Rebel Reports By Jeremy Scahill
In an interview with the Pakistani TV station Express TV, Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that the private security firms Blackwater and DynCorp are operating inside Pakistan. “They’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan,” Gates said, according to a DoD transcript of the interview. “There are rules concerning the contracting companies. If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.”
This appears to be a contradiction of previous statements made by the Defense Department, by Blackwater, by the Pakistani government and by the US embassy in Islamabad, all of whom claimed Blackwater was not in the country. In September, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, denied Blackwater’s presence in the country, stating bluntly, “Blackwater is not operating in Pakistan.”
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German prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that the CIA deployed a team of Blackwater operatives on a clandestine operation in Hamburg, Germany, after 9/11 ultimately aimed at assassinating a German citizen with suspected ties to Al Qaeda. The alleged assassination operation was revealed last month in a Vanity Fair profile of Blackwater’s owner Erik Prince.
The magazine reported that after 9/11, the CIA used one of Prince’s homes in Virginia as a covert training facility for hit teams that would hunt Al Qaeda suspects globally. Their job was find, fix and finish: “Find the designated target, fix the person’s routine, and, if necessary, finish him off,” as the magazine put it.
According to Vanity Fair, one of the team’s targets was Mamoun Darkazanli, a naturalized German citizen originally from Syria. Darkazanli has been accused by Spain of being an Al Qaeda supporter with close ties to the alleged 9/11 plotters who lived in Hamburg. The Blackwater/CIA team “supposedly went in ‘dark,’ meaning they did not notify their own station–much less the German government–of their presence,” according to Vanity Fair. “They then followed Darkazanli for weeks and worked through the logistics of how and where they would take him down.” Authorities in Washington, however, “chose not to pull the trigger.”
This week, a senior lawmaker in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union called on Washington to provide an explanation. “If this commando really existed and the US government knew about it but didn’t notify our government then this would be a very grave incident,” said the lawmaker, Wolfgang Bosbach.
His concerns were echoed in the US by Representative Jan Schakowsky, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “This really is part of an ongoing investigation that I can’t talk about, but even the fact that there is that allegation, I think, gives one a picture of the degree to which Blackwater has been completely enmeshed in these secret operations,” Schahowsky said. “And, you know, at least the allegation that they are, I think is disturbing enough. And there is an investigation going on around activities like that.”
Dieter Wiefelspütz, the domestic policy spokesperson for the parliamentary group of Germany’s center-left Social Democrats, told Der Spiegel it is irrelevant that Darkazanli’s targeted assassination was never carried out. “If it can be confirmed, then this was a murder plot,” he said. The conservative Christian Democratic Union joined the Social Democrats in calling for an official inquiry.
From Der Spiegel:
Hans-Christian Ströbele, a prominent German Green Party politician, however, said he was unconvinced. “The fact is that the CIA can, for the most part, do whatever it wants here in Germany,” the member of parliament said. “The secret prisoner transports after September 11 showed that–and no one dared to do anything about it.” Try to imagine the opposite happening, he said. “Imagine if (Germany’s federal intelligence agency) the BND were to carry out a hit job via a front company, say in New Orleans. It would be a shocking occurrence,” he said….
Ströbele said he would call for the parliamentary control committee to discuss the allegations. He said one also had to ask “where the German intelligence services were.” After all, he said, “they are supposed to find out whether other services are romping about here.”
In an interview on German TV this week, Darkazanli said he was “speechless” at the story. Ströebele, the Green Party lawmaker, also asked for a probe about what the German government knew about the alleged CIA/Blackwater operation. “It can’t be true that they knew nothing,” he said.
This brewing scandal in Germany is the latest allegation to surface in what is a clear pattern of the United States conducting clandestine rendition and assassination operations within the borders of allied countries. In November, an Italian judge convicted twenty-three US intelligence operatives in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian imam from a Milan street as part of a CIA extraordinary rendition operation. Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, a k a Abu Omar, was taken to Egypt, where he said he was tortured.