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Pakistani complicity in sheltering Osama bin Laden is evident



As the details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden begin to emerge, one thing is clear: the powers that be in Pakistan - its military and intelligence services - must have known for some time where the terror leader was hiding from the US and the rest of the Coalition. Below are some of the key indicators that explain how Pakistan is complicit in sheltering bin Laden.

The location:

Abbottabad is not a remote area in Pakistan's tribal regions. The city lies just 30 miles north of the Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, and its sister city, Rawalpindi, which serves as the headquarters and garrison city of Pakistan's powerful military. Abbottabad is located in the settled district with the same name in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, far from the tribal areas. The Afghan-Pakistani border is 125 miles to the west. The city has a hospital and an airport.

Abbotabad also hosts the headquarters of a Pakistani Army division. Bin Laden's mansion is said to be located in an affluent area of the city, where numerous retired military and intelligence officials reside. And the mansion is said to be only a few hundred yards away from an Army military academy.

The mansion:

The mansion in which bin Laden and family members were sheltered wasn't located on the outskirts of Abbottabad, tucked away from prying eyes. The mansion was located in the heart of the city. It is said to have cost more than $1 million dollars to build, and was reportedly constructed in 2005. The mansion has been described as a fortress, with 15-foot-high outer walls, and seven-foot-high walls on the terraces. A complex such as this would clearly have caught the eye of Pakistani officials.

The intel and the raid:

The US has been aware of the location of bin Laden's mansion since last summer. It is next to impossible to believe that while US intelligence was aware of the location of bin Laden's hideout, Pakistan's intelligence services, with their vast links to terrorist groups, were not. The US' intelligence on the mansion was so good that it built a mock-up of the location, and the assault force of SEALs trained at it for weeks to hone their skills.

The fact that the US kept the Pakistani government, military, and intelligence services out of the loop shows that the US believed it could not trust Pakistan to participate in the operation. According to reports, as well as my own sources, the Pakistanis were not informed that an operation targeting bin Laden was being executed until it was well underway. And even then, Pakistan was not made aware of the location of the raid and was told to not get in the way of the US operation. If the US was confident that Pakistan was sincere about aiding in the capture or killing of bin Laden, it would have been easier and far less risky to have Pakistani forces carry out the operation in conjunction with US military and CIA personnel.

A Pakistani official's statements on the raid make it clear that Pakistan knew where bin Laden was, but did not act. In an interview with CNN, Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to the Untied Kingdom, actually said that Pakistan was "monitoring" bin Laden's location but the US beat Pakistan to the punch and launched the raid.

"We were monitoring him and the Americans were monitoring him," Hasan said. "But the Americans got to knowing where he was first and that is why they struck at him precisely."

Later in the interview, Hasan said that "Pakistan had been keeping certain areas monitored, and it knew where he was."

So, according to Hasan, Pakistani officials knew of bin Laden's location, and yet they never launched a raid to detain or kill bin Laden. Somehow, the US was able to outmaneuver the Pakistani security forces on their own turf.

Osama's confidence in his security

While it is next to impossible to know the calculations made by bin Laden to shelter in a Pakistani city, it isn't a stretch to say that he was confident enough to live in Abbottabad for an extended period of time because he felt that he, and his family, would be safe. Since his ouster from Sudan in 1996, bin Laden has been wary about entrusting his personal security to states. Yet he had to believe that there was little to no risk in sheltering in a city with a heavy military presence in a compound that gave all indications it housed a very important person. Bin Laden or his handlers had to be confident that the mansion would not be disturbed by Pakistan's military and intelligence services. And to be confident, they must have had assurances that bin Laden would not be touched by Pakistani security forces.



READER COMMENTS: "Pakistani complicity in sheltering Osama bin Laden is evident"

Posted by Spooky at May 2, 2011 11:34 AM ET:

Musharraf should be arrested. Easiest of those complicit to get to.

Posted by Steve E. at May 2, 2011 12:39 PM ET:

The Untied Kingdom?

We're celebrating just as much on this side of the pond as our American cousins.

Congratulations to the US Armed Forces and President Obama.

Tonight, he sleeps with the fishes!!

Posted by Sumit at May 2, 2011 12:40 PM ET:

@Spooky

Yes, he is in London well within US reach. He always said OBL was not in Pakistan where his wife kept asking who is the guy hiding in our basement.

Posted by Girish at May 2, 2011 12:42 PM ET:

Spot on. As always, a complete analysis by LWJ

Posted by ramizq at May 2, 2011 1:23 PM ET:

Obama - "But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people."

Yes the US forces acted within Pakistan but not without ISI knowledge. Leads to Osama were generated by the ISI. There can be no covert operation on Pakistani soil in a city like abbotabad without ISI knowledge especially when 99% of all american forces dont even roam outside the diplomatic enclave. The CIA is nothing but extremely limited to information based on human intelligence through ISI help. There are no alternative theories. The surgical drone strikes are serve a proof on the grand scheme of things.

