Afghanistan: British trained intelligence unit officers ‘abandoned’

when the afghan government collapsed some worried about the hardware left behind but something else was also left behind and it was more important to the coalition campaign in afghanistan a system built up over more than a decade to monitor phone and internet communications across the country now in hiding we’ve been communicating with those who ran afghanistan’s secret surveillance infrastructure who now fear it’ll be turned against them i should say that it was one of the most important and key units in identifying and pursuing terrorists we carried out many tasks with the help of information technology unfortunately now this unit is in the hands of the taliban and they have access to all the facilities they have forced some of the employees to work there and brought some others from the outside to find out about the security service personnel this is creating so much fear for all of us britain had a special responsibility for that section known as lawful interception or delta zero one one within the afghan national directorate of security the nds it helped set it up in 2009 trained and paid many of its experts the delta zero one one unit was a success story for british mentoring it produced vital intelligence that launched hundreds of counter-terrorist and other operations but when the afghan government collapsed in august only a few of those who knew about this secret technology of surveillance were evacuated we’ve been in touch with several of those who were left behind and they expressed their fears of being murdered by the taliban and that britain has forgotten them we’ve established that some members of delta011 probably around 25 were evacuated during operation pitting the british airlift from kabul airport that ended on the 28th of august but that many others including two we know of who’d applied for british visas in may were never called forward we hope to continue to be able to say to people well you can you can come out and one of the key things that we’re saying to the to the taliban to the the government uh the the new authorities in in kabul’s to engage with the west to unlock uh those funds safe passage is for those who want to come out is obviously the number one condition but in the weeks since the evacuation several former nds officers in hiding that we’ve been in contact with have heard nothing not even whether they’re eligible for britain’s afghan resettlement scheme or arab the reality is dan jarvis served alongside the nds on operations in afghanistan and is now a labour mp these are people who are uniquely vulnerable these are people who provided a very important service while coalition forces were serving in afghanistan and of course they they have an expertise a capability that will be particularly useful to the new regime so i think the government does need to look closely at how many people we’re talking about here and what can be done specifically to evacuate from the country the americans seem to be approaching this with a much greater urgency than the british it’s been suggested to us by british official sources that the evacuation couldn’t take everyone so concentrated on current rather than former delta zero one one members but that’s disputed [Music] i’m sorry that’s a shameful lie we were working in delta zero one one you know they even took useless people cooks gardeners drivers cleaners from nds people left behind will not be given refuge because they weren’t employed by the british government say contacts in whitehall but the afghans dispute that too saying that while basic salaries were paid by the afghan government these were topped up by britain often to more than double the basic rate due to close cooperation with sis britain’s secret intelligence service it was a joint mission of nds and sis everything was explained in the memorandum of understanding the unit was fully supported by sis all staff in our unit were polygraphed by sis we were paid by both but worked under direct supervision of sis and reported to sis three of those we’ve been in touch with were also brought to the uk for special training in the interception of mobile phones this remarkable footage was given to us by an afghan brought to the uk in 2011. in it the british trainer explains how mobile phone communications can be re-routed from the service provider the afghans were carefully vetted before being brought to the uk [Music] we’ve established which company was subcontracted by british intelligence agencies to do the training and confirmed that the trainer named to us by the afghans work there yet the people given this specialist knowledge have been cut adrift by the arab scheme and former sis colleagues their messages go unanswered i had two whatsapp numbers for the uk support team but both of them are offline since the 31st of august the uk’s support team was a 15 strong mi6 and gchq element based at the british embassy data linked to delta 0 1 1 in an nds compound at shash darak across the city as the section grew to more than 200 staff able to monitor all of afghanistan’s phone and internet services it could also feed the uk’s intelligence picture they had direct connectivity to us and all of our data the left behind feel anger with their former allies unfortunately people like me who worked side by side with the uk and u.s allies and carried out our duties we are left in such a horrifying and dreadful situation every minute we face death threats we don’t even have a chance to leave our front door to grab a bottle of water we don’t have anything we should have been evacuated and we are left in a dire and dangerous situation and in fear now that the taliban are fully in control they’re keen to use the surveillance system developed with uk know-how and cash to target their own enemies some members of delta zero one one have already agreed to work for them and are trying to persuade those in hiding i am in real problems from nds they’re calling and giving messages to come to the office today again i got calls from nds i have not answered their calls in the past few days they have killed many afghan national security forces staff and others who supported the western world the taliban have issued a decree ordering all military and intelligence personnel back to work one of the nds staff in hiding has shared with us a letter from a taliban security office that was left with his family it accuses him of collaborating with british intelligence tells him to turn himself in and says it’s his last warning well under the threat of death it’s entirely understandable why some people might decide to do that but i think that means it’s all the more urgent that the british government is seeking to engage and in trying to ensure wherever possible that these people who do have these capabilities are not able to deploy them in support of the new regime i think that would be particularly worrying for the people of afghanistan and i think it only underlines the particular importance of providing support to these individuals when one considers who the new taliban intelligence boss is the ironies of britain leaving behind a state-of-the-art national surveillance system could hardly be more bitter siraj haqqani has long had a 10 million us dollar bounty on his head as a specially designated global terrorist but now controls the nds if you’d think that the prospect of having british trained experts running surveillance for the taliban might cause wheels to move a bit faster in whitehall think again none of the afghan intelligence officers that we’ve been in touch with including one who’s managed to get out of the country already have yet heard from the british government about whether they’ll get the right to resettle here last week a senior foreign office official was in kabul to talk to the taliban he offered speeded up aid in return for freedom of movement for afghans including those left behind the question now is whether the taliban will ever let those intelligence experts go mark urban there will we ask the foreign office for a response to this story a uk government spokesperson told us the government continues to do all it can to ensure safe passage for those who wish to leave and is committed to supporting the people of afghanistan the afghan relocations and assistance policy for those who work with the uk and afghanistan remains open the arap scheme is not time limited the government’s working to facilitate the continued relocation of those who are eligible  

Leave a Comment