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May 27, 2011

HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE SUBJECT: AL-QAIDA, THE TALIBAN AND OTHER EXTREMIST GROUPS IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN KERRY


Federal News Service


May 24, 2011 Tuesday


HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE;
SUBJECT: AL-QAIDA, THE TALIBAN AND OTHER EXTREMIST GROUPS IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN;
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN KERRY

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(D-MA);
WITNESSES: PETER BERGEN, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM AT THE NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION; PAUL PILLAR, DIRECTOR OF GRADUATE STUDIES AND FACULTY MEMBER IN THE CENTER FOR PEACE AND SECURITY STUDIES (CPSS) AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY; CHRISTINE FAIR, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT CPSS;
LOCATION: 419 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.



SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING



LENGTH: 12404 words


HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE SUBJECT: AL-QAIDA, THE TALIBAN AND OTHER EXTREMIST GROUPS IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN KERRY

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(D-MA) WITNESSES: PETER BERGEN, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM AT THE NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION; PAUL PILLAR, DIRECTOR OF GRADUATE STUDIES AND FACULTY MEMBER IN THE CENTER FOR PEACE AND SECURITY STUDIES (CPSS) AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY; CHRISTINE FAIR, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT CPSS LOCATION: 419 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C. TIME: 9:00 A.M. EDT DATE: TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011

 

SEN. KERRY

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: This hearing will come to order.

 

Good morning. I appreciate everybody being here.

This is the fifth in a series of hearings on Afghanistan and Pakistan. And today we will examine perhaps one of the most important aspects of the war, which is the enemy. Who are they? What do they think? What are the possibilities of either dividing them or working with some proponents of them? Many, many questions surrounding the various forces that are at large in the western part of Pakistan and in Afghanistan itself.

We’re a little bit under the gun today because we have the joint session with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, and therefore we’ll have to end this hearing punctually in order to get over to the Senate and begin that.

So I ask each of the witnesses, if you would, to sort of summarize. Your full statements will be placed in the record in full as if read in full, and that’ll give us a little more time to be able to ask questions.

In order to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist sanctuary, we clearly need to understand exactly who we’re fighting, what motivates them, what binds them together, and, most importantly, what could drive them apart.

Today we’ll attempt to gain a deeper understanding of insurgent and extremist groups that inhabit the region and better understand the nature of this conflict.

Osama bin Laden

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may have been at the center of it all, but his death does not signal the end of terrorism. Al-Qaida still exists, motivated by the same vitriol and warped ideology that has always been the organization’s trademark. The Abbottabad raid, however, did send an unmistakable message: The United States is committed, capable, and unrelenting in its pursuit of those who seek to do us harm.

 

The extent of bin Laden’s

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operational significance will become clearer when we finish analyzing the material that was removed from his compound. But one aspect of his legacy is already apparent. Even after 9/11, he played a central role in motivating disparate groups to unite against the United States and other western nations.

 

Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where strong connections among extremist groups exist at both the organizational and individual levels. Terrorists and insurgents work together against coalition forces and to indiscriminately murder innocent civilians, aid workers, civil servants and children.

Their motivation, which should offend all faiths, is to destabilize the region and to establish a safe haven where they can plot attacks against the United States and our allies. People ask why we are still in Afghanistan. This is the reason.

Al-Qaida and the Taliban are names well-known to Americans. But other groups are actively plotting, actively killing every day. The Haqqani network has expanded its reach beyond North Waziristan in Pakistan and provides sanctuary to al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban. The Tehrik-i-Taliban, otherwise known as the Pakistani Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi systematically work to undermine the government of Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad continue to launch attacks that risk sparking war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

So I’d like to take one minute, if I can, just to highlight the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taiba. This group, responsible for the vicious Mumbai attacks of 2008, is capable of not only destabilizing the region with another attack against India, but through its extensive alumni organization and network of training camps throughout Pakistan, it could threaten the United States homeland.

We also face threats from individuals seeking to fulfill their own personal objectives. Najibullah Zazi, a legal U.S. resident born in Afghanistan, conspired to bomb New York City’s subway system in 2009 after he received training in Pakistan. Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb last year in Times Square, was linked to the Pakistan Taliban.

Unfortunately, these are just two examples of a new generation of would-be terrorists who have grown up in the shadow of extremist militancy. These lone wolves are as potentially dangerous as any one organization.

Now, even though these groups and individuals have overlapping interests, fissures do exist among them. They are separated by ideologies, nationalities, and tribal or sectarian backgrounds. Our focus now ought to be less on who will succeed bin Laden

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and more on how to exploit those fissures and dismantle the networks that he spawned.

 

So this is a critical moment in the war in Afghanistan. Our security gains in the south — and they are real — coupled with bin Laden’s

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death, have, at least in my judgment, and certainly in the judgment of the people I talked with in Afghanistan last weekend, have created some political space.

 

So it’s important that we seize that opportunity. Middle- and low-level Taliban fighters, many of them want to come in from the battlefield. We need to work with the Afghan government in order to make sure that those who wish to lay down their arms can, in fact, do so. And as reconcilable elements of the insurgency enter into the peace process — and I think it’s possible for some of them to do that — we need to ensure that Afghanis are able to avert both Taliban rule and a return to civil war. That is a delicate balancing act.

Of course, we can’t forget the impact that Pakistan has on the future of Afghanistan. I’ve many times said that Pakistan is the key to pacifying — pacifying is the wrong word — the key to diminishing the insurgency in Afghanistan itself.

And what happens in Pakistan may do more to determine the rate at which American troops can withdraw, the rate at which the Afghan troops can stand up and the degree to which governance can be improved in Afghanistan.

We also need to remember that terrorists and insurgents are continuing to exploit the 1,200-mile porous border that separates the two countries. And we will have to work very closely with Pakistan in order to deal with the problem of the sanctuaries as purveyors of violence in both nations.

The good news here is that there is common ground between the vital national interests of Pakistan and the United States, even at the same time as there are some divergent interests. It will take adroit and persistent diplomacy to convince the Pakistani military leaders that the real threat to their sovereignty comes not from its eastern border and not from across the Atlantic, but it comes from violent extremists in their own country.

We obviously have a lot to discuss here today. And to help us do this, we have Peter Bergen, currently the director of the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation and an expert on al-Qaida and bin Laden;

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Dr. Paul Pillar, a 28-year veteran of the CIA and director of graduate studies and faculty member at Georgetown University; and Dr. Christine Fair, also a professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies and an expert on extremist groups in South Asia.

 

I thank each of you for coming in this morning.

Senator Lugar.

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing. I note it’s the fifth in a series we have enjoyed on Afghanistan and Pakistan. I join you especially in welcoming our distinguished witnesses.

Like you, I am hopeful that as we continue our series, we will hear soon from the Defense Department and the State Department in public session about their plans in the region going forward.

At this hearing we’re attempting to define the nature of the terrorist threat that confronts Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this is important, because we’re devoting enormous resources to these two countries, with the primary goal of fighting terrorism.

Both Afghanistan and Pakistan affect clear U.S. national-security interests. In previous hearings, however, I’ve contended that the resources being spent in Afghanistan are far greater than the current threat warrants. And the United States has almost 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, with another 32,000 deployed in the region to support the mission.

Now, according to the Congressional Research Service, there were an estimated 87,000 military contract personnel in Afghanistan at the beginning of this year, and more than 1,000 civilian personnel are assigned to the United States embassy.

The U.S. effort in Afghanistan is costing approximately $120 billion a year. The question before us is whether Afghanistan is strategically important enough to justify the lives and massive resources that we are spending there, especially given that few terrorists in Afghanistan have global designs or reach the extent that our purpose is to confront the global terrorist threat.

