WASHINGTON – United States government officials say American intelligence agencies concluded members of Pakistan's spy service helped plan the July 7 bombing of India's embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed 41 people, The New York Times reported.
The report said U.S. officials cited intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack as confirmation of Pakistan's ties to the blast.
Officials said the communications were intercepted before July 7, but were not detailed enough as to reference a specific bombing, The Times reported.
“It confirmed some suspicions that I think were widely held,” a State Department official told The Times. “It was sort of this ‘aha’ moment. There was a sense that there was finally direct proof.”
Shortly after the embassy bombing, Afghanistan blamed a foreign intelligence agency for the blast, making a veiled but clear reference to its eastern neighbor, Pakistan.
U.S. officials also said other new information confirmed that members of the Pakistani intelligence service were increasingly providing militants with details about the American campaign against them, The Times reported.
Top CIA and U.S. military officials recently traveled to Pakistan to press their concerns about apparent militant ties with Pakistani officials.
Pakistan Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas has denied accusations of any official Pakistan complicity with terrorist groups, calling them "unfounded and baseless," but he confirmed to The Associated Press that CIA Deputy Director Steven R. Kappes and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met earlier this month with Pakistani generals, including Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief. The meeting, first reported by The New York Times, occurred July 12.
The meeting also came as a top Pakistani official publicly rejected giving the U.S. military authority to enter the tribal regions to attack terror networks itself.
The United States has grown increasingly frustrated as Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militants thrive in Pakistan's remote areas and in neighboring Afghanistan, and has asked that U.S. troops be allowed to strike at terror networks. The new regime says it prefers to negotiate a new peace agreement with militant groups in the relatively ungoverned region, which is about the size of Maryland.
U.S. officials have long suspected members of Pakistan's intelligence service support or turn a blind eye to tribal warlords who have built extensive criminal networks in the semiautonomous western border area. They traffic in narcotics, weapons and consumer goods, launch attacks on Pakistani and Afghan targets, and they support terrorist groups like Al Qaeda.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said some Pakistani intelligence officers' support for the Jalaluddin Haqqani network — associated with both the Taliban and Al Qaeda — is of particular and long-standing concern.
U.S. officials say they believe the Indian embassy attack was probably carried out by members of a network led by Haqqani, The Times reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.