Leaked US military docs accuse NK of proliferation to al-Quaeda

UPDATE (8/9/2010): The Washington Post hosted a discussion on this topic which was interesting:

Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst who once ran the agency’s bin Laden unit, doubts that the Taliban has bought North Korean’s version of the Stinger.

It doesn’t need them, he says.

“They have the weapons from non-North Korean sources, but why bother using them?” he said. “They are beating the U.S. and NATO with a smaller array of weapons than they needed to drive out 40th [Soviet Red] Army, so why use the stockpiled weapons if we are going to beat ourselves?”

Even if the Taliban has them, says Gary Berntsen, a former CIA officer in Afghanistan, the rebels would risk their lives every time they turned them on.

Instead, he said, “They have, and try to use, dishkas,” Russian heavy anti-aircraft machine guns “that can knock down a helicopter with troops.”

As soon as a spy reports the rebels dragging one forward for an attack, he said, NATO forces’ electronic ears and eyes start looking for it.

“It’s a dangerous game of cat and mouse,” said Bertnsen, who has returned to Afghanistan as a military adviser in recent years but is now the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in New York.

Of course, the report of the North Korea visit by Hekmatyar and bin Laden aide Amin al-Haq (or ul-Haq) might well have been false — or even fabricated to implicate Pyongyang, some sources said.

As one former senior CIA officer put it, “You are right to distrust information on this topic, since every serious intelligence organization in the world, and certainly our own, is probably engaged in disinformation as part of a general psy-ops program.”

Hekmetyar, he pointed out, could “get in touch with the North Koreans without a traceable trip to Pyongyang, like by sending an emissary to [their] embassy in Islamabad or some other Third World country nearby, including Iran.”

When the first reports of the helicopter shoot-down arrived in 2007, word spread in intelligence circles that the culprit was an Iranian-supplied weapon, one person familiar with the incident recalled. It was a time when hardline elements in the Bush administration were pushing for regime change in Iran, he noted.

A military intelligence officer also theorized the report was fabricated, but by different parties, for a different reason.

“My thoughts are that perhaps the intelligence report might have been provided by a HUMINT [human intelligence] source under the hostile control of either Iran or Pakistan, to deliberately mislead us and turn attention away from them as the providers of such weapon systems and blame the North Koreans.”

The silence of the Taliban missiles, in short, remains a mystery.

Except, perhaps, to U.S. military officials in Kabul, who sound grateful.

“There’s been no recent activity suggesting that these weapons are a threat,” an unidentified U.S. official told CNN, “as attested by the volume of our daily air activity and the causes of aircraft incidents, which we report.”

ORIGINAL POST (6/27/2010): According to the Washington Post:

A powerful Afghan insurgent leader and a man identified as Osama Bin Laden’s financial adviser purchased ground-to-air missiles from North Korea in 2005, according to an uncorroborated U.S. intelligence report released by Wikileaks on Sunday.

“On 19 November 2005, Hezb-Islami party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar [sic] and Dr. Amin [no last name], Osama Bin Ladin’s financial advisor, both flew to North Korea departing from Iran,” the undated report said.

“While in North Korea, the two confirmed a deal with the North Korean government for remote controlled rockets for use against American and coalition aircraft,” said the report, whose origin could not be determined from the version published on the Wikileaks site.

Wikileaks had previously said it planned to strip any markings from the documents that might help U.S. law enforcement agencies identify who leaked them.

The intelligence report said, “The shipment of said weapons is expected shortly after the New Year,” meaning the beginning of 2006.

The terms of the deal were not reported.

“The two men stayed in North Korea for two weeks, returning to Helmand, Afghanistan around Dec. 3,” the report said. Hekmatyar proceeded to eastern Afghanistan.

Then, about 18 months later, according a previously undisclosed after-action military report obtained by Wikileaks, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter was downed by a missile “shortly after crossing over the Helmand River.”

“The impact of the missile projected the aft end of the aircraft up as it burst into flames followed immediately by a nose dive into the crash site with no survivors,” the May 30, 2007 report added.

“Based on description of launch, size of round, and impact force of the projectile,” the report said, “it is assessed to be bigger then an RPG [rocket propelled grenade] and possibly a Surface-to-Air Missile.”

It added, “Witness statements from (troops) suggest (it) was struck by a MANPAD and is consistent with MANPAD event described by Arrow 25.”

The name of the alleged Bin Laden financial adviser who went to North Korea, “Dr. Amin,” could not immediately be found in media reports, scholarly papers or books. If such a man exists, he would be the latest of several individuals identified as filling that role over the years.

Nor could any previous reports linking North Korea to the Afghan insurgency be immediately located.

If true, it illustrates the length to which North Korea will go to kick the United States — and generate cash for its sanctions-strapped economy, experts said.

“If they are a paying customer, that would help the North Korean cash flow,” said one of them, Terence J. Roehrig, a professor of national security decision-making at the Naval War College who has written about North Korea. “Arms sales are an important source of income for the regime.”

The United States and and South Korea are conducting joint naval maneuvers in a show of force to North Korea. Pyongyang has vowed to respond with “a sacred war and a powerful nuclear deterrence.”

Read the full story here:
Wikileaks documents: N. Korea sold missiles to al-Qaeda, Taliban
Washington Post
Jeff Stein


Comments are closed.