Perhaps we should be refocusing our resources on Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, parts of North Africa and other locations. Our government should be working on an approach that allows us to achieve the most important national-security goals in Afghanistan, especially preventing the Taliban from taking over the government and preventing Afghan territory from being used as a terrorist safe haven, but at far less expense.

The Pakistan side of the border has a fundamentally different dynamic. Despite the death of Osama bin Laden,

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al-Qaida and other terrorist groups maintain a strong presence. And there’s no question that the threat of these groups, combined with worries about state collapse, a Pakistani war with India, the safety of the Pakistan nuclear arsenal and Pakistan’s intersection with other states in the region, make it a strategically vital country, worth the cost of engagement.

 

The question is how the United States navigates the contradictions inherent in dealing with the Pakistani government and Pakistani society to ensure that our resources and diplomacy advance our objectives efficiently.

The importance of getting this right is reinforced by the utterances of Osama bin Laden,

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who called the terrorist acquisition of nuclear and chemical weapons, and I quote, "a religious duty," end of quote. This effort has not died with bin Laden.

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Al-Qaida and its affiliates have so far been unsuccessful in obtaining nuclear material or a nuclear device, experts believe. But many of our top military and intelligence officials continue to regard the terrorist acquisition of a nuclear weapon as the biggest threat to United States national security.

 

Pakistan’s military leaders have given repeated assurances that the country’s rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal is well-secured. But we also know that the A.Q. Khan network was enabled by members of Pakistan’s nuclear establishment. And further, if Pakistan succumbs to violent extremism or economic collapse, confidence in the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and technology could erode rapidly. This underscores the importance to U.S. national security of a stable Pakistan and of continued engagement on terrorism and nuclear-security issues.

I look forward with you, Mr. Chairman, to the recommendations of our expert witnesses today.

Thank you.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thanks, Senator Lugar; appreciate it very much.

 

We will start with Mr. Bergen, then Mr. Pillar and Ms. Fair.

Thank you, Dr. — Mr. Bergen.

MR. BERGEN: Thank you, Senator Kerry. Thank you, Senator Lugar.

In my five minutes, I wanted to focus on the issue of Taliban reconciliation.

Senator , Kerry talked about the political space that has opened up for the possibility of reconciliation. Obviously, the death of Osama bin Laden

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provides an enormous opportunity for the Taliban, one which I think, if they don’t take, suggests that they are unlikely to take such an opportunity again.

 

As you know, Osama bin Laden

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swore an oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar, a religious oath, calling him the commander of the faithful. Now, Mullah Omar is now in the position to say that was a personal arrangement; I don’t really need an oath of allegiance from al-Qaida anymore. And let’s see if he takes this opportunity because I see several problems with the idea of reconciliation and some opportunities.

 

And the problems briefly are the moderate Taliban has already reconciled. You know their names: Mullah Zaeef, Muttawakil, the foreign minister. They’ve had 10 years to reconcile. And the people who aren’t reconciled are pretty hard core.

Secondly, they’ve had 10 years to reject —

SEN. KERRY

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: How many hard core do you think there are?

 

MR. BERGEN: How many hard core Taliban?

SEN. KERRY

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: When you say "hard core," what are you talking about?

 

MR. BERGEN: Well, I mean, people who generally believe in the idea that Mullah Omar is the leader of all Muslims; that al-Qaida is a good thing. I mean, they’ve had 10 years to reject al-Qaida. As you know, al-Qaida is embedded with the Haqqani Network right now.

We’ve also — the problem, you know, the Taliban is not the Taliban, it is the Taliban. So any negotiation with be with several groups. We’ve seen the peace deals with the Taliban on the other side of the board in Pakistan, a border, by the way, that they don’t recognize. They’ve reneged on every peace agreement they’ve been involved in. They had a peace agreement in Waziristan in ’05 and in ’06 and in Swat in ’09. They took those peace agreements as opportunities to essentially regroup and take over more territory.

And we’ve run a controlled experiment of what life under the Taliban looks like very recently in Pakistan. In Swat, they beheaded the policemen. They burned down the girl’s schools, and they imposed a reign of terror. And that’s the Taliban that I think is the hard core that hasn’t really changed their spots.

We also saw with the arrest of Mullah Baradar last year in Pakistan effectively, arguably, the number two of the Taliban, that the Pakistanis have a veto over these negotiations. So any negotiation involves them, and that’s not the end of the world, but it is a factor that we need to consider going forward.

The Northern Alliance also has an effective veto. I mean, Dr. Abdullah — he is well known to both the chairman and the ranking member — isn’t going to give up everything he’s fought for if there are significant, you know, territorial concessions or concessions of principle to the Taliban. And, of course, he is likely to be the next president of Afghanistan in 2014. So the Northern Alliance have a veto as well as the Pakistanis over these negotiations.

The two of the negotiations that have gone on in Mecca and the Maldives have amounted to nothing. I mean, one Afghan official joked to me the reason the people went to the Maldives for the negotiations was simply they wanted a vacation. But, you know, there was nothing really serious coming out of this.

And in the case of Mullah Mansoor, the supposed number two in the Taliban who turned out to be quite a shopkeeper or posing as the leader of the Taliban — in any case, we know really very little of what’s going on inside this movement. And so lack of knowledge is not helpful when you’re negotiating.

And finally and most importantly, in terms of the problems with negotiating with the Taliban, what do the Taliban really want? Have they described what the future of Afghanistan they want, a future that involves democracy, that involves elections, that involves women going to work, that involves girls being educated, that involves rights for ethnic minorities? I don’t think so. And these are all very, very big problems.

Then let me now turn to opportunities once I’ve — now that I’ve described the problems. The opportunities, of course, are any kinds of negotiations help gather information about the opposition. We can create splits in the movement, Hizb-i-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s group may do a deal. They’re the sort of lowest-hanging fruit. And once you do a deal with one aspect of the insurgency, you create the possibility of further splits.

Americans are tired of the war. As the chairman alluded to and as Senator Lugar alluded to, you know, the Taliban have taken a lot of hits in southern Afghanistan. And in any negotiation, the recognition of a mutually hurting stalemate is the way — is sort of a sine qua non.

The founding of the high peace council, yes, it has problems, but it’s brought into the tent a number of spoilers from the Northern Alliance so that they’re involved in any potential deal is a good thing. Recent reports in The Washington Post and Der Spiegel that negotiations are proceeding in Germany. Third-party sponsors of negotiations might include Turkey and Qatar. These are good things.

And, finally and most importantly, on the opportunities, three- quarters of Afghans favor a political solution, and this is very important. So the political context is there. That number goes up to 94 percent in Kandahar. So an overwhelming number of Afghans want negotiations.

And, finally, on a personal note, I’ve been visiting Afghanistan since the civil war in 1993, and I spent a fair amount of time under the Taliban and have a pretty good sense of what life was actually like there. And I think it’s going to be — it’s going to be quite hard for this group — I think there’s a classic problem in intelligence circles called mirror imaging, which you’re both familiar with, which is the idea that other people will behave like us.

And, in fact, the hard core of the Taliban are religious fanatics. When Mullah Omar awarded himself the title of commander of the faithful, he’s not just the commander of the Taliban, he is the commander of all Muslims. And the history of negotiations with religious fanatics, particularly ones with delusions of grandeur, is not encouraging.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thank you very much.

 

Mr. Pillar?

