Pakistani intelligence official denies agency role in revealing name of CIA station chief

The CIA has pulled its top spy out of Pakistan after terrorists threatened to kill him, current and former U.S. officials said, an unusual move for the U.S. and a complication on the front lines of the fight against al-Qaeda. (Dec. 18)
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, December 18, 2010; 8:56 PM

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - An official with Pakistan's chief intelligence organization vigorously denied Saturday that the agency had exposed the top CIA spy in Pakistan, who left the country this week after being named in a legal complaint and receiving what U.S. officials said were death threats.

U.S. officials told some American news organizations Friday that they suspected Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, had exposed the identity of the CIA station chief in Islamabad, perhaps in retaliation for a recent U.S. civil lawsuit naming the ISI director in connection with the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The accusation would probably "create further rifts" in the close but tense relations between the CIA and the ISI at a pivotal point in their cooperation against Islamist militants, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He called the allegation "unsubstantiated" and said the CIA had lodged no complaints with the ISI about the matter.

"We deny it strongly," the official said. "If the CIA believes we have done it, then they should raise that issue with us on an official level, not by leaking it."

The station chief, who is undercover and whose name is classified, was named last month in a legal complaint being pursued by a Pakistani man, Kareem Khan, who said a CIA drone strike last year killed two of his relatives and a friend.

In a news conference last month, Khan said he sought $500 million in damages from the station chief and other U.S. officials, and he threatened to sue if that demand was not granted. It was not, and his attorney asked police last week to pursue a criminal case against the station chief.

The drone program is run by the CIA and secretly approved by Pakistan. The station chief would have played a major part in choosing targets for strikes, U.S. officials said.

Khan's attorney said he was given the station chief's name by two Pakistani print journalists. The ISI official said that claim was plausible, describing the name as "common knowledge."

CIA veterans who have worked in Islamabad said the station chief would rarely have left the U.S. Embassy compound and that only senior embassy staff would have known his name.

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