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Ignatius calls the ISI "a pervasive intelligence presence" that frightens people in Pakistan. As part of the Pakistani military, it its offices around that country have been targets of Taliban and suicide bombers, so it has lost many officers. Ignatius says the ISI is the "eyes and ears" of the military.
"Have there been rumors that the ISI may have been infiltrated by al Qaida?" Diane asked.
"There are rumors. They're persistent," Ignatius said. The ISI is so complicated partially because, Ignatius says, the U.S. asked it to recruit among Islamic fundamentalists at the time when America had decided the best way to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan was to effectively organize a Jihad against them. Now, the U.S. is asking for the ISI's help in cracking down on, for instance, the Haqqani network that has been killing American and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan - but Ignatius says we "have to be honest enough to remember" that the Haqqani network first came into power because the U.S. provided the money and training for its members decades ago.