File:Osama bin Laden hideout-en.svg

Diagram of the compound

Allegations of a support system in Pakistan for Osama bin Laden have been made both before and after Osama bin Laden was found living in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and was killed by a team of United States Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011.

The compound itself was located just half a mile from Pakistan’s premier military training academy in Abbottabad.[1]

In the aftermath of bin Laden's capture and death, U.S. President Barack Obama asked Pakistan to investigate the network that sustained bin Laden.[2] "We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan," Obama said in a "60 Minutes" interview with CBS news. He also added that U.S. was not "sure" "know who or what that support network was."[3][2] In addition to this, in an interview to Time magazine, CIA Director Leon Panetta stated that U.S. officials did not alert Pakistani counterparts to the raid because they feared the terrorist leader would be warned.

According to Fred Burton, Vice-president of The global intelligence firm (Stratfor), officials of ISI, Pakistani military, along with one retired Pakistani military general, had knowledge of the arrangements made for Bin laden and safe house. Bin Laden's compound was razed that day at his Abbottabad safe house.[4]

David Ignatius in Washington post referred to the claim of the former ISI chief General Ziauddin Butt that the Abbottabad compound was used by Intelligence Bureau and noted that a report in the Pakistani press in December had quoted him as saying that Osama's stay at Abbottabad was arranged by Brigadier (retired) Ijaz Shah, head of the Intelligence Bureau during 2004-2008, on Musharraf's orders.[5]

Allegations[edit | edit source]

"It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets."

—CIA Chief Leon Panetta [6]

Numerous allegations were made that the government of Pakistan shielded bin Laden.

Critics cited the very close proximity (800 yards) of bin Laden's heavily fortified compound (a custom-built luxury complex) to the Pakistan Military Academy, Pakistan's "West Point",[4] and that the U.S. chose not to notify Pakistani authorities before the operation, and the alleged double standards of Pakistan regarding the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. U.S. government files leaked by Wikileaks disclosed that American diplomats were told that Pakistani security services were tipping off bin Laden every time U.S. forces approached. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also helped smuggle al Qaeda militants into Afghanistan to fight NATO troops. According to the leaked files, in December 2009, the government of Tajikistan had told U.S. officials that many in Pakistan were aware of bin Laden's whereabouts.

The CIA Director Leon Panetta stated that Pakistan was "either involved or incompetent."[3]

“It is inconceivable that bin Laden did not have support system in the country that allowed him to remain there for extended period of time,”

—Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor, John O. Brennan[7]

However, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. said both countries "cooperated in making sure" that the operation leading to bin Laden's death was "successful", and that President Obama called and thanked President Zardari for his cooperation. A Pakistani official, speaking anonymously, said "We assisted only in terms of authorization of the helicopter flights in our airspace" and that "we did not want anything to do with such an operation in case something went wrong."[8][9]

U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said "This is going to be a time of real pressure on Pakistan to basically prove to us that they didn’t know that bin Laden was there". John O. Brennan, Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor, said that it was inconceivable that bin Laden did not have support from within Pakistan. He further stated: "People have been referring to this as hiding in plain sight. We are looking at how he was able to hide out there for so long." Senator Dianne Feinstein said that "it's hard for me to understand how the Pakistanis ... would not know what was going on inside the compound", and that top Pakistan officials may be "walking both sides of the street." Senator Lindsey Graham questioned, "How could [bin Laden] be in such a compound without being noticed?", raising suspicions that Pakistan was either uncommitted in the fight against Islamist militants or was actively sheltering them while pledging to fight them. A Pakistani intelligence official said that they had passed on raw phone tap data to U.S. that led to the operation, but had failed to analyze this data themselves. Carl Levin who is chairman United States Senate Committee on Armed Services stated that he believes Pakistani officials knew the location of bin Laden and had "no doubt" they also know the location of other senior al-Qaeda operatives.[10] He said Pakistan's intelligence and army have "got a lot of explaining to do," given that bin Laden was holed up in such a large house with surrounding buildings, the fact that its residents took the unusual step of burning their garbage and avoiding any trash collection.[11] He further stated, "It's hard to imagine that the military or police did not have any ideas what was going on inside of that."[11] After the raid, the U.S. asked that Pakistan identify its top intelligence operatives as it tried to establish if any of them had contact with bin Laden in the last few years.[12]

"Bin Laden was the ‘Golden Goose’ that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose. Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the Goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions"

Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Pakistani nuclear physicist, essayist and political-defence analyst, in The Express Tribune [13]

Mosharraf Zaidi, a leading Pakistani columnist, stated, "It seems deeply improbable that bin Laden could have been where he was killed without the knowledge of some parts of the Pakistani state."[14]

