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Welcome to Kabul:Reconstructions. You can follow the information below, which has been gathered from a
number of sources by a number of participants (click on the names at left for bios), to reconstruct your
own picture of events in Kabul since this site was launched on March 8th, 2003 and, in a sense, since the
reconstruction of Afghanistan began somewhere in the winter of 2001-02.
Some of this information has been provided in response to specific questions submitted by visitors like you. Please note that this section of the project is now maintained as an archive and has not been updated since 2005. Click here to ASK A QUESTION.
Arian Mouj Sharifi
Conspiracy theory alert: new documents come to light on Massoud assassination (Independent, CNN)
How to infiltrate an embassy: first, try removing your MI5 name badge By Kim Sengupta 06 November 2003 The Independent (London) The top secret operation was meant to be a great triumph in the war on terrorism, a cunning plan to extract vital intelligence. It ended in a shambles, with an embarrassing diplomatic incident between Britain and a key Commonwealth ally. In the immediate aftermath of 11 September, while Tony Blair was publicly praising the role of Pervez Musharraf's regime in helping to combat Islamic terrorism, MI5 was busy infiltrating the Pakistani High Commission in London. Agents disguised as workmen removed documents, tracked staff and attempted to plant bugs. The Pakistanis said yesterday that they would make an official complaint. A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The official comment is that we never comment on security matters. I am not going to be drawn on confidential diplomatic exchanges between the Pakistan government and the British Government." It is not surprising that the Pakistani legation, in Knightsbridge, south-west London, was a target. Western security services have long been convinced of links between Muslim fundamentalism and the Pakistani secret service, ISI. Some of those involved in the assassination of the Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood, in Afghanistan on 9 September 2001 allegedly received help with documents from agents of ISI. The course of events appeared at times to be a version of Carry On Spying. MI5, it is claimed, failed to return calls left on its emergency hotline; did not discover that the agent it had recruited for the mission had a history of psychiatric problems; an officer arrived for a "secret" meeting in the street forgetting to remove her MI5 identification badge; another, who had already infiltrated the High Commission, risked the security of the operation by returning for a second attempt in another guise. High Commission staff helpfully left codes for a cipher machine for sending secret messages on yellow Post-it notes stuck on a wall. Inside the offices of the military attachés, filing cabinets were left open with details of purchases of equipment. The diplomats handed over confidential documents to a "workman" who promised to pulp them. He handed them over to MI5. At the centre of the mission was an MI5 agent codenamed Notation. He received tens of thousands of pounds for his work in the High Commission, with the instruction not to bank it so as to avoid the scrutiny of the Inland Revenue. The paymasters appear to have been unaware that, years before, the agent had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and had spent a year in the Priory clinic. They also seem to have misjudged Notation's discretion - he described what had happened to journalists. Notation's involvement began when a building contractor was invited to tender for renovation work on the dilapidated High Commission. He noticed a lack of security; rooms accessible without a security pass were stacked with documents marked "confidential". Visa applications were stacked in the basement. The contractor felt he should alert British security. The contractor left messages on MI5's hotline but there was no response. It was easier to contact the CIA, through directory inquiries, at its offices in Langley, Virginia. A few days later he was contacted by a man calling himself Rick, to whom he handed plans of the legation at a meeting at the US embassy. Later the contractor met a woman in her 30s calling herself Claire. "I work for the government", she said. The contractor was given his codename and instructions - to provide descriptions of layout, communications and security. When Notation provided them, Claire's reaction was that he was a "natural". The next task was to take an MI5 agent, "Graham", into the High Commission. This too was successfully accomplished, and two men who worked at the building, of particular interest to MI5, were identified. The next coup was getting hold the documentation for "pulping". But Notation was worried by what he saw as inefficiency and the fear that he would be abandoned if things went wrong. He wanted out. A brief and terse meeting followed with Claire's boss, "a thin, balding man in his 50s" at a hotel in Victoria. Notation was tossed an envelope crammed with £50 bank notes and told not to contact Claire again. His life as a spy was over.
Cable says Massoud learned bin Laden was planning U.S. attack
From Mike Boettcher and Henry Schuster
Thursday, November 6, 2003
(CNN) -- Assassinated Afghan opposition leader Ahmed Shah Massoud had "limited
knowledge" of a planned attack against the United States and was warning the
West of the threat, according to a newly declassified cable from the Pentagon's
Defense Intelligence Agency.
Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance, the Taliban's main opposition, was
killed September 9, 2001, by a bomb inside a video camera during an interview at
his headquarters with two Tunisian al Qaeda operatives posing as journalists.
The cable, written in November 2001, was obtained under the Freedom of
Information Act by the National Security Archive at George Washington University
in Washington, D.C.
It was based on an interview with a classified source and reads:
"Through Northern Alliance intelligence efforts, the late commander Massoud
gained limited knowledge regarding the intentions of the Saudi millionaire,
Usama bin Laden and his terrorist organization, al-Qaida, to perform a terrorist
act against the U.S., on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the U.S.
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania."
The heavily edited DIA document does not specify what it meant by "limited
knowledge," and the portion that follows the reference is blacked out.
It continues by referring to a speech Massoud gave to the European Parliament in
April 2001 in which the cable says he "warned the US government" about bin
Laden. Massoud was on a diplomatic trip to Europe seeking financial support for
his cause from the EU and individual countries.
The DIA report points out that Massoud was not a military threat to al Qaeda,
even though his forces were fighting the Taliban for control of Afghanistan.
"Our investigators did look into the matter during their recent travels [to
Afghanistan] and spoke to persons who might have some knowledge about the
subject," said a spokesman for the independent commission set up by Congress to
investigate the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The cable says the two fake journalists, who were killed in the bomb blast, were
al Qaeda operatives.
According to an article in Voice of Jihad, an online magazine the Middle East
Media Research Institute says is associated with al Qaeda, the terrorist group
claimed responsibility for Massoud's assassination.
The story appeared last week in a translated version of the magazine on the Web
site of the Washington-based nonprofit independent institute, which provides
translations of Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew media reports and analyses of trends in
The article quoted an interview with a bin Laden bodyguard after word reached
bin Laden's camp of Massoud's death:
"I remember asking him, 'What happened?' And he replied by saying that Sheikh
Osama [bin Laden] asked the brothers: 'Who will take it upon himself to deal
with Ahmad [Shah] Massoud for me, because he harmed Allah and his sons?' A few
brothers volunteered to assassinate Massoud and be rewarded by Allah, and you
heard the good news."
Several Tunisian men were convicted in Belgium in September of supplying false
documents that Massoud's assassins used to help them travel to Afghanistan.
Kabul: Partial Reconstructions is an installation
and public dialogue project that explores the multiple meanings and resonances of
the idea of reconstruction -- as both process and metaphor -- in the context of present-day Kabul.
www.kabul-reconstructions.net is an online discussion forum, information resource, and medium for the communication of questions and answers about the reconstruction between people inside and outside the city of Kabul itself.