MR. PILLAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan region has understandably been linked in American minds with extremism and terrorism for quite some time, but this link is not based on the inherent qualities of the region or the conflicts that bedevil it. There is no intrinsic connection between Afghanistan and international terrorism. In fact, Afghan nationals have been conspicuously rare in the ranks of international terrorists.

Najibullah Zazi, whom you mentioned in your opening statement, Mr. Chairman, is a rare exception. But even he left Afghanistan at age 7 and lived in the United States since he was 14.

What we know today is the Afghan Taliban constitute a highly insular, inward-looking group that is concerned overwhelmingly with the political and social order of Afghanistan, the leadership, that is. It concerns itself with the United States insofar as the U.S. interferes with its plans for that political and social order.

The motives of the rank and file who have taken up arms under the Taliban label are at least as locally focused as those of the leadership, and probably hardly any of them have any perspectives that reach beyond Afghanistan’s borders. In fact, the key point, in other words, is that the Afghan Taliban is not an international terrorist group. `

The connection between Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida is an aspect largely of 1990s-era history. Back then, before 9/11, bin Laden

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provided material and manpower assistance to the Taliban as it waged its civil war against the Northern Alliance. And, of course, the Taliban provided hospitality to bin Laden

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in return. It was largely a marriage of convenience even though they both had radical, although, by no means, identical ideologies.

 

As for any prospect of the Taliban and al-Qaida re-establishing anything like that marriage that they had back in the 1990s, while Taliban leaders are acutely aware that the biggest setback their movement ever suffered, their being swept from power in the opening weeks of Operation Enduring Freedom, was a direct result of an operation conducted by al-Qaida, and they have no incentive to do anything to facilitate a repeat of that experience.

Besides, both the Taliban and al-Qaida are well aware of the fact that the standards for the use of military force — U.S. military force — in Afghanistan have changed drastically since pre-9/11 days. Unlike back then, the establishment of anything remotely resembling al-Qaida’s earlier presence in Afghanistan would become a target for unrestricted use of U.S. air power, and that would be true whether or not the United States was conducting a counterinsurgency on the ground.

I agree with Peter that bin Laden’s

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death does affect the calculations of the Taliban’s leadership mainly for the reasons that Peter mentioned that the previous gratitude of Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership was more to bin Laden

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personally than to the al- Qaida group.

 

I would just add that probably also entering the Taliban leaders’ calculations are the implication of the raid against bin Laden

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for what the U.S. is able and willing to do to hit targets important to it, even targets nestled deep inside Pakistan. And it can’t have escaped the Taliban leaders’ notice with regard to what that means for what we might do in Quetta or elsewhere.

 

Finally, a word about what the successful U.S. operation against bin Laden

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indicates regarding the role of U.S. military forces in counterterrorism, including what this means for collecting the necessary intelligence. The raid at Abbottabad deep inside Pakistan illustrated that U.S. military boots on the ground are not necessary for even the precise type of intelligence required for such an operation.

 

The same point has been of course repeatedly demonstrated by the drone strikes in the northwest.

Collection of intelligence is certainly an important part of counterinsurgency, but it is almost all intelligence pertinent to the counterinsurgency itself rather than intelligence relating to terrorism that would hit the United States elsewhere. The intelligence work that reportedly underlay the successful operation was typical of the work aimed at terrorist targets. It involved piecing together fragments of information from a variety of technical and human sources and following up leads through intelligence and law enforcement resources.

Interrogation of captured detainees is often part of that mix but the most important detainees, such as 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have been captured not on a battlefield in the course of an insurgency but instead as a result of themselves having been the target of this kind of painstaking multisource intelligence work.

Clearly the raid demonstrated the usefulness of nearby military assets, but those are not the large forces involved in a counterinsurgency but rather drone bases, bases for launching the kind of raid that took place at Abbottabad and that is something far different. Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thank you very much, Dr. Pillar. Dr. Fair.

 

MS. FAIR: Thank you, Senator Kerry, Senator Lugar and esteemed colleagues, for the opportunity to discuss Pakistan’s militant landscape, with particular focus upon Lashkar-e-Taiba, as I was requested to do. As you know, Pakistan has raised and nurtured a number of militant groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba being just one, to operate in India and in Afghanistan. These are distinct from the Pakistani Taliban, which has been ravaging the state, although part of the Pakistan Taliban does draw personnel from rebel erstwhile proxies.

Rather than speaking of militants generally, I focus upon the differences across these groups to understand why Pakistan will not abandon Lashkar-e-Taiba in particular. To state at the outset, none of the groups that I will discuss will be significantly and adversely affected by Osama bin Laden’s

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demise. When we disaggregate this complex militant market, we see that these Islamist militant groups differ significantly in their theological orientations, and this, as I am going to argue, is important.

 

Al-Qaida in Pakistan and elsewhere is Wahabi. The Afghan Taliban are Deobandi. The Kashmiri groups actually draw from a number of traditions, including Hezbol mujahedeen, which is tamakaswani (ph 2:46), a number of Deobandi groups, such as Jaisha Mohammad, — (inaudibl) — and so forth, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is Ahle-Hadith in its orientation. In addition there are sectarian groups. This is almost exclusively Deobandi, who are targeting Shi’a in Pakistan. They include — Sipah-a Sahaba-e Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

In addition, these groups kill other Sunni Muslims such as Sufis or Barelvis. They also attack Ahmediyyas and non-Muslims. And then finally, there is the Tehreek-e Talibani Pakistan, or the Pakistani Taliban. They are also Deobandi. The Pakistan-based Deobandi groups, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are important, components of this organization. It’s important to note that they are not the same as the Afghan Taliban, although at the level of specific commanders there is some overlap.

There are a number of refiners in this gross aggregation, which I provide in my written statement and I have a table summarizing the same. To understand LeT’s utility to Pakistan, we need to understand how it differs from these other groups. First, all of the groups that have split and rebels under the banner of the Pakistan Taliban are Deobandi. These groups are the closest to al-Qaida. Lashkar-e-Taiba is not Deobandi. It has remained loyal to the state. It has never attacked Pakistani targets or any international entity within the state. It exclusively operates outside of Pakistan.

And then finally, where the state has taken on some militant groups in Pakistan — that is to say part of the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida, it has only marginally and cosmetically acted against Lashkar-e-Taiba, and I detail the various ways in which the state continues to support Lashkar-e-Taiba in my written statement.

In contrast to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, these Deobandi groups will kill anyone that they deem to be at odds with them and their interpretation of Islam. As I explain in my written statement, there is a specific theological term for this and these individuals are called menafakeem (ph). It sounds technical but it’s important.

Understanding this anti-menafakeem violence perpetrated by the Deobandi group is critical to understanding why Pakistan will not abandon Lashkar-e-Taiba. Per the group’s manifesto, which I have analyzed and translated from the Urdu, Lashkar-e-Taiba is nonsectarian and it is committed to Pakistan’s integrity. It denounces killing Pakistanis of different confessions and it argues that jihadis should focus on the external enemies, or Kafirs, i.e., us, India, and so forth.

Lashkar-e-Taiba draws most of its recruits from Deobandis and other sectarian groups. This allows them to indoctrinate them into this worldview, and since it deploys relatively few people to Kashmir, this is an important part of its domestic outreach mission. But Lashkar-e-Taiba will become more important to the Pakistani state as its internal security continues to degrade at the hands of these Deobandi groups.

What then are the options for the United States? Containing Pakistan is not feasible and attempting to do so isn’t desirable. Pakistan simply has too many asymmetric retaliatory options. The U.S. instead should work to contain the threats of these Pakistani groups, and I lay out a number of proposals in my written statement. Mostly they focus on immigration, Treasury, working with the U.N. and other partners on intelligence operations, law enforcement, and drawing across the different combatant commands where LeT operations, such as EUCOM, CENTCOM and PACOM.