WikiLeaks had revealed that a US diplomatic dispatch told the Americans that "many" inside Pakistan knew where bin Laden was. The document stated that "In Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden wasn't an invisible man, and many knew his whereabouts in North Waziristan, but whenever security forces attempted a raid on his hideouts, the enemy received warning of their approach from sources in the security forces."[15]

Indian Minister for Home Affairs P. Chidambaram said that bin Laden hiding "deep inside" Pakistan was a matter of grave concern for India, and showed that "many of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, including the controllers and the handlers of the terrorists who actually carried out the attack, continue to be sheltered in Pakistan". He called on Pakistan to arrest them.[16]

The Globe and Mail reported local police saying that the compound belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen, a militant group supported by ISI which is fighting Indian forces in Kashmir.[17]

According to a police report dated Jan. 17, 2012 Osama Bin Laden’s youngest wife Amal Ahmad Abdul Fatah claims that except for the eight or nine months just after 9/11, Laden skipped from home to home in Peshawar, Swat and Haripur, Pakistan before settling in Abbottabad for about the last six years of his life.[18]

Pakistan's denial[edit | edit source]

In a 2005 interview, the then-president Musharraf emphatically denied bin Laden was in Pakistan, stating "One thing is very sure, let me assure you, that we are not going to hide him for a rainy day and then release him to take advantage."[19]

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari denied that his country's security forces may have sheltered Osama bin Laden,[20][21] and called any supposed support for bin Laden by the Pakistani government "baseless speculation." The Pakistani foreign office issued a statement that "categorically denies" media reports that Pakistan's leadership, "civil as well as military, had any prior knowledge of the U.S. operation against Osama bin Laden."[22]

Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf denied that officials in his country were responsible, calling bin Laden's presence in Pakistan a "blunder". Musharraf said instead that there was a possibility that rogue lower-level members of Pakistan's intelligence and military may have had knowledge of bin Laden's location. He conceded they might have known during the last year of his presidency six years ago, and said there ought to be an investigation.

"It's really appalling that he was there and nobody knew. I'm certainly appalled that I didn't know and that intelligence people from that time onward didn't know for 6 years that he was inside. And there is no excuse for this great, massive slip-up. And an investigation is in order and people must be punished for this big lapse."
"As a policy, the army and the ISI fighting terrorism and extremism, al Qaeda, Taliban. But rogue element within is a possibility," he said.[23]

The head of Pakistan's powerful Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieut. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, conceded that Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan had been an "intelligence failure" but denied the ISI could have had any role in hiding Bin Laden. "If we had shielded Osama bin Laden, why would we have killed and arrested so many al-Qaeda leaders?" he stated "Would we have hidden such a large target in such an exposed area? Without any guards or escape route?"[24]

Ongoing actions by Pakistan[edit | edit source]

Regardless of Pakistan's claims about their previous conduct, many outside observers have raised ongoing concerns that most of the people jailed by them since Bin Laden's killing have been those who were trying to help capture him, rather than those who helped shield him.[25][5]

One such incident would be when Dr. Afridi who assisted the CIA in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, was arrested several weeks after the killing of bin Laden. A Pakistani court imposed a 33-year sentence Wednesday on the doctor. The doctor was eventually tried under a tribal judicial system that denies the accused the right to have an attorney or to present evidence. According to Washington post, the Doctor could have received the death penalty if he had been tried under normal Pakistani law.[5]

Statements from other countries[edit | edit source]

  • Template:Country data Afghanistan : Defense ministry spokesman said that ISI must have known that bin Laden was in Abbottabad prior to the U.S. killing him.[26] The former chief of Afghan Intelligence, Amrullah Saleh, said he had told Pervez Musharraf in 2007 that bin Laden was hiding near Abbottabad, but Musharraf angrily shot down his claim.[27]
  • 22x20px Australia : Prime Minister Julia Gillard on May 3, 2011 said bin Laden "absolutely" had a support network in Pakistan.[28]
  • 22x20px India : Minister for Home Affairs, P. Chidambaram said that bin Laden hiding "deep inside" Pakistan was a matter of grave concern for India, and showed that "many of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, including the controllers and the handlers of the terrorists who actually carried out the attack, continue to be sheltered in Pakistan". He also called on Pakistan to arrest them.[29]
  • 22x20px France : Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said “I find it a little difficult to imagine that the presence of someone like bin Laden in a big compound in a relatively small town, even if located at 80 km from the center of Islamabad, could go completely unnoticed. [...]Pakistan’s position [...] lacks clarity in our view, I hope that we will have more clarity.”[30]
  • Template:Country data Tajikistan : According to U.S. documents leaked by Wikileaks in December 2009, the Government of Tajikistan had warned the U.S. that efforts to apprehend bin Laden were being thwarted by Pakistani intelligence.[31]
  • 22x20px United Kingdom : Prime Minister David Cameron stated that bin Laden must have had a support network in Pakistan.[32] Pakistani-born British MP Khalid Mahmood stated that he was "flabbergasted and shocked" after he learned that bin Laden was living in a city with thousands of Pakistani troops, reviving questions about alleged links between al-Qaeda and elements in Pakistan's security forces.[33]

