US Defence official hired freelance spies


A US Defence Department official set up a network of private contractors in Afghanistan and Pakistan to track and kill suspected Islamic militants, reports said yesterday. The official, Michael Furlong, 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, a report said. The information was then sent to military units and intelligence officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan for use in strikes. The New York Times report said that while it has been widely reported that the CIA and the military were using unmanned drones to attack al-Qa’ida operatives, some US officials said they were troubled that Mr Furlong seemed to be running an off-the-books spy operation. They were not sure who supervised his work.