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Spy vs Spy: ISI knew Kulbushan Jadhav was ‘small fry’, waited before snaring him, says new book

In the book 'Spy Stories: Inside the Secret World of the RAW and the ISI', the authors quote an unnamed colonel in the external intelligence wing of ISI as saying, “The ISI waited patiently, hoping to grow Jadhav into something special and then when he was big enough, as a target, ISI would pull him in."

Written by Krishn Kaushik | New Delhi |
Updated: August 13, 2021 10:45:02 am
kulbushan jadhav, kulbushan jadhav ISI, kulbushan jadhav book, Pakistan ISI, Spy Stories: Inside the Secret World of the RAW and the ISI, RAW book, ISI book, indian express newsAuthors Adrian Levy, Cathy Scott-Clark. (Pic courtesy: Juggernaut)

🔴Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) knew Kulbushan Jadhav was “small fry” but waited to “manufacture a big, fat Indian catch”.

🔴Indian intelligence agencies infiltrated Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s circles and waited for foreign militants to join him.

🔴On the 26/11 attack, foreign agencies sent 18 detailed briefs, including likely targets in Mumbai, the number of attackers, their route, and method — but all this intelligence was “largely ignored”.

These are some of the claims in Spy Stories: Inside the Secret World of the RAW and the ISI, journalist couple Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark’s latest book, published by Juggernaut, on the alleged secret dealings of Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

While the authors have pieced together the anecdotes in the book from talking to several high-profile serving and retired spies, their main sources are two lesser-known, mid-level ex-officers, one in the ISI and the other R&AW. The ISI officer, identified by his nom de guerre ‘Major Iftikhar’, is supposed to have taken part in several ISI operations, including in Kashmir, before going rogue. The former R&AW officer, identified as ‘Monisha’, too got disillusioned by the agency she served and is now settled in the US, the authors write.

Spy Stories: Inside the Secret World of the RAW and the ISI is journalist couple Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark’s latest book, published by Juggernaut

On Jadhav — who was arrested in Balochistan in 2016 on charges of being an Indian spy and who has been languishing in a Pakistan jail since then — the authors write that ISI used the network of Uzair Baloch, a Karachi-based “landlord, trader, thug, local hero, robber, and philanthropist” with “deep connections into Iranian Baluchistan”, to spy in the Iranian port city of Chabahar.

Sometime in 2014, in a compound in Chabahar, the ISI “identified men they believed to be RAW officers and they puzzled over one repeat visitor they did not know… He was not an Iranian. But he appeared to be running a marine freight business from there,” the book quotes an ISI officer.

The authors quote an unnamed colonel in the external intelligence wing of ISI as saying, “The ISI waited patiently, hoping to grow Jadhav into something special and then when he was big enough, as a target, ISI would pull him in”.

The book says Jadhav was outraged by the Parliament attack of 2001 and offered to assist Indian agencies.

Four years after 26/11, Jadhav reported something that was too good to be true. “He told the people he was speaking to that he had managed to work his way into the Baloch family of Lyari. His contact was a nephew of Uzair Baloch,” says the book.

Jadhav had thus “been ensnared by the ISI which had been dangling the Baloch family, hoping he would bite… The game was on… a Karachi crime family serving ISI to buy their freedom; the ISI that wanted to manufacture a big, fat Indian catch”.

On Kashmiri militant and Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, whose killing in 2016 set off protests across the Valley, Levy and Scott-Clark say he could have been killed earlier, but Indian agencies had infiltrated his internal circle, and kept him under constant surveillance, using him to trap foreign militants.

“More people of every kind wanted in. Veterans risked the LoC crossing into India, without knowing that the NTRO and RAW were constantly monitoring them, Burhan Wani acting like flypaper for the Indian intelligence community,” they write.

Wani was shot dead on July 8, 2016, in a village named Bamdora, where he was hiding with some accomplices. “Outside the Valley, in New Delhi, something had shifted,” the journalists say.

On the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the authors say what “unfolded on 26/11 was so close to the intelligence excavated by Western agencies”, who had an undeclared, high value source in David Headley, the Pakistani-American Lashkar terrorist who is serving a prison sentence in the US.

Indian agencies had been told by the US to safeguard the targets — intelligence that went “largely ignored”.

The book quotes Monisha as saying, “I was unable to get traction in Lodhi Road [R&AW]… What mattered was whether India bothered to develop the intelligence from GCHQ and the NSA before the raid. Or did we fail, through laziness, or – worse still – by intent?”

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