Posted by steve m at May 2, 2011 1:30 PM ET:

I wonder if Raymond Davis was involved in this at all?

Posted by Soccer at May 2, 2011 1:41 PM ET:

"Pakistan" is a joke, a false state created by the Punjabi elite for their own geopolitical purposes.

People who read the LWJ are starting to wake up more and more to this failed state.

I mean, COME ON - he was in Northern Pakistan, north of Islamabad - he lived in a 1 million dollar fortified lavish compound with barbed wire at the top. He had been living there for a while, and he was surrounded by hospitals, universities, stores, other houses as well as a military academy. A massive military academy was very close to where he lived, probably on guard to protect him. Far away from Waziristan and the tribal areas where the jihadi cannon fodder reside. Protected from drones and military offensives.

I think at this point, anyone with an IQ above room temperature is starting to put two and two together. If this doesn't prove that he was in the lap of the ISI and the Pakistani Army, then I just don't know what else on this Earth could.

Posted by Paul D at May 2, 2011 1:43 PM ET:

Perv has been on TV in UK with the right hump about the attack.

I bet it was him who housed OBL!

Posted by Bungo at May 2, 2011 1:46 PM ET:

The trove of intelligence vacuumed up by Seal Team Six at the site (computers, cell phones, papers etc.) will turn up all sorts of interesting details about UBLs connections to Pak military/ISI. I'll bet a lot of Paks are extremely nervous right about now.

Posted by tunde at May 2, 2011 1:53 PM ET:

i was expecting him to die in a hail of lead surrounded by his lashkar al zil.
jsoc 1-zil nil.

Posted by Charley at May 2, 2011 1:55 PM ET:

>Pakistan - its military and intelligence services - must have known for some time where the terror leader was hiding from the US and the rest of the Coalition.

This makes the assumption that they did not hide him in the first place. It is evident that Pakistan has been involved in every move of OBL since Sudan, from his move to Afghanistan, to Tora Bora, to his relocation to Pakistan post 9/11.

Their Army doctors provided the kidney dialysis he needed from time to time, and the Abbotabad location has an AMC regiment, and their hospital.

Posted by OS at May 2, 2011 2:07 PM ET:

I also wonder if we pulled our guys out of the Pakistani air base that the drones were being flown from because we knew this was about to go down.

Posted by sm at May 2, 2011 3:00 PM ET:

Also, the NYT reported that OBL had just 3 males
as his protection. Must have been pretty confident
about his security.

Posted by Buddy at May 2, 2011 3:11 PM ET:

Much credit goes to President Bush, whose presidential directions for enhanced interrogations,led to this glorious moment.Mr.Obama. Man up and give the man his credit and your apology.

Posted by Fred Pisacane at May 2, 2011 3:45 PM ET:

Guys, could it be that certain elements w/i Pakistan helped? While it seems the first hint of the couriers were turned up at Gitmo I cannot see tracking them happening w/o some assistance from Pakistan.

Now, on the flip side maybe I just sunk my own argument as if the Pakistanis knew about the couriers, OBL would have been warned.

Convoluted and Byzantine jump right out at me when I think of the security situation in Pakistan

As to computers and other intelligence would we have announced so soon if there was a large take? But then again if we believed the Pakistanis knew where BL was the they probably know to warn Mullah Omar and the other leaders.
Fred

Posted by Gringo at May 2, 2011 3:48 PM ET:

Bungo:
The trove of intelligence vacuumed up by Seal Team Six at the site (computers, cell phones, papers etc.) will turn up all sorts of interesting details about UBLs connections to Pak military/ISI. I'll bet a lot of Paks are extremely nervous right about now.

I am reminded of the information culled from the laptops etc. found at the FARC encampment in Ecuador where Raul Reyes, the FARC #2, was killed in 2008. Colombia has been able to milk this information pretty well, to where Venezuela recently extradited FARC operative Joaquin Perez to Colombia when he got off a flight from Europe.


Similarly, we find Pakistan becoming more cooperative.

Or, we could bomb ISI headquarters and release a whole bunch of data culled from the Bin Laden mansion to justify doing so.

Posted by Mr T at May 2, 2011 4:10 PM ET:

Will there be a smoking gun found at the compound that directly implicates the ISI? We were not there for long so we may not have picked up all the Intel. Perhaps it was thought the Pstans can go in after and get the Intel. If so, any bets on their sanitizing it before we see it?

It does sound like we brought some Intel specialists to go through stuff whle others were busy shooting terrorists and keeping non combatants safe.

If he really felt so safe, perhaps he had some stuff lying around because it does seem he was actively coordinating plots instead of lying low in a cave somewhere.

We really need that proof to call the ISI on.

Also, we announced this very quickly. No time to round up the roaches before they scatter. I hope we got a few more since this.

