forces were firing on the coalition forces:

The circumstances surrounding the reported deaths were unclear. It was not certain from the U.S. or Pakistani accounts whether the Pakistani soldiers knew they were firing at the coalition forces.

News agencies reported that militants based in Pakistan had sought to infiltrate Afghanistan, provoking a counterattack late Tuesday by coalition forces, during which the paramilitary soldiers were killed.

So why were some Pakistani sources claiming the initiating incursion was by Afghanis into Pakistan to take a dumb little outpost?  Why were those stories mirroring the Taliban BS?  Why were there militants in the region of the outpost firing into Afghanistan and people in the outpost firing into Afghanistan?

And I am really scratching my head over the early assertions this was an ‘unprovoked’ attack on Pakistan by coalition forces (from AFP)?

In an unusually harsh statement, a Pakistani army spokesman “condemned this completely unprovoked and cowardly act” and said 11 soldiers died in the overnight air strike, including an officer.

“The incident had hit at the very basis of cooperation and sacrifice with which Pakistani soldiers are supporting the coalition in the war against terror,” the statement quoted the spokesman as saying.

Clearly this ‘source’ had no clue what he was talking about. It is idiotic to think the US would attack Pakistan forces (until at least Obama wins the election and orders the attack while scheduling his meetings with Iran’s Mad Mullahs).  The US knows where these outposts are.  The US and Pakistanis are building matching intelligence outposts and check points on both sides of the border.   So when they traced back fire to the outpost of course they alerted the Pakistanis – probably assuming another outpost was taken over by Taliban (as some had been previously in the past year).  There is no reason to claim this incident was ‘unprovoked’.

 But this lame claim does have all the earmarks of a hastily made, clumsy attempt at a cover up by trying to point the blame somewhere else. What if there was coordination from the outpost with the militants, looking the other way when they executed their incursion into Afghanistan and providing defensive cover fire for them as they retreated.   What if the ISI did have a corrupt element aligned with the Taliban and was making sure sympathizers took key positions in the Frontier Corps to protect the terrorists and their cross border raids?  

Why else would we see Taliban sources claim they came to the defense of the Frontier Corps when they came under attack by invading coalition forces?

“The multiple Taliban groups operating on both sides, in the Afghan Kunar Valley and in the Mohmand Agency, spotted the NATO forces launched at Mohmand Agency’s mountain top, Sarhasoko military post,” said Taliban spokesperson Zubair Mujahid in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI). 

Mujahid is the spokesperson for Qari Ziaur Rahman, the Taliban commander in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nooristan.

“We found Pakistani troops struggling against the NATO forces, so we activated our network all over the area,” he told AKI.

The Taliban claimed that the Pakistani security forces were attacked by NATO troops during the operation. 

“Pakistani security forces were under siege and were almost forced to evacuate the military post by the NATO troops, when we opened fire on them from multiple positions,” Mujahid told AKI. 

“Our attack was so unexpected for NATO that they had to retreat.”

Isn’t simply stunning how close this Taliban account is to the “Pakistan security official” source in the AFP story I lead the post with?  They are not talking to the same newspapers and they supposedly are on opposite sides – but the two stories match incredibly well.  Did the AFP quote an undercover Taliban official?  Seems so to me!  

I believe this ridiculous claim of an attack on Pakistan from Afghanistan is a crude lie cooked up by folks who realized it was blatantly obvious some Frontier Corps forces (who are recruited from the local tribes) were caught fighting alongside mlitant Taliban forces.  Their support earned them some US bombs in their outpost.  

If it became known that there were ISI elements helping coordinate cover for the Taliban and al-Qaeda through these Frontier Corps, so the Taliban could attack Afghanistan, the new Pak government’s policy of negotiation and appeasement would collapse and the Pakistan electorate would turn it out of office (there is no support for Islamo Fascism in Pakistan – as the last election showed as militants were nearly universally thrown out of office)

One thing all sources admit is there was fighting between the Frontier Corps and coalition forces before the air strikes were called in.  The US simply traced the fire back to the originating locations and sent down some bombs.  I think we finally have exposed some corrupt ISI officials who are allies of the Taliban inside the Pak military and government.  These officials fed disinformation to the ever gullible and naive news media claiming there was an attack from Afghanistan, while the US and other Pak officials admit the incursion was from Pakistan.

Very illuminating!

Update:  The most recent US statement on the event, further clarifying the sequence, confirms my speculation that the Frontier Corps outpost joined the fire fight late, as the Taliban fighters retreated into Pakistan, providing cover fire:

“Shortly after the attack began, coalition forces informed the Pakistan Army that they were being engaged by anti-Afghan forces in a wooded area near the Gora Prai checkpoint,” he said.

“At the same time, an unmanned aerial system also identified anti-Afghan forces firing at coalition forces. In self-defence, coalition forces fired artillery rounds at the militants.”

Lt Perry claimed that an unmanned aerial system identified additional anti-Afghan forces joining the attack against the coalition forces.

First there was the attack, then the counter-attack, and then the cover fire from the outposts directed at US and coalition forces, making those outposts legitimate targets.   And I think when the dust settles it will be discovered ISI sympathizers (like the one who was the source for the AFP story) helped Taliban agents get slots in the Frontier Corps so their comrades could slip across the border and execute raids.

