US man set pvt spy network in Kabul, Pak

WASHINGTON: A US official identified as Michael Furlong organised a network of private contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the purpose of finding and killing suspected Islamic militants, The New York Times reported today.

Citing unnamed military officials and businessmen in Afghanistan and the United States, the newspaper said Furlong, who works for the Defence Department, hired contractors from private security companies that employed former CIA and Special Forces members. These people gathered intelligence on the whereabouts of suspected Islamic militants and the location of insurgent camps, the report said. After that, the information was sent to military units and intelligence officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan for use in possible strikes, the paper said. Some US officials said

they were concerned that Furlong could be running an

unofficial spy operation, adding they were not sure who condoned and supervised his work, The Times said.

The paper noted that it was generally considered illegal for the military to hire contractors to act as covert spies. It was also possible that Furlong’s network might have been improperly financed by diverting money from a programme designed to gather information about the region, The Times said. A Pentagon spokesman today said the report raises serious questions that warrant further review.

“The story makes some

serious allegations and raises numerous unanswered questions that warrant further

review by the department,”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.