The goals of this should be to deny these groups freedom of operation in the United States and elsewhere. Admittedly this will be difficult to do as long as the United States retains a large coin footprint in Afghanistan. It will be nearly impossible to do if the United States pulls out of Pakistan.

Finally, because of Pakistani and other diaspora communities, as well as converts to Islam remain important sources of financial support to LeT and other groups, as well as recruits for international operations, the United States and others must forge sensitive policies that consider the diaspora as an important source of insecurity, while ensuring that innocent persons are not singled out without cause. Thank you.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thank you very much, Dr. Fair. I have to tell you, I was reading your testimony and my head is kind of spinning.

 

MS. FAIR: (Chuckles.) Sorry about that.

SEN. KERRY

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: No, it’s just — it’s really fascinating and it’s incredibly important in trying to understand what our options are. And I was particularly struck by your conclusion that — you say the implications of my argument is that a resolution of the Indo-Pakistan dispute, however improbable in the first instance, will not be sufficient to motivate Pakistan to strategically abandon LeT.

 

Where does that leave us? I mean, if that’s true — first of all, my instinct was as I listened to this soup of different mixes of variants on one Islamic or sectarian or cultural component, your instant reaction is sort of to say, wow, let’s not get in the middle of that. And there’s not a lot we can do about it.

So are we kind of — are we chasing ghosts here in this negotiating process because of that? Or is there room here to believe that there’s a sufficient cohesive entity that could have enough of an impact that you could buy enough space to actually create some sort of, quote, "agreement," which allows American forces to reduce and diminish our presence?

Can each of you kind of tackle that? And I’d like your reactions, both of you, to this description of the multiplicity of these different beliefs and components. Can they be brought together under one half of one interest, or are we just, you know — are the Pakistanis going to have to kind of struggle with this and try to resolve it? Do tou want to react first, and then we’ll come back toy our comment on the Lashkar-e-Taiba? Peter, what’s your reaction to that?

MR. BERGEN: Senator Kerry, you know, if we had this conversation four years ago, there were some things that have happened in Pakistan that would have been pretty unpredictable. I mean, a major operation in southern Waziristan in 2009 going after the Taliban involving 30,000 men, several months of air operations, a really serious military operation, and also serious military operation in SWAT. They weren’t done to American counterinsurgency standards but they were done.

So the point is, the Pakistani state is willing to do certain things and, as Chris pointed out, they’re particularly willing to do things against organizations that are damaging them. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult for the Pakistanis to abandon the Haqqani network, although perhaps not impossible. At the end of the day —

SEN. KERRY

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: Impossible for them to reach some kind of an understanding with the Haqqani network? They bring them into the process. Be part of the negotiation with Taliban. Is that easier?

 

MR. BERGEN: Yeah, I’d say — to me, that would be a very rational thing for them to do, at the end of the day. And they are capable of doing that, and that would be an enormous way forward, because while Dr. Pillar is correct that the Afghan Taliban doesn’t have much of a relationship with the — with al-Qaida in the sense of the Mullah Omar Taliban. As you know, they — al-Qaida’s being protected by the Haqqani network. So the biggest key to moving forward is getting the Haqqani network to basically change sides, and I don’t think that’s out of the question.

But if I’m General Kayani, my main concern remains India. And as long as he sees India — Afghanistan as a source of Indian strength, he may not want to take the Haqqani card off the table.

That’s not a very good answer to the question, but that’s my answer.

SEN. KERRY

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: Dr. Pillar, would you respond also?

 

MR. PILLAR: Pakistan’s basic interests as they see them are fairly constant, but the — they’re very constant — but the strategy and tactics, and we’re really talking more about strategy and tactics here when we talk about relationships with the groups, are quite changeable. And I think they’re changeable under circumstances short of what we’d all like to see, which is some kind of resolution of the Kashmir problem and the conflict between India and Pakistan.

If Pakistan can be part of a process in Afghanistan in which they see their interests vis-a-vis India and all their concerns about Afghanistan being their so-called strategic back yard sufficiently satisfied, then I think there is more changeability with regard to their relationships with any of these groups, be it the Haqqani group or LT or anyone else.

SEN. KERRY

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: And do you agree with Dr. Fair’s conclusion that even if there were an India-Pakistan rapprochement and resolution of that east border issue, that Lashkar-e-Taiba would continue to present —

 

MR. PILLAR: I am somewhat more optimistic than Dr. Fair about what the implications would be if we could see substantial progress in the Indo-Pakistani equation. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of an endless, vicious circle in that groups like LT and other groups have their own incentives to disrupt a peace process and a rapprochement between India and Pakistan, and I think that’s the main danger we face as the two sides have tentatively tried to get that process back on track.

SEN. KERRY

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: Mm-hmm. (In acknowledgement.) What —

 

Dr. Fair, I didn’t give you a chance to answer the question I originally asked you, which is sort of why it would not be sufficient. You heard Dr. Pillar suggest that, you know, perhaps it would have an impact on Lashkar-e-Taiba. Why do you feel it wouldn’t?

MS. FAIR: Well, for a number of reasons. One, I mean, I’ve really spent a lot of time investigating their literature. I also have at the Combating Terrorism Center an 810-size database of Lashkar-e-Taiba activists, and I’ve been following this group since 1995. I speak — or, I’ve spent a lot of time in the region. So my assessment — I can see that if Lashkar-e-Taiba only had external utility, then resolving the Indo-Pakistani security competition would be necessary, probably insufficient, to put that group down.

But when you understand the domestic politics of the organization, when you understand that Lashkar-e-Taiba is a buffer and a bulwark to the Deobandi groups ravaging the state, you realize that it also has domestic utility. And I believe I’m the first analyst to have gone through their materials in this way to discern this domestic utility. So, I mean, that’s what I bring to the understanding of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

If you’d like to know what are my thoughts about where that leaves us and what his options are, I’m happy to elaborate upon that.

SEN. KERRY

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: I would. I would, indeed.

 

MS. FAIR: Well, the — I mean, the first thing is not only are the groups themselves a spoiler, but the Pakistan Army is itself a spoiler, right? If it didn’t have the security competition with India it wouldn’t justify its enormous claim to the resources in Pakistan and its central claim to being the only institution to protect the place would be substantially diminished. So the Pakistan Army is a huge spoiler, and we have to keep that in mind.

But we are incredibly constrained. There are potentially opportunities to work with the Pakistanis where we have joint threats — al-Qaida, the Pakistan Taliban — but for a number of reasons over the last year, they want us out. And so our space — (inaudible) — is very, very low.

And in particular they want us out because their assets — Haqqani, Lashkar-e-Taiba — are our enemies. And they know that partly we’re there to deal with those threats, and they want us out. So we’re very constrained, I would say even —

SEN. KERRY

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: But when you say they want us out, is that because they perceive us as contributing to their problem, or —

 

MS. FAIR: There are multiple answers to that. First, they know we’re there because we want to take out their assets. Would we not like to take out Haqqani with a drone? Would we not like to have cells going after Lashkar-e-Taiba? They know that’s what we’re up to, and they don’t want that to happen.

That being said, their interpretation of why they’re having an insurgency is not proxies gone bad, or blowback. They see that they have this internal militancy because we have forced them to turn against these groups in a moderated jihad strategy, making them rebel against the state.

So no matter what Kayani says — I’ve, you know, spent a lot of time with Pakistani military officers, particularly below the rank of lieutenant colonel, so where you have a different object — they want us out of Afghanistan. Because when this happens they will see, in their view, that the alignment between the military, the mullah and the militant groups will come back into alignment and those groups will go back to business fighting in India and Afghanistan.

