Archive

Posts Tagged ‘shamsi’

Shamsi Air Base taken back from CIA, US forces–>TheNews

April 22, 2011 7 comments

By Ansar Abbasi

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=5458&Cat=13&dt=4%2F22%2F2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has stopped all US operations from the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan, an airport which was given to American forces for use after 9/11 and drone attacks were launched from the base on targets in the tribal areas, military sources have confirmed. It was also used extensively in 2001 when thousands of US sorties took off to bomb Afghanistan a few weeks after the 9/11 attack in New York.

As the relations between Islamabad and Washington have strained due to latter’s mounting interference and repeated breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the US Embassy spokesman, Alberto Rodriguez, confirmed that there are no US forces at the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesperson, when approached about his version on the vacation of US forces and the deadly drones from Shamsi airfield, explained that the airfield does not belong to the PAF while the Pakistan Army sources confirmed that the airfield was free from the American forces.

No one was prepared to share with The News the dates or the time period when the Shamsi airfield was vacated by the Americans although the sources insist that it is a recent development.

Almost a year back, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar spoke on the topic of the Shamsi Air Base confirming that it was being used by American forces for logistical purposes but, he added, the government was not satisfied with payments for the use of the facility.

Mukhtar, however, did not go into the nature of airfield’s use by the American forces. Prior to Shamsi, Pakistan had also got vacated from the US forces the Jacobabad Air Base and Pasni, which were used for its operations in Afghanistan.

The US has been using the Shamsi Air Base in Balochistan province to station unmanned Predator drones that have been used to attack terrorist targets inside Pakistan’s tribal areas. Shamsi airfield, also called Bandari, is a small airfield and air station located about 200 miles southwest of Quetta near the town of Washki.

In 2009, media reports revealed that the airfield was used by the United States Central Intelligence Agency as a base for Predator drone attacks on so-called militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas but ended up killing several hundreds innocent people. On January 9, 2002 a US Marine Corps KC-130 aircraft reportedly crashed on approach to Shamsi. All seven crew members were killed in the crash.

In February 2009, The Times of London had announced that it had obtained Google images from 2006 which showed Predator aircraft parked outside a hangar at the end of the runway of the Shamsi airfield. Before that, a US Senator Dianne Feinstein said that the CIA was basing its drone aircraft in Pakistan. The US company Blackwater was also reported to have a presence there, hired by the government to arm the drones with missiles.

It was General Musharraf who had permitted the US to use its airbases not only to attack Afghanistan but also to launch drone attacks on the people of Pakistan in the name of the so-called war on terror. The present regime also continued with Musharraf’s policies and allowed much larger number of drone attacks than before.

WikiLeaks had revealed that Prime Minister Gilani had endorsed the drones’ policy. Gilani was reported to have even said to the US officials that his government would raise hue and cry over these drone attacks for the sake of countering the public pressure.

However, of late and after the Raymond Davis episode, things became extremely tense between Washington and Islamabad with the CIA insisting to carry on with its operations, including the drone attacks inside Pakistan, while the ISI is adamant to restricting the Americans from crossing the red-line.

Blackwater Loses a Job for the C.I.A.–>NYT

December 13, 2009 1 comment

Blackwater Loses a Job for the C.I.A.

NewyorkTimes

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/12/us/politics/12blackwater.html

By MARK MAZZETTI

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has terminated a contract with the security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide that allowed the company to load bombs on C.I.A. drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, intelligence officials said Friday.

The contract gave employees with the company an operational role in one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s most significant covert programs, which has killed dozens of militants with Predator and Reaper drones. The company’s involvement highlighted the extent to which the C.I.A. had outsourced critical jobs to private companies since the 9/11 attacks.

The contract with the company, now called Xe Services, was canceled this year by Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, according to a C.I.A. spokesman. In August, The New York Times first revealed the existence of the contract, which was run by a division of the company called Blackwater Select, which handles classified contracts.

George Little, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that Mr. Panetta had ordered that the agency’s employees take over the jobs from Xe employees at the remote drone bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that Mr. Panetta had also ordered a review of all contracts with the company.

“At this time, Blackwater is not involved in any C.I.A. operations other than in a security or support role,” Mr. Little said.

The disclosure about the terminated contract comes a day after The Times reported that Blackwater employees had joined C.I.A. operatives in secret “snatch and grab” operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blackwater’s role in the raids grew out of contracts that the company had with the spy agency to provide security for the C.I.A. in Kabul and Baghdad.

The company had a dual role in the drone program, said current and former employees and intelligence officials. Contractors on the secret bases assembled and loaded Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs onto drones, and they also provided security at the C.I.A. bases.

The C.I.A. did not allow contractors to select targets for the drone attacks or pull the trigger on the strikes. That work was done at the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Langley, Va.

But Blackwater’s direct role in the drone operations sometimes led to disputes between the contractors and C.I.A. employees, as the spy agency sometimes accused Blackwater employees of poor weapon assembly if the missile or bomb missed a target. In one instance last year, a 500-pound bomb dropped off a Predator before the drone had launched its payload, leading to a frenzied search along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

A company employee said the bomb was eventually found not far from the intended target.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers