Islamabad, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Pakistani intelligence agency has claimed that the United States was able to pinpoint the position of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in the residential compound in Abbotabad on the basis of secret information the agency had given to its American counterpart.
The Pakistani agency broke its silence following the sarcastic criticisms it came under inside the country or from its allies abroad and unfriendly countries because of the worst intelligence failure in the country’s history and claimed it provided the United States with vital information which resulted in the operation in which Bin Laden was killed. The government statement issued by the foreign minister last night claimed that “intelligence information indicated that some foreigners in the area around Abbotabad were there until the middle of April” and pointed out that “the American intelligence service benefited from the intelligence information we had provided to them to identify and search for Bin Laden. It is the truth the US President and his Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton acknowledged in their statements.” The Pakistani Government announced it would investigate what it considered an obvious failure by its intelligence agencies to pinpoint the whereabouts of Bin Laden, the most wanted terrorist in the United States who was hiding in Abbotabad, the Pakistani city in the northwest of the country where he was killed by a special American force.
A prominent military official told Asharq Al-Awsat: “That was an obvious intelligence failure.” The compound where Bin Laden lived is at a distance of only 100 meters from Kakul Academy, the largest military academy in the country and the headquarters for training the Pakistani army’s officers and where Pakistani Army Commander General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani claimed before two weeks that he had crushed the mujahidin.
US officials and influential congressmen had claimed that the Pakistani army and intelligence knew about Bin Laden’s whereabouts and that he had been hiding in Abbotabad since last August. But a prominent Pakistani Government official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the existence of such claims underlines the need to investigate the Pakistani intelligence services’ failure to pinpoint Bin Laden’s hideout. Pakistani security analysts point out that the Pakistani Government and intelligence services are responsible for the failure. Karaman Khan, the prominent political analyst and famous commentator in the private television channels, says: “If you examine closely the Pakistani foreign minister’s statement then it would become clear to you that the government wanted to say that it did not have any evidence of Bin Laden’s whereabouts and, secondly, that it did not have information about the military operation in Abbotabad.” Thus it becomes clear from Karaman Khan’s remarks that the government and intelligence services failed in two things: The first is their failure to pinpoint Bin Laden’s whereabouts and the second is their failure to discover the special American forces’ helicopters which flew at low altitude from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s territories.
But residents of the town of Bilal in Abbotabad area where the house in which Bin Laden was killed is located talked about a totally different version. A woman from Abbotabad told Asharq Al-Awsat that two helicopters flying at low altitude opened fire on the compound at 0035 hours, Sunday night, and the Pakistani vehicles and army encircled and surrounded the area five minutes after the start of the operation.
Prominent defense analyst Aisha Siddiqi says: “As it is obvious from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry’s confused statements, Islamabad cannot declare openly its participation in the killing of (Al-Qaeda’s) leader for fear of angering the organization’s supporters and the jihadist groups loyal to it inside the country. The fact is that Osama Bin Laden’s presence for a long time near the Pakistani capital without being discovered will give many the reasons for asserting their accusations by saying (have we not said this repeatedly).”
The Pakistani Army cordoned off the residential compound where Bin Laden lived and handed it over to the local police and it remained in their hands for 24 hours.
Elements from the Pakistani Army were the first to arrive at the scene. In an exclusive statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, authoritative sources in the Pakistani Government said the army and intelligence were holding the corpses of Bin Laden’s three guards. One of Bin Laden’s sons is believed to have been killed in the attack and his corpse is held by the Pakistani authorities. It is also believed that the two women (probably Bin Laden’s wives) and a young girl (could be his daughter) were slightly injured and are detained by the Pakistani authorities. The residents of the area are still stupefied since they did not believe that the most dangerous terrorist in the world had lived among them for more than 10 months. A woman from Abbotabad says: “This is total drivel and Western propaganda. Abbotabad is the quietest of all Pakistan’s cities.”