SEN. KERRY

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: But if you accept that — and I’m not arguing with you; I think that — I think, as I said the other day when I came back from there, there are really divergent interests, to some degree. But if you make the divergency of interests work for you, there’s a rationale for why they should want to contain Haqqani and bring him in to the fold with respect the peace process, because that’s the way you get us out of Afghanistan faster.

 

MS. FAIR: Oh — I mean, so I’m not — you know, I wasn’t asked to speak on the impact of reconciliation in —

SEN. KERRY

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: Well, what about the reality of that?

 

MS. FAIR: But I think — here’s the thing about Pakistan. We talk about the Taliban with some kind of historical continuity. That’s not a proper approach, right? We’ve been eliminating a lot of the mid-level commanders and they’re replacing them.

The Pakistanis know that many of these commanders that have come in to fill those empty slots are not only much more international- focused, they’re no longer simply focused on Afghanistan. They’re much more ideological, and they also hate the ISI. I mean, they rightly understand that the ISI is trying to use them to protect Pakistan’s interests, so Pakistan actually has a much more sophisticated approach to these groups than we perhaps appreciate, or we do ourselves.

They’re trying to deal with the Quetta Shura; they’re putting pressure on their families to get them to toe the line. But they’re really trying to find a way of dealing with these commanders that are no longer within their ambit.

So Pakistan has a multi-pronged strategy of dealing with the splintering that’s taken place in the Taliban. And they have the advantage of geography; they have the advantage of language skills and, you know, long-standing ISI assets who’ve been working with these guys.

SEN. KERRY

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: Well, there’s more to follow up on that, but it’s really interesting. And I don’t disagree with you that they have obviously a better sense of their own interests and strategy than we sometimes give them credit for, and that, I think, is a reality there and also in Afghanistan.

 

Senator Lugar?

SEN. LUGAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Dr. Pillar — and I don’t want to oversimplify your analysis, but I made notes that (do/you would ?) suggest the Taliban will continue in Afghanistan in one form or another. The Taliban will continue to not want al-Qaida in Afghanistan, because this has created the United States’ coming to begin with, to clean up the camps that had the Taliban — or the al-Qaida and the attack on us.

But in any event, after they’ve kept the al-Qaida out and the Taliban continue to make their way in the government of Afghanistan, they would not be a strategic threat to the United States. They may have a miserable existence in Afghanistan, but not an exterior threat to us.

Now, next door, however, with regard to Pakistan, I was — (inaudible) — making notes that it’s unlikely that we’re going to be able, at least the United States, to help reorganize Pakistan into a situation that is, we believe, good for the Pakistanis and good for us — that all of you, including Dr. Fair, have gone through the crosscurrents of people that are going to be there, likely to stay there.

We’ve touched briefly upon the fact that miserable as that may be for the Pakistanis and for India and maybe for the neighbors, the strategic threat to the United States still is not apparent except mention is made from time to time of the nuclear establishment in Pakistan. And that an unstable state or — at least some way in which terrorists gain access — whoever might be their nationality, to fissile material or other aspects of that, could pose a strategic danger to the United States.

I don’t want to oversimplify the problem, but it seems to me that I started with the thought that a lot of our debates outside of this committee is why we have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and why they continue and why some predict they will continue for a long time and we will be retraining Afghans and so forth.

Is this, in general, because of humanitarian impulses on our part to — the thought that, somehow or other, by sort of staying the course, much as we tried to do in Iraq, that this is a humane service and it’s worth the troops and the money? Or how do you respond to those just normal fora in the United States to say, you know, what goes on here and why does it continue?

MR. PILLAR: Senator Lugar, I agree very much with the perspective that you offered in terms of Pakistan versus Afghanistan. And in direct response to your question, I think it partly is the humanitarian consideration. There is a lot of questions raised about the status of women, about human rights issues. And I think it’s partly just because we haven’t found an appropriate off ramp.

You know, in my judgment, Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001 was a just and appropriate response to the terrorist outrage of 9/11. It was a military action aimed directly at the group that did that and the movement that, at the time, was hosting it. You know, we accomplished the objective in the opening weeks and months of Operation Enduring Freedom of ousting the Taliban from its position of power over three-fourths of Afghanistan and rousting Taliban from its then safe haven. And then we just had a hard time finding the off ramp.

SEN. LUGAR: That’s what I thought.

MR. PILLAR: I think, in these discussions of Afghanistan versus Pakistan and much of the discourse in this country, we’ve tended to lose sight of what is the end and what is the means. I agree with everything you said, sir, about the vulnerabilities and concerns in Pakistan, particularly with regard to nuclear weapons.

But if we were to zero base this problem, we would not address it by conducting a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.

SEN. LUGAR: All right. Let’s say we were to address the Pakistan threat and we perceive it to the stealing or the appropriating of nuclear elements. Is there a way of handling this without boots on the ground term tens of thousands? In other words, some have suggested what we ought to be doing is a much more concentrated intelligence operation that would touch upon Pakistan, but likewise, a good number of other situations in the Middle East or in Africa.

Do any of you have a response as to why we should be involved in Pakistan?

Dr. Fair?

MS. FAIR: Well, frankly, if it weren’t for those nuclear weapons, Pakistan would have been sorted out with far less complexity. It’s number their nuclear umbrella that they use their militant groups safely. So this is the crux of the problem.

I do fear that we misframed the nuclear scenario. So for example, if their nuclear establishment could be infiltrated undesirably by Islamist elements, others could presumably do so, the Indians, us, Mossad (ph). So when it comes to undesirable infiltration, our incentives are quite aligned.

There are periods when those weapons become much more vulnerable. So during their peacetime deployments, the warheads aren’t assembled and they’re not mated in the delivery systems. But as the conflict with India begins to escalate, they begin mating the warheads, and they begin mating them and forward-deploying them with their delivery assets, and that’s when command and control becomes very murky.

So if I were a terrorist and I understand how the Pakistani security establishment deals with nuclear weapons, that’s when I would try to do something nefarious. The other issue that I am worried about is, just as Aslam Beg in the 1980s deliberately tried to proliferate to Iran to undermine our security interests, we cannot rule out the possibility that the Pakistani state would deliberately do that. Now, I’m not saying it’s immensely probable, but things are pretty tough. And Aslam Beg, you know, certainly did that to undermine us strategically.

So I would, you know, suggest that we think about the nuclear problem, you know, in a much more wider capacity. And this requires different kinds of intelligence. So for example, if there were to be a state transfer that, again, would be another opportunity where nefarious elements could interdict them. So this does require us to be on the ground, which is why when I hear people talking about, you know, pulling out of Pakistan, I’m very apprehensive because we can’t monitor the situation without assets in Pakistan.

SEN. LUGAR: Do you any of you have any comment on the Pakistanis working with the Chinese recently and the thought of a base — a naval base for the Chinese in Pakistan? Is that something, a reaction against, you know, the Osama bin Laden

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killing, or is this a more fundamental situation that they’re going to hook up with the Chinese?

 

Yes, Dr. Fair?

MS. FAIR: Well, actually, the base at Gwadar has been built with Chinese assistance as is well known. And there’s been a lot of speculation the nature of that port. It’s a deep-water port.

We also have to understand the context of what China wants. Right? China wants to have access to move its dangerous goods in and out of and through Pakistan. But it also should be seen in context of India’s security competition with Pakistan. I’m not sure if you’re aware of the Indian port that’s being built in Iran in Chabahar which is just a few hundred kilometers along the Makran Coast of Gwadar.

