CIA, the US intelligence agency, had outsourced the job of killing top level Al-Qaida members to private security contractors in 2004 as a part of a secret programme, said media reports on Thursday.
According to reports of ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Washington Post’, the task of targeting top Al-Qaida leaders was contracted out to Blackwater USA, the security firm whose operations in Iraq came under intense scrutiny.
Two officials familiar wit the secret project revealed that the North Carolina Company was given millions of dollars for training and weaponry but the programme was cancelled before it was operationalised.
“Outsourcing gave the agency more protection in case something went wrong,” a retired intelligence officer intimately familiar with the assassination programme, was quoted as saying by ‘The Washington Post’.
The secret programme was initiated in 2001 as a CIA-led effort to kill or capture top Al-Qaida leaders using the agency’s paramilitary forces. However, in 2004, CIA decided to revive it under a different code name, using outside contractors, officials told ‘The Washington Post’.
“It is unclear whether the CIA had planned to use the contractors to actually capture or kill Qaeda operatives, or just to help with training and surveillance in the program,” reported ‘The New York Times’.