There will be some major egg on some faces in Islamabad tomorrow.  Bush has no time for games from these idiots.  No more covering up for our screwed up allies.

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Exactly What Happened On The Pakistan-Afghan Border? Did We Uncover Taliban Allies Inside The Pakistan Government?”

  1. kathie says:

    The sad thing is that I happened to turn to CNN and saw their coverage of the incident, they were happy to quote the Pakistani fool that we killed their guys and it was terrible. Why when our guys are fighting for their lives, and are so careful would CNN make us look bad over and over again? Even the war in Afghanistan is a bad war it seems.

  2. crosspatch says:

    “it has been long claimed the ISI has Taliban and al-Qaeda sympathizers and allies amongst its ranks.”

    The ISI practically INVENTED the Taliban.

    From a 2006 story in the Telegraph:

    The ISI helped the Taliban rise to power in the mid-1990s, largely in an attempt to ensure that Kabul would be in the hands of rulers who were sympathetic to Islamabad and therefore grant Pakistan much-coveted strategic depth in the event of a conflict with India.

    The Pakistani strategic goal for the Taliban was to have Afghanistan under control of Pashtun tribes based in Pakistan. It provides an additional buffer on their Northern border and ensures a friendly and cooperative neighbor.


    Kathie, you are experiencing agenda-based “activist” journalism. It is their goal to portray ALL military action by the IUS in a negative light until a Democrat comes to power and then all military action will then be shown in a positive light. It is part of a long-term brainwashing of the American people. After enough years of exposure to that kind of tripe, people have a negative recollection of Republican administrations and a positive recollection of news stories of Democratic administrations. They are attempting the influence the future by manipulating how you experience the present.

  3. crosspatch says:

    And Kathie, there a remedy for it. Just don’t expose yourself to that kind of information. Once you have determined that you are being fed lies, don’t watch it. I haven’t watched a CNN program in years. I don’t care what they say, I never watch it and neither does an increasing portion of the US public. Fox has far and away more viewers than CNN in practically every single timeslot save reruns of earlier programs late in the evening.

  4. lurker9876 says:

    The only show on CNN that is worth watching is Glenn Beck. He is a Mormon and the ONLY conservative talk host on CNN. Do try his show a few times. Problem is that he is on the road doing his comedy show. Yes, he is multi-talented. Used to be an alcoholic and a DJ. He admits this from time to time.

  5. […] Exactly What Happened On The Pakistan-Afghan Border? Did We … Then the US sent fighters and bombers back to the source of weapons fire across the border. Here is the key comment from the US side in the IHT article:. “The bombs hit the target they were aimed at,” said the official, who spoke on … […]

  6. kathie says:

    Thanks Crosspatch……usually I don’t watch CNN……but sometimes they have all the information you want to know about how the dems feel about the dems….gush, gush gush. It just happened Barbara Star was talking about how we killed, again, Pakistani soldiers, and how mad they were at our recklessness. The implication was we will have to patch another relationship.

  7. Soothsayer says:

    Bush has no time for games from these idiots.

    Bush has no time for games with our most important ally in the War On Terror? The largest democracy in the region, and the one with a large cache of nuclear weapons that would fall into very wrong hands should the government fall?? My understadning is the Pakistani government claims US forces only have the right of “hot pursuit” when and if they coordinate with Pakistan, and they claim that was not done and label the US strike “unprovoked and cowardly” whatever that is supposed to mean.

    Bush does have time, however, to embarrass the US and parade his increasingly irrelevant carcass around Europe, irritating the locals in his increasingly desperate efforts to gin up yet another war we can’t afford with Islam by sabre-rattling at Iran. Apparently Bush is not satisfied with gas prices at merely $5.00 a gallon, and has decided to go all in on $10.00 a gallon at the pump, whcih would be the inevitable result should the US be so misguided as to pre-emptively strike Iran or allow Israel to do so.

    On the home front, Grumpy McSameâ„¢ can’t even get Republicans to support his efforts, as The Hill reports:

    At least 14 Republican members of Congress have refused to endorse or publicly support Sen. John McCain for president, and more than a dozen others declined to answer whether they back the Arizona senator.

    Many of the recalcitrant GOP members declined to detail their reasons for withholding support, but Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) expressed major concerns about McCain’s energy policies and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) cited the Iraq war.

  8. […] AJ Strata is thinking along similar lines to mine: I believe this ridiculous claim of an attack on Pakistan from Afghanistan is a crude lie cooked up by folks who realized it was blatantly obvious some Frontier Corps forces (who are recruited from the local tribes) were caught fighting alongside mlitant Taliban forces. There support earned them some US bombs in their outpost. […]

  9. […] AJ at The Strata-Sphere looks at what happened in Pakistan yesterday: Exactly What Happened On The Pakistan-Afghan Border? Did We Uncover Taliban Allies Inside The Pakist… […]

  10. […] Exactly What Happened On The Pakistan-Afghan Border? Did We … The US simply traced the fire back to the originating locations and sent down some bombs. I think we finally have exposed some corrupt ISI officials who are allies of the Taliban inside the Pak military and government. … […]

  11. […] involved an hours long fire fight between US forces-Afghan forces and Pakistan-Taliban forces here, here, here, here and here.   To summarize I speculated that the Pak Frontier Corps (FC) outpost that […]