So there is an element of this which cues off of the Indo- Pakistan security competition.

SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thank you very much.

 

Senator Cardin?

SENATOR BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I thank our three witnesses.

Clearly, the United States has a great interest in Pakistan. So Dr. Fair, I don’t think any of us are suggesting that can we ignore Pakistan, but there are mixed signals here that are very, very troubling and that the United States needs to be able to have alternatives for carrying out its foreign policy in that region. And I know that’s part of our strategies.

Let me sort of underscore this. Pakistan is critically important for many reasons, not the least of which its nuclear capacity and the current safe haven for terrorist organizations and the importance of staging for us in Afghanistan. But it’s also clear that LT is a terrorist organization; the United States has a pretty — should have a pretty clear position as to how we deal with terrorist organizations. And we should leave no ambiguity.

Pakistan has to choose sides on which side it is on the war against terror, and they’re giving mixed signals today. It’s not just the bin Laden

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circumstances. But yesterday in Chicago at the David Headley trial, a confessed Pakistan-American terrorist, testified that ISI and LT coordinated with each other, and ISI provided assistance to Lashkar financial, military and moral support.

 

Now, I don’t know how the United States can just ignore this. It seems to me that we need to be able to confront Pakistan’s support for terrorist organizations. And U.S. taxpayers are providing support to Pakistan today. And that’s an issue that will come to the attention of the United States Congress.

So it’s going hit a crisis point if we cannot get Pakistan to support the war against terror, including terrorist organizations within their own state.

So what are our choices? What do we do about that? Dr. Fair?

MS. FAIR: First of all, we need to take some responsibility. Pakistan has never given us anything but these signals. Right? We dismissed Lashkar-e-Taiba for years as India’s threat. Pakistan never turned its back on Laskhar-e-Taiba. Pakistan did a U-turn on its U- turn with the Taliban very early in the conflict, and there were no consequences because we had other preoccupations that did not allow us to have the fortitude that we should have had to be more forthright with Pakistan.

I’ll point out that, to my utter astonishment — well, I wasn’t astonished, I was disappointed — that the secretary of State certified that Pakistan was in compliance with the conditionalities on security assistance vis-a-vis Kerry-Lugar-Berman. This was done on March 18th despite full knowledge that we were engaging in an operation to get bin Laden,

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despite full knowledge that the Pakistani state has continued to harbor and assist Laskhar-e-Taiba among other elements.

 

So we have to, I think, be honest and self-reflective. Why is it that we have been unable to actually enforce what already is in our own legislation? The reality is, however, we don’t have a lot of options with Lashkar-e-Taiba. We know from the Raymond Davis affair it’s very difficult to operate in that terrain. The ISI knows what we’re up to, and they’re seeking to undermine it.

I do think we have options to contain it. Let me put something somewhat obnoxious on the table. Lashkar-e-Taiba’s largest theater of operations for its support is in Pacific Command where we actually have a lot of assets and we have a lot of partners. We should be aggressively targeting Laskhar-e-Taiba’s assets in the Pacific Command, in Europe and North America. They can’t do what they do without outside support.

And so while it may sound somewhat disappointing that we don’t have more aggressive options, I think we have more options than we believe.

They can’t do what they do without outside support, and so while it may sound somewhat disappointing that we don’t have more aggressive options, I think we have more options than we believe.

I think we should also think about targeting specific individuals for which we have evidence that are directly supporting Lashkar-e- Taiba, as opposed to taking a broad-stroked brush and going after the entire organization. I think this requires us to be more collaborative with our allies. In Pakistan, if we were to go after Lashkar-e-Taiba and their network of support in Thailand, what can Pakistan credibly say? You know, shame on you for going after our network in Thailand?

SEN. CARDIN: I want to go against terrorist organizations. Don’t get me wrong. My question is Pakistan’s complicity here in the U.S. —

MS. FAIR: Well, what are our —

SEN. CARDIN: And we’re providing aid to Pakistan. We have a pretty strict rule about not providing aid that can be filtered off to support terrorist organizations. If ISI and LT really have a close relationship, then there’s a real concern as to whether U.S. funds are being used to support terrorist organizations.

MS. FAIR: But if we didn’t have that engagement, sir, we would —

SEN. CARDIN: I understand that we always need to have strategic partners, but we have a clear role on terrorism.

MS. FAIR: No, no. We wouldn’t have been able to have our CIA assets in place in Pakistan to, for example, kill Osama bin Laden.

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So this — there’s no other country like Pakistan that represents such a convergence of severe national security threats that we’re really operating in a trade space. And you know, I would argue that we are limited in Lashkar-e-Taiba.

 

SEN. CARDIN: Trade space?

MS. FAIR: In other words, we’re constantly making trade-offs —

SEN. : Trading space.

MS. FAIR: — with Pakistan, and it’s a unique — it’s a unique country. There’s no other country — I will add Iran might be one in the future that operates with militant groups under its Islamic — under its nuclear umbrella, be we are constantly having to make trade- offs with Pakistan. Our only long-term hope, quite frankly, is that we can continue to provide investments that will allow the civilians over the secular time period to take control of security governance.

We need to be at every opportunity helping Pakistan’s parliamentarians, their various committees in the parliament on defense and intelligence to do their job. Our only hope, howsoever slim, that Pakistan will reverse course is if the civilians can exert control over security governance. And that means staying in there.

SEN. CARDIN: Just one more question: Is ISI, in your view, supporting and coordinating its activities with LT?

MS. FAIR: It certainly is. Pakistan is the arsonist and it’s the fireman. It will help us on groups that it shares the sense that it is a threat, but yes, it is my assessment it is continuing to work with LeT in a — in a very close way.

SEN. CARDIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thank you, Senator Cardin. Senator Udall.

 

SENATOR TOM UDALL (D-NM): Thank you, Chairman Kerry, and thank you for holding this hearing, and I think it’s been a very, very good discussion so far. Let me focus in a little bit on the — a little bit different tact, but the trial in Chicago that’s going on, that hasn’t been mentioned yet. And obviously the testimony as it comes out, I think, is going to show the ties with the ISI and, I think, has the potential to once again erupt into a problematic situation for U.S. and Pakistani relations.

Could you all talk a little bit about that and where you think that’s going? Obviously, you may not know all of the trial testimony, but I think a lot of the — a lot of that is out there right now. And any of you that want to jump in is fine.

MR. PILLAR: Well, obviously when you have a trial with public testimony, some things are forced into the open that might otherwise have been dealt with behind closed doors. But in response to your question, sir, and also Senator Cardin’s issues, I think after the raid at Abbottabad, the United States had some additional leverage over Pakistan. It was a huge embarrassment to the Pakistani military, and I think the administration, our administration, played it about right in not publicly rubbing the Pakistanis’ nose in that bit of dirt.

I would hope and assume that behind closed doors there are conversations going on that do take the form of a confrontation, as Senator Cardin mentioned. So that’s — that would be the main point I would add, that behind closed doors, out of the public, we take a rather tough line and don’t shy away from confrontation, but to publicly make an issue of it is not going to advance our cause.

SEN. UDALL: Just to stop you there, I think that’s a lot of what Senator Kerry was doing in the last couple of weeks over there. My understanding — go ahead please.

MS. FAIR: So one thing about the trial with David Coleman, he’ll be taking the stand. We have to also remember that what he says, howsoever inflammatory, may not be true, right? And so I’ve been concerned about the injudicious reporting of what he said. Obviously, he’s a terrorist. He’s unreliable. The basis of a plea bargain was that he was going to make these claims.

