New York Times – Pakistan Spies on Its Diaspora, Spreading Fear

By MARK MAZZETTI, ERIC SCHMITT and CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — F.B.I. agents hunting for Pakistani spies in the United States last year began tracking Mohammed Tasleem, an attaché in the Pakistani Consulate in New York and a clandestine operative of Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence.

Mr. Tasleem, they discovered, had been posing as an F.B.I. agent to extract information from Pakistanis living in the United States and was issuing threats to keep them from speaking openly about Pakistan’s government. His activities were part of what government officials in Washington, along with a range of Pakistani journalists and scholars, say is a systematic ISI campaign to keep tabs on the Pakistani diaspora inside the United States.

The F.B.I. brought Mr. Tasleem’s activities to Leon E. Panetta, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and last April, Mr. Panetta had a tense conversation with Pakistan’s spymaster, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

Within days, Mr. Tasleem was spirited out of the United States — a quiet resolution typical of the spy games among the world’s powers.

But some of the secrets of that hidden world became public last week when two Pakistani-Americans working for a charity that the F.B.I. believes is a front for Pakistan’s spy service were indicted. Only one was arrested; the other is still in Pakistan.

The investigation exposed one part of what American officials say is a broader campaign by the Pakistani spy agency, known as the ISI, to exert influence over lawmakers, stifle public dialogue critical of Pakistan’s military and blunt the influence of India, Pakistan’s longtime adversary.

American officials said that compared with countries like China and Russia — whose spies have long tried to steal American government and business secrets — the ISI’s operations here are less extensive and less sophisticated. And they are certainly far more limited than the C.I.A.’s activities inside Pakistan.

Even so, officials and scholars say the ISI campaign extends to issuing both tacit and overt threats against those who speak critically about the military.

The ISI is widely feared inside Pakistan because of these very tactics. For example, American intelligence officials believe that some ISI operatives ordered the recent killing of a Pakistani journalist, Saleem Shahzad. ….

Read more → The New York Times

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