From December 2006 until February 2008, I traveled, off and on, along both sides of the Afghan - Pakistani border.
The Wikileaks disclosures are further confirmation that what the Taliban told me is true; that Pakistan is working against the U.S. in Afghanistan. But there is more to this story.
In December 2007, I met at night with an insurgent leader in Chitral, Pakistan. He had been fighting across the border in Kunar, Afghanistan but got sick and had to return to Chitral. "We have camps here and they give us treatment." I asked who "they" were. "Elders, government people, the ISI, the estekhbarat" (intelligence agency).
He was the leader of 40 men. He told me they received $2,000 for every bomb they planted, $2,000 for every Afghan army soldier they killed, $10,000 for every American soldier they killed and $20,000 to the family of suicide bombers.
Pakistan has said for years that it has 90,000 soldiers along the border. A U.S. military expert wrote in the New York Times on March 23 of 821 Pakistani military posts along the border. Where are these outposts? I saw U.S. soldiers everywhere in Afghanistan along the border. I never saw any Pakistani soldiers in the tribal areas, except a few, mostly ISI officials, in civilian clothes, carrying rifles, or the paramilitary Frontier Scouts, at official border crossings.
At Ducalam, a border crossing near Nuristan, with a small shed and a steel bar across the road, a tribal chief said that Pakistani soldiers came to help the Taliban. "Then why are the Taliban killing so many people in Pakistan?" I asked. He smiled.
"Pakistan is killing those people to show how bad things are to get money from America. Pakistan supported us against the Russians. Now it works with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to get America out of this region."
On February 11, 2008, Tariq Uzizuddin, Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan was kidnapped in the tribal areas. "It's all a drama," Afghans said, even on television. It was the strange game of the ISI, a way for Pakistan to show the U.S. how dangerous it was, all to get more money
In February 2008, I was captured by the Taliban in the tribal areas. I was trying to reach Jalaladin Haqqani and Gulbadeen Hekmatyar, two insurgent leaders, former mujahideen I knew from the 1980s. "The Taliban patrol the border for the Pakistani army," said one of my jailors. How could he prove this? "We found you, didn't we," he responded. "Musharraf is smart and Bush is stupid. Pakistan defeated the Russians in Afghanistan and now it will defeat the Americans." He later told me, just as the Wikileaks documents state, that former ISI head, Ahmed Gul, was involved with the Taliban. He mentioned the names of other well-known former Pakistani army officers.
On June 27, CIA director, Leon Panetta, told ABC News, as Bush Administration officials also said, "the terrain of the tribal areas is probably the most difficult in the world." This is false. The Andes and the Himalayas are far more difficult. I hiked through the tribal areas, through forests and grassland, along dry river beds, dusty tracks, open, rocky terrain and up winding goat trials higher into Afghanistan and back in the 1980s, and again in 2007 and 2008.
Panetta said that bin Laden is hiding along the border. Based upon my reporting, interviews with common Afghans, tribal leaders and the Taliban, from Kunar and Chitral in the north to Paktia and Kurram Agency in the south, living in villages, my knowledge of Pashtun culture, the deadly competition among tribal leaders, even cousins, for land, money and power, how outsiders, even from the same ethnic group, stood out, my experiences as a prisoner and knowing some of what my captors had to go through to hide me, their fear of being exposed, and the power of Pakistani political agents, have convinced me that bin Laden is not hiding along the border. The Taliban told me that he was being kept by the ISI. The Taliban were being used regionally, al-Qaeda was international.
The United States is giving Pakistan over one billion dollars in year. It is very probable that Pakistan is using some of this U.S. taxpayer money to kill U.S. soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan. How can this be? President Obama must demand that Pakistan stop backing the Taliban and truly explain our policy toward that country.
By Jere Van Dyk:
Special to CBSNews.com