Pakistani Role Is Suspected in Revealing U.S. Spy’s Name
By MARK MAZZETTI and SALMAN MASOOD
The American spy’s hurried departure is the latest evidence of mounting tensions between two uneasy allies, with the Obama administration’s strategy for ending the war in Afghanistan hinging on the cooperation of Pakistan in the hunt for militants in the mountains that border those two countries. The tensions could intensify in the coming months with the prospect of more American pressure on
As the cloak-and-dagger drama was playing out in
American officials said the C.I.A. station chief had received a number of death threats since being publicly identified in a legal complaint sent to the Pakistani police this week by the family of victims of earlier drone campaigns.
The American officials said they strongly suspected that operatives of Pakistan’s powerful spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, had a hand in revealing the C.I.A. officer’s identity — possibly in retaliation for a civil lawsuit filed in Brooklyn last month implicating the ISI chief in the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not immediately provide details to support their suspicions.
The mistrust between the C.I.A. and ISI, two uneasy but co-dependent allies, could hardly come at a worse time. The Obama administration’s Afghan war strategy depends on greater cooperation from
“We will continue to help strengthen Pakistani capacity to root out terrorists,” President Obama said Thursday in a briefing on the war strategy. “Nevertheless, progress has not come fast enough. So we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with.”
The job of the C.I.A. station chief in
That relationship has often frayed in recent years. American officials believe that ISI officers helped plan the deadly July 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as well as provided support to Lashkar-e-Taiba militants who carried out the Mumbai attacks later that year.
Michael J. Morell, the C.I.A.’s deputy director, met Thursday with Pakistani officials in Islamabad, but American officials said his visit was not the result of the station chief’s case.
The lawsuit filed in
A senior Pakistani official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the Pakistani government “believes that the suit in
“We did not need to retaliate,” he said. “As far as the government of
The legal complaint in
The C.I.A. officer’s name was revealed last month in a news conference by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer who filed the complaint this week.
Soon afterward, the name began appearing on a number of Pakistani Web sites generally believed to have a close association with the ISI. One Web site mentioned the C.I.A. officer on Dec. 14 and asked readers to track down pictures of him.
The New York Times generally does not identify American intelligence operatives working undercover.
Mr. Akbar, the lawyer who brought the case against the C.I.A., said it would continue despite the station chief’s absence. He is representing Kareem Khan, a resident of
A vast majority of C.I.A. drone strikes in the tribal areas have occurred in
“My brother and son were innocent,” Mr. Khan said in a recent interview. “There were no Taliban hiding in my house.”
Western and Pakistani intelligence officials said, however, that the drone attack also killed Haji Omer, a senior commander allied with the Haqqani militant network and Al Qaeda.
Mr. Akbar said that he did not believe that the station chief had been removed from
American officials disagreed. The threats to the station chief “were of such a serious nature that it would be imprudent not to act,” according to a
George Little, a C.I.A. spokesman, would not confirm that the station chief had to leave Pakistan, but did say that “station chiefs routinely encounter major risk as they work to keep America safe,” and that “their security is obviously a top priority for the C.I.A., especially when there’s an imminent threat.”
Meanwhile, the C.I.A. has continued to pummel parts of the tribal areas with missiles. On Thursday, a C.I.A. drone launched a strike in the
Attacks in Khyber are uncommon. Pakistani officials have tried to dissuade the Americans from attacking Khyber and Mohmand Agency, fearing that strikes in those areas could fuel violence in
Discussing the conclusions of the latest review of the Afghan war strategy, Obama administration officials said this week that the
Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington, and Salman Masood from Islamabad,
An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the actions of a lawyer representing a Pakistani man over deaths allegedly connected with a drone attack. The lawyer filed a complaint with police in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs