FBI utilising private spy network's skills to investigate Afghan aid workers' deaths

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 01, 2011 10:20 hrs

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reportedly taking the help of a private spy network operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan to investigate the killing of 10 medical aid workers in northern Afghanistan.

The New York Times quoted American officials and private contractors as saying that the spy network, managed by a former top official at the Central Intelligence Agency named Duane R. Clarridge, has provided agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Kabul with intelligence reports about militants who may have been involved in the attack, which killed six Americans last August.

Clarridge's network, recently renamed the Eclipse Group, has also fed information to an F.B.I.-supervised task force in Kabul that is in charge of dealing with corruption inside Afghanistan's government, people familiar with the operation have said.

The group has reportedly disclosed information ranging from the business dealings of Ahmed Wali Karzai, the half-brother of President Hamid Karzai, to rumours that Afghan officials had secretly shipped large amounts of money to Dubai, the paper said.

An F.B.I. spokesman declined to comment on Clarridge's work with the bureau in Afghanistan.

Clarridge's lawyer, Raymond Granger, though declining to discuss any ties between his client and the F.B.I, said that The Eclipse Group was "cooperating with the Justice Department's investigation in the murder of the 10 aid workers, and is prepared to assist in other areas as well."

Granger also said that the F.B.I.'s use of private citizens for help in criminal investigations, in the United States or abroad, was "as basic as it gets," adding that Clarridge was not paid for any work he did for the government.

The attack on the 10 medical aid workers in the remote mountains of Badakhshan Province on August 2010 was the largest killing of aid workers in the country in years.

American officials have not been able to figure out so far who exactly were behind the attacks.

Days after the killings, the Taliban had claimed in its press releases that the group consisted of Western spies. (ANI)