Pakistan Officials Colluding With Militants? US Presents Evidence

CIA Director Leon Panetta confronts Pakistan's intelligence service head.

June 10, 2011, 5:46 PM

June 10, 2011 — -- The United States' attempts to regain trust in Pakistan's intelligence service suffered a blow in the last few weeks when the CIA gathered evidence that U.S. officials believe shows collusion between militants and Pakistani security officials.

During a visit to Islamabad on Friday, CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted the head of Pakistan's intelligence service, showing him satellite and other intelligence that the CIA believes is evidence of Pakistani security's efforts to help Islamic militants based in Pakistan, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

According to the officials, Panetta revealed overhead imagery that showed two facilities where militants manufactured improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs, which are commonly used by militants fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The "IED factories" were located in North and South Waziristan, where many militants are based.

The CIA passed intelligence in the past several weeks to their Pakistani counterparts, alerting them to the two facilities, but when Pakistani forces raided the facilities, the militants had disappeared.

In his meetings Friday, Panetta conveyed the CIA's belief that the militants had been warned by Pakistani security officials prior to the raids.

Panetta traveled to Islamabad just hours after his Congressional hearing to become secretary of defense, an unannounced trip that U.S. officials publicly described as a way to "discuss ways to improve cooperation." But behind the scenes, Panetta's visit -- expected to be his last as CIA chief -- underscored the lack of trust that U.S. officials continue to have in their Pakistani counterparts.

Since Osama bin Laden's death, senior U.S. officials have demanded that Pakistan prove that it intends to help crack down on terror networks within its own borders with concrete, specific steps.

Today, U.S. and Pakistani officials both admitted that the escape of militants making bombs for use against Americans in Afghanistan was a setback.

Pakistani officials made a rare admission that some kind of collusion was possible.

"There is a suspicion that perhaps there was a tip-off," a senior Pakistani official told the Washington Post. "It's being looked into by our people, and certainly anybody involved will be taken to task."

Pakistani officials contend that they are walking a thin line after the U.S. decided to launch a unilateral raid to kill bin Laden, balancing U.S. demands with a military rank and file that is furious and want their leaders to break with the U.S.

In a sign of just how angry the military is with the U.S., army officials have asked all but "a handful" of U.S. special operations soldiers who have been training Pakistani forces near the Afghan border for the last two years, according to two U.S. officials.

The number was as high as a few dozen in the past.

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