‘What if US is seen as exporter of terrorism?’

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Citing the case of Pakistani-American David Headley, a classified CIA document released by whistleblower organisation Wikileaks asks what would happen if foreign countries began to view the US as an “exporter of terrorism”.

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The document prepared by the CIA’s “red cell”, a unit responsible for preparing analysis papers from an adversarial perspective, notes that a number of Americans have travelled overseas to commit violent acts, like Headley, who has pleaded guilty to conducting surveillance in support of the 26/11 Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) attack in Mumbai.

Pakistan based terrorist outfit “LeT induced him to change his name from Daood Gilani to David Headley to facilitate his movement between the US, Pakistan and India,” it said.

Such exports are not new, the paper said. Baruch Goldstein, an American Jewish doctor, killed 29 Palestinians praying at a mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994. That helped trigger a wave of bus bombings by the extremist Palestinian Hamas group, in 1995, it noted.

US citizens also provided “financial and material support” for armed groups in Northern Ireland: much of the funding for the Irish Republican Army, for example, came from Irish-Americans.

“Contrary to common belief, the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon,” the report said. “Nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin.”

“This dynamic belies the American belief that our free, open and integrated multicultural society lessens the allure of radicalism and terrorism for US citizens. Late last year five young Muslim American men travelled from northern Virginia to Pakistan allegedly to join the Pakistani Taliban and to engage in jihad.”

The three-page document, dated Feb 2, 2010, asked, “What If Foreigners See the United States as an ‘Exporter of Terrorism?’ “and concluded that foreign governments would be less likely to cooperate with the US on detention, intelligence-sharing, and other issues.

“If the US were seen as an exporter of terrorism, foreign partners may be less willing to cooperate with the United States on extrajudicial activities, , including detention, transfer, and interrogation of suspects in third party countries,” the report noted.

“Primarily we have been concerned about Al Qaeda (AQ) infiltrating operatives into the United States to conduct terrorist attacks, but AQ may be increasingly looking for Americans to operate overseas,” said the document.

“As a recent victim of high-profile terrorism originating from abroad, the US Government has had significant leverage to press foreign regimes to acquiesce to requests for extraditing terrorist suspects from their soil.

“However, if the US were seen as an ‘exporter of terrorism,’ foreign governments could request a reciprocal arrangement that would impact US sovereignty,” the leaked CIA document said.

George Little, a CIA spokesman, said in a statement that the document was merely a think piece – one of many prepared by the agency.

“These sorts of analytic products, clearly identified as coming from the agency’s ‘red cell’, are designed simply to provoke thought and present different points of view,” he said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined “to comment on the contents of classified material that’s put up on WikiLeaks. I don’t think I can.”

Wikileaks has released dozens of leaks over the years, but it gained particular attention last month, when it published more than 75,000 classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan. It has promised to release another 15,000 in the coming weeks.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])