CIA using outsiders to load bombs on drones: Report
New York: US intelligence agency CIA has hired contractors from a private security firm for the job of loading bombs and missiles on drones to hit al Qaeda targets in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a work previously done by the agency`s workers, a media report said on Thursday.
The job was assigned to Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, the company whose operations in Iraq had come under intense scrutiny. It was earlier hired by CIA for its secret (now abandoned) programme to eliminate top al Qaeda leaders.
Contractors of Xe Services assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a work which was previously performed by CIA employees, The
New York Times said quoting officials.
"They also provide security at the covert bases," it said, adding that the role of the private firm in the Predator programme highlights the extent to which the CIA depends on "outsiders" for some of its most important functions.
According to the report, the CIA has now opened a second drone base in Jalalabad in Afghanistan, besides its original one in Shamsi, Pakistan. This is primarily because of the opposition from Pakistan in recent months.
"Officials said the CIA now conducted most of its Predator missile and bomb strikes on targets in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region from the Jalalabad base, with drones landing or taking off almost hourly," The New York Times said.
"The base in Pakistan is still in use. But officials said the US decided to open the Afghanistan operation in part because of the possibility that the Pakistani government, facing growing anti-American sentiment at home, might force the CIA to close the one in Pakistan," the paper said.
It is the CIA employees at its headquarters in Langley, Virginia, who select the target and pull the trigger.
"Only a handful of the agency`s employees actually work at the Predator bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the current and former employees said," the news report said, adding that Blackwater is not directly involved in it, except that it puts bombs and missiles on the drones.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Indian- Americans launch online petition to declare Pakistan 'sponsor of terrorism'
- Panel discussion over PM Modi's willingness to engage in direct dialogue with Pak
- DNA: Analysis over who is responsible for tense condition of Kashmir after Burhan Wani's death?
- EU warns Pakistan of political and economic sanctions over atrocities in Baloch
- Should Pakistani artists be restricted from working in India?
- SHOCKING VIDEO: This man was trying to take selfie with python - You won't believe what happened next!
- All you need to know about Reliance JioFi at Rs 1,999 – use free data till December 31
- Call up this number and get Reliance Jio's SIM for sure
- WATCH: Ravichandran Ashwin's magic ball that bamboozled Kane Williamson on Day 3
- If you have guts, send your suicide bombers to Pakistan: Samajwadi Party to MNS' Raj Thackeray