Impact on U.S.-Pakistan relations[edit | edit source]

The U.S. suspended about a third of its $2.7 billion annual defense aid to Pakistan.[34]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sears, Neil; Shipman, Tim (May 8, 2011). "Osama Bin Laden dead: Obama says compound raid was 'longest 40 minutes of my life' | Mail Online". London: Retrieved May 12, 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "US presses Pakistan on Bin Laden". BBC. May 8, 2011. Archived from the original on 9 May 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Pakistan questions need answers, top Obama aide says". CNN. May 20, 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "REVEALED! The truth behind Osama's ISI connection". Rediff News. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Pakistan and Osama bin Laden". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 August 2012.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Wpost" defined multiple times with different content
  6. "CIA Chief: Pakistan Would Have Jeopardized Operation", Time, May 3, 2011, archived from the original on 4 May 2011,, retrieved May 5, 2011 
  7. "Inconceivable that Osama had no support system in Pakistan: U.S.". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  8. "U.S. troops kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan". CNN. May 2, 2011. Archived from the original on 5 May 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  9. Walsh, Nick Paton (May 2, 2011). "Official: Pakistan had but didn't probe data that helped make raid". CNN. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  10. "Pakistan government knew where Osama was: Carl Levin". The Express Tribune. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Pakistan's president denies harboring bin Laden". Retrieved May 12, 2011. 
  12. Cooper, Helene (May 6, 2011). "Probing Link to Bin Laden, U.S. Tells Pakistan to Name Agents". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  13. The curious case of Osama bin Laden, May 3, 2011, archived from the original on 6 May 2011,, retrieved May 10, 2011 
  14. "Osama bin Laden killed near Pakistan's West Point. Was he really hidden?". The Christian Science Monitor. 
  15. "Pak security always tipped off Osama". Daily Star. 
  16. Wright, Tom (May 2, 2011). "India Uses Osama Death to Pressure Pakistan". The Wall Street Journal. 
  17. Smith, Graeme (May 3, 2011). "Bin Laden given haven by militants linked to Pakistani security forces". The Globe and Mail (Canada). Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  18. "Osama Bin Laden hid in Pakistan, not caves, for decade says wife". Truth Dive. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  19. Correspondent: Steve Kroft, Producer: Carol Kopp (September 25, 2005). "The Search For Bin Laden". 60 Minutes. CBS. Retrieved May 3, 2011. 
  20. Toosi, Nahal (September 11, 2001). "The Canadian Press: Pakistan's president dismisses suspicions that his country was sheltering bin Laden". Retrieved May 3, 2011. 
  21. Your name:. "Zardari defends Pakistan over bin Laden intel". Emirates 24/7. Retrieved May 3, 2011. 
  22. Brian Ross. "Osama Bin Laden Killed: U.S. Intelligence Probes Possible Pakistani Support System". ABC. 
  23. Correspondent: Christopher Cuomo, Producer: Eamon McNiff (May 11, 2011). "Musharraf: If U.S. Alienates Pakistan, They Will "Lose"". ABC World News. ABC. Retrieved May 13, 2011. 
  24. "Berating General Pasha: Pakistan's Spy Chief Gets a Tongue-Lashing". Yahoo!. 
  25. "Pakistan jails doctor who helped CIA find Bin Laden". BBC. 
  26. "Afghanistan: Pakistan Must Have Known bin Laden Was Living in Abbottabad". Voice of America. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  27. Boone, Jon (May 5, 2011). "Osama bin Laden death: Afghanistan 'had Abbottabad lead four years ago'". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  28. "Osama bin Laden has support network in Pakistan: Australian PM". May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2011. 
  29. Wright, Tom (May 2, 2011). "India Uses Osama Death to Pressure Pakistan". The Wall Street Journal. 
  30. "Interview lors de la journée de la liberté de la presse [Interview during the press freedom day]" (in French). French Foreign Ministry. May 3, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2011. 
  31. Ross, Tim (May 2, 2011). "WikiLeaks: Osama bin Laden 'protected' by Pakistani security". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  32. Watt, Nicholas (May 3, 2011). "Osama bin Laden must have had support network in Pakistan – Cameron". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  33. Woodcock, Andrew (May 2, 2011). "MP 'shocked' at bin Laden Pakistan discovery". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 4, 2011. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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