That being said, I also believe that the fundamental lineaments of his claims are true, but it’s — I believe it’s a marginal revelation. We already knew the ISI was behind this, but I’m going to basically take the point that Senator Kerry made, that Lashkar-e-Taiba is so close to the Pakistan ISI and to the army, that this is a very serious redline for them.

And meaningful steps to go after that group along with Haqqani, as long as we have this large counterinsurgency footprint that has to be resupplied, I think it’s going to be very difficult to make consensus across the interagency process to do something where the Pakistanis would try to inhibit our resupply of those troops.

And the northern distribution route is not a viable option, so this is one of the numerous reasons why I was a proponent of "counterterrorism-plus" if for no other reason that to diminish our dependence of Pakistan, but we have a greater space to be much more forceful on this particular issue, but when we’re trying to deal with our troops and keep them safe in Afghanistan, I think it’s going to be very difficult to stomach the kinds of things that we would have to do to get Pakistan to be aggressive on Lashkar-e-Taiba.

SEN. UDALL: Peter, you have any thoughts on this?

MR. BERGEN: No.

SEN. UDALL: Thank you, Senator Kerry. I appreciate it.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thank you, Senator Udall. This is a really obviously very, very complicated set of choices and interactions.

 

Dr. Pillar, from your experience within the agency, share with us a little bit how we ought to be looking at this relationship with ISI. And what — I mean, some people — I hear sometimes people talk about three governments in Pakistan in the following order: the army, the ISI and then the civilian government.

Would you say that the ISI has that much independence, and does it have that much autonomy and capacity to affect things on its own, or is it — can the army control what it does, and, if so, what are the options with respect to the ISI and these splinter groups that serve their purposes?

MR. PILLAR: I don’t think we should talk about the ISI and the army as if they were, you know, two entities. They are — you know, the ISI is part of the military establishment and there has been a fair amount of cross assignment, if you will, at the top, including chiefs of the general staff who have been themselves directors of ISI.

With regard to the first part of your question, Mr. Chairman, the relationship with ISI is perhaps a particularly outstanding example of one that we do see elsewhere around the world, of an intelligence and security service that — and this is generally true of the more authoritarian governments that we have to deal with — has enormous clout, and so the service-to-service relationship is not just a mundane, let’s-exchange-information-every-Tuesday kind of thing but rather one in which we realize and they realize this is an important channel for intergovernmental relations, and that from our standpoint we are talking to people who really matter. And so I agree with Christine Fair that, you know, having the presence, having the relationship is important for our purposes.

It’s always a matter — and it’s certainly a matter between us and the ISI — of both shared interest and conflicting interests. It is a game, if I may use that word, not to trivialize it, in which both sides are trying to get as much as they can from the other, realizing that it is partly on matters on which our interests are shared but also on which they conflict.

You can never trust entirely the other side but you can’t fail to do business with them either. We are highly dependent on liaison services in general, particularly on counterterrorism, even though there is not a single one that we can say we trust them totally.

SEN. KERRY

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: Well, does — I’d ask this of both you and Mr. Bergen — does the — does the indigenous threat of their own insurgency coming from the Pakistani Taliban — is that sufficient to motivate them to — let me rephrase that — can they take the actions they need to take in order to deal with that without upsetting their relationships with these other — with Lashkar-e-Taiba, with Haqqani, et cetera?

 

MR. PILLAR: That’s an example of where our interests do run parallel. You know, neither we nor the Pakistani establishment wants to see those forces become more of a problem than they really are. And I think the way you handle it is the way, in effect, we and the Pakistanis have handled it with some of the drone strikes, where we have this charade in which we have used some of that capability against Pakistani Taliban targets.

That’s in our interest. That’s in the Pakistani military’s interest as well. But part of the charade is they protest and pretend that it was all our business and they don’t like it. I’m afraid that’s the kind of game we’ll have to continue to play.

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: Well, let me perhaps differ with you slightly on that, having conversations with them recently. I think they’re more perturbed about those than you think, and I think it goes beyond just a level of a back and forth or a game, as you call it. I think they are paying a high political price for it. I think that, depending on the targets, they’re not that thrilled. And I think there’s a lot more serious push back now than we’ve seen in any recent time.

 

MR. PILLAR: I did not mean to minimize the genuine resentment that certainly is among parts of the population that then gets transmitted as well to the government. I was only trying to make the point that this is another area where the interests are partly conflicting and partly shared.

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: Well, I agree with that.

 

Mr. Bergen, what about the capacity for them to move against the indigenous insurgency and work hand in hand with us as a consequence? To what degree do these splinter groups pull them away from that on a constant basis?

MR. BERGEN: As you know, sir, the Pakistani Taliban mounted a 20-hour attack on the equivalent of their Pentagon in October of `09. That was all carried live on Pakistani television. Imagine if there was a 20-hour attack by a group of terrorists on the Pentagon here, carried live on CNN. That really got the attention of the military. There have been also four, by the way, attacks on ISI buildings by these militants. So the ISI itself is a target of some of these militants.

So I think that has been an opportunity. As you know, more Pakistani soldiers have died fighting these militants than U.S. and NATO soldiers combined. So everything that we’ve said today is true.

SEN. KERRY

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: I think that’s an important thing to put on the table here —

 

MR. BERGEN: Yeah.

SEN. KERRY

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: — is to remind people that some 30,000 Pakistani civilians have died at the hands of their insurgency internally, and over 5,000 troops have died in the Swat Valley and in Waziristan and in these other efforts. And a lot of people don’t either know that or sort of cast it aside as they think about the relationship.

 

MR. BERGEN: I couldn’t agree with you more, sir, and as a result of which, you know, the Taliban had a sort of religious Robin Hood image until several years ago. But support for the Taliban suicide bombing and al-Qaida has just cratered. So that’s what makes this a very complex picture.

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: Senator Lugar, I know we only have about 10 minutes before we need to go to the floor.

 

SEN. LUGAR: (I’m happy ?) to defer to Senator Menendez.

SEN. KERRY

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: All right.

 

Senator Menendez?

SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And thank you all for — I’ve been catching glimpses from my office as I was trying to deal with some constituents, and it’s incredibly thoughtful answers.

Let me ask you, you know, despite our incredible military presence in Afghanistan, there are supposedly only between 50 and 100 or some-odd al-Qaida fighters in the country. Nevertheless, General Petraeus has warned that if the U.S. abandons the counterinsurgency approach and significantly draws down various forces, various international organizations, terrorist organizations would exploit that opening and flood into Afghanistan.

Do you believe that’s the case? And what is the nature of the Afghan — the threat of the Afghan Taliban? Is it a terrorist threat to the United States? Is it a threat limited to its potential destabilization of a weak Afghan government? What’s your views of that?

MR. BERGEN: I think getting focus on the numbers of al-Qaida is kind of a red herring. On 9/11, there were 200 members of al-Qaida, and they inflicted the most devastating terrorist attack in history on the United States. It’s not just about al-Qaida. The president, for very obvious political reasons, has defined it thusly. But there are a lot of other reasons we’re there.

When the Taliban ran Afghanistan, every Muslim insurgent and terrorist group in the world was either headquartered or based there. And that alphabet soup has just migrated across a border that they don’t recognize into Pakistan.

So the idea that somehow, you know, the Pakistani Taliban is very different from the Afghanistan Taliban doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. After all, Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, lives in Pakistan. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of another Taliban group, lives in Pakistan. The Haqqani network, which is the Afghan Taliban, so-called, is in Pakistan.

And so I think that General Petraeus and others who made the point are not saying it’s just about the al-Qaida. It’s about preventing a return to the pre-9/11 Afghanistan, where it was basically a sort of Woodstock for every jihadist group from around the globe. And that is a reasonable concern.

