The five CIA informants arrested by Pakistan’s secret services include a Pakistani Army major serving as a doctor and the owner of the safe house used by the CIA to spy on Usama bin Laden in his Abbottabad compound, Fox News has learned.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service fiercely denied the arrest of the army major, saying the story was "false and baseless," but that’s because the army is desperate to defend its deeply tarnished reputation created by the raid that killed Usama bin Laden.
The fate of the arrested group is unclear. Both in the U.S. and Pakistan, the ISI is considered a sinister agency and there are genuine fears by American officials that the group most likely may never be seen again.
Washington-based U.S. officials also described to Fox News Pakistan’s “paranoia about the CIA” and that the ISI doesn’t want the agency operating here out of fear that it may uncover the depth to which the Pakistani secret services support extremist groups like the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Evidence of that was presented by CIA Director Leon Panetta during his visit to Islamabad Saturday, say people with knowledge with Panetta's meeting with Lt Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha and Pakistan's army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.
The CIA had tipped off the Pakistanis about a bomb-making factory used to attack NATO troops in Afghanistan. But when Pakistani soldiers turned up soon after, the militants had suddenly vanished.
The CIA believes the extremists moved too quickly without having been informed by elements within the ISI who had knowledge the Americans had discovered their operation.
The arrests of the CIA informants will only add to the widening rift between the U.S. and Pakistan.
Washington sees the informants' arrests as counterintuitive. One D.C.-based State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, told Fox News: “Why arrest those who helped in finding Usama bin Laden when Pakistan should be hunting down militants as it keeps promising to do, but never delivering anything of substance?”
The arrests also will add weight to arguments in Congress that the U.S. should cease $2 billion in annual funding to Pakistan’s military and the government amid accusations of top-level corruption.