And I think that, you know, there are just two or three quick other points I want to make. We also have a sort of moral obligation, when we overthrow somebody else’s government, to kind of not leave the place in — you know, to kind of pick up the pieces. And we’ve already done this twice in Afghanistan. We closed our embassy there in 1989. Into the vacuum came the Taliban, allied with al-Qaida.

We did it again in 2002 because of ideological opposition to nation-building by the Bush administration. There were only 6,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2003. That’s the size of the police department in Houston in a country the size of Texas, with a population 10 times larger.

So we’ve run the counterterrorism — (inaudible) — approach. We’ve done that already. And it’s not just about al-Qaida. There are other groups we need to be concerned about. An unstable Afghanistan makes an unstable Pakistan. We’ve already discussed why that’s important.

And finally, the Taliban are the Taliban. You know, this is not a bunch of Henry Kissingers in waiting who are going to preside over some sort of wonderful settlement in Afghanistan. These are people who incarcerated half the population in their houses, who continue to poison girls going to school in Pakistan and Afghanistan, who have massacred Shias and others, and who imposed a theocratic reign of terror on a population. So it’s not just about 65 members of al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

MS. FAIR: I would like to offer a dissenting view. I get very frustrated when people say, "Well, we did counterterrorism early on, and therefore it didn’t work, and therefore it won’t now." It’s a disingenuous argument, because all of the material conditions between then and now have changed. So if you’re going to evaluate counterterrorism in 2002 and counterterrorism today, you need to consider all these intervening variables.

Moreover, we’re not talking about 2,000 people in Afghanistan with a "counterterrorism-plus" footprint, right? We’re talking about remaining in a position to continue training the Afghan national security forces. There are 300,000 Afghan national security forces of varying degrees of capacity, mostly not that terribly impressive.

But the idea that the Taliban are going to roll back into Kabul under the current conditions, I think, is somewhat ridiculous. And I think President Karzai would like us to stay there for the training. I think he’d be happy to let us have access to bases to continue gathering intelligence on al-Qaida. He doesn’t want al-Qaida there either.

And I also think that the contemporary argument that says that if we don’t have a 130,000-person footprint in Afghanistan that our intelligence will decrease, there’s no evidence to believe that that’s correct. In fact, we could argue equally that when we’re no longer engaging in operations that Afghans despise because it hasn’t brought them a personal-security dividend, maybe our intelligence will actually improve.

So I think that we really need to put into the public debate questions: How tied are they to al-Qaida? As Dr. Pillar said, we can’t rely upon the historical narrative of the `90s to assume this relationship persists. Things have changed. So have they. Our analysis has to change. We have to ask, what is the nature of our intelligence? Is it so great today? Probably not. Might it improve if we weren’t alienating the Afghans with this counterinsurgency footprint? Possibly.

So I’d like to put on the table a very strong dissent from the picture outlined by Mr. Bergen.

MR. PILLAR: The Afghan Taliban, as I mentioned before, is not an international terrorist group. It’s concerned about events inside Afghanistan, and it has no support for the whole transnational terrorist idea, as represented by bin Laden.

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The other point I’d want to emphasize, following on Christine’s comments, about how things have changed and how the 1990s is not today. When I was working on counterterrorism in the 1990s and we were worried about bin Laden

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in Afghanistan — and this goes back before 9/11, before even the embassy bombings in 1998; we’re talking about the 1997 era — and the Clinton administration was wrestling with this.

 

Well, we still had the gloves on then, and we knew where bin Laden

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was. But there wasn’t the public support for using military force. When we had our embassies bombed in 1998 and President Clinton responded with a cruise-missile strike — which seems like a pin prick now, doesn’t it? — he was criticized for using excessive military force, for trying to divert attention away from domestic political matters.

 

Now clearly, ever since 9/11, the gloves have really come off. And so if there was anything even remotely resembling the kind of foreign terrorist presence in Afghanistan that we saw in the 1990s, we’d do a lot more than just one cruise-missile strike, even if we weren’t waging a counterinsurgency on the ground. We would basically bomb the heck out of it. And everyone knows that. And the Taliban knows that.

SEN. MENENDEZ: I listened to these answers. They’re very thoughtful. I just — listening to Mr. Bergen, I ask, do we have a real partner in Afghanistan at the end of the day to meet our goals, even as you describe them? And at what cost and for how long? It seems to me to be really a significant question to decide where we go at the end of the day.

MR. BERGEN: Since our time is short, let me just give you a very quick answer to that. Our partner is the Afghan people, not the Afghan government as represented by President Karzai. The most common —

SEN. MENENDEZ: Well, but we don’t get to work directly with the Afghan people. We get to work with their elected representative.

MR. BERGEN: Well, Karzai, his time is limited. I mean, he’s going to be out of office in 2014. And there are people already forming very effective politicians to challenge him. And so the most common polling question you can as is, is your life getting better? In America, only (17 ?) percent of Americans think their country is going in the right direction. Fifty-nine percent of Afghans think their country is going in the right direction because they know life is better than it was under the Taliban during the civil war, during the Soviet occupation.

So our partnership is with the Afghan people, who know that their lives are getting better, can see that the advantages are not living under the Taliban. And they want us to stay. They were very concerned about us leaving in July of this year. And the fact that we put December 2014 on the clock is something that they’re very happy about.

SEN. MENENDEZ: One last question, Mr. Chairman.

Now that bin Laden

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is dead, is al-Sorari (ph) or anyone else able to bring al-Qaida together?

 

MR. BERGEN: When you joined the Nazi party, you swore a personal oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler, not to Naziism. When Adolf Hitler died, Naziism basically died with it. It’s not an exact analogy, but when you joined al-Qaida, you swore a personal oath of allegiance to bin Laden.

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No one else can fit into his shoes. Ayman al-Zawahiri, if he took over, it would be great, because he would drive what remains of the organization into the ground.

 

SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. KERRY

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: Thank you very much.

 

Thank you, all of you. I’ve been trying to fit this image — given the Taliban attitude about music, I’m trying to work out this Woodstock analogy. (Laughter.) It’s an interesting challenge. (Laughs.)

SEN. MENENDEZ (?): That’s a 30-second sound bite. (Laughs.)

SEN. KERRY

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: That said, this is fascinating and tough and complicated. And we need to talk more. What I want to do is what we did with another panel is ask you if you would make yourselves available so we could have some session sometime just with the committee, quietly, and kind of dig into some of these things when we can pursue things a little more in other ways.

 

But it’s enormously helpful, and I thank all of you. The dissent on the panel is equally helpful. We want you here because you do have different points of view about it, and it tests our thinking a little bit. So we’re very appreciative to all of you, all three of you.

As I said, your full testimonies really are exemplary, each of you. Thank you for putting the time into them. And they’re important and are part of the record. And we look forward to following up with you in other venues as we go forward in these next weeks and months thinking about this. It’s a critical issue to the country, and it’s not going to go away quickly either. So we’ve got a lot of thinking to do and a lot of work to do.

Thank you very much for being here today.

We stand adjourned.





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ORGANIZATION:

AL-QAEDA (94%); GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY (91%)





PERSON:

JOHN KERRY (95%); OSAMA BIN LADEN (81%); BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (55%)





GEOGRAPHIC:

MASSACHUSETTS, USA (94%); DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, USA (93%) UNITED STATES (98%); PAKISTAN (94%); AFGHANISTAN (94%)





LOAD-DATE:

May 25, 2011





LANGUAGE:

ENGLISH





PUBLICATION-TYPE:

Transcript

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