Posted by Charu at May 2, 2011 4:12 PM ET:

Great commentary by LWJ. Add to this reports by Steve Coll (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/05/notes-on-the-death-of-osama-bin-laden.html#ixzz1LD7FnG6O) and Dexter Filkins (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/05/what-pakistan-knew-about-osama-bin-laden.html) in The New Yorker, and the collective views drip deep skepticism over Pakistan's innocence.

The Pakistanis probably never expected an airborne raid in their heartland, especially in a deeply military town that likely also houses some of their precious nukes. Their nervousness over the predator drone territory possibly extending into their safe houses in Punjab may explain why they have been recently pushing back hard against the drones.

It is surprising that OBL's mansion would stick out like a sore thumb in this manner, considering the state of spy satellite technology. You would think that he would have tried to be less conspicuous. Perhaps it only reflects how secure he felt that he was, cocooned by Pakistani military presence in Abbottabad. It worked for 10 years!

I think that a long belated shift in US perceptions on the trustworthiness of the Pakistani military and its ISI state-within-the state-within-the-state has finally led to this successful outcome. Nice going, Obama administration! While the Pakistanis were busy congratulating themselves on being so clever at playing the US for the fool, they failed to see that the US has virtually declared war on them and is using their own two-faced duplicitous behavior against them; daring them to resist these righteous incursions into their rogue state.

Posted by Peter B Spoorel at May 2, 2011 4:26 PM ET:

Whether Pakistani complicity is evident or not is quite simply a matter of speculation on your part. We have absolutely no way of knowing. We do know, however, that such complicity would violate the fundamental law of secrecy. To wit, the more more people you let in on a secret, the greater the chance of the secret being discovered. With a twenty-five million dollar bounty on one's head in a nation filled to overflowing with beggars and thieves, I would think that discretion would be the better part of valour. Just an observation from a very old student of human folly.

Posted by Peter B Spoorel at May 2, 2011 4:29 PM ET:

Whether Pakistani complicity is evident or not is quite simply a matter of speculation on your part. We have absolutely no way of knowing. We do know, however, that such complicity would violate the fundamental law of secrecy. To wit, the more more people you let in on a secret, the greater the chance of the secret being discovered. With a twenty-five million dollar bounty on one's head in a nation filled to overflowing with beggars and thieves, I would think that discretion would be the better part of valour. Just an observation from a very old student of human folly.

Posted by NEIL DUNWALD at May 2, 2011 5:39 PM ET:

Your analysis has some merit but I would caution that incompetence by one party often leads to allegations of conspiracy. For example,

Canadian and US forces both visited the compound used to facilitate the recent Saraposa escape. It's hard to believe that nobody knew. There was undoubtedly help from some of the guards inside as there were no locked cells, but I find it hard to believe that all Canadians, US soldiers, and Afghan soldiers conspired to hide the plot.

In the OBL case, Al Queda paying certain people to look the other way is very believable but to say that the police, military, ISI, or government as a whole knew about secreting OBL is a very big stretch.

Posted by honjj at May 2, 2011 5:57 PM ET:

----------------
Yes the US forces acted within Pakistan but not without ISI knowledge. Leads to Osama were generated by the ISI.
------------------------

this is false and misleading, actually it is just completely false. there are Many many elements in the ISI that are complicit with terrorist groups, they could not and were not trusted. that is a guarantee.

Pakistan is it's own worst enemy, they claim to be fighting terrorism, but let these idiots set up compounds in SWA and NWA, so that they can kill Pakistanis.

the terrorists groups walk around and wave at Pakistani troops while holding peace agreements, then at night these idiots go out to help kill women and children in Pakistani markets with 12 year old suicide bombers...

the idiots in charge in Pakistan deserve their home grown terrorists.

Posted by Shimron Issachar at May 2, 2011 6:07 PM ET:

Pakistan is a place where many people do not ask a lot of questions about what's happening around them. They assume someone else probably knows, and that its dangerous to ask questions. I that environment, only the local intelligence/police official knew. or he ask his superior abut it, and was told to leave it alone.
Somebody got paid, but the knowledge of who was there was not widespread.

It could have been a leader from 100 different militias and groups, as far as the locals knew.

It has always been in Pakistan's best interest to have an unstable Afghanistan, because if the Taliban tribes are focused on their own battles, they cannot turn on Pakistan.

Therefore, who will the US "punish" in this matter? Pakistan is what it is. Both the US and Pakistan are doing what they need to do.

If it is impractical to kill a scorpion, live next to it with respect and caution, and Don't expect it to act like a puppy

Posted by Sneaky Pete at May 2, 2011 6:17 PM ET:

We pushed Osama out of Ahfgan space,(we got within 2K of his lair once) They recovered doc's in hasty retreat from cave(He's a record keeper). We knew his family was in Iran(but not him),he went to Paki.(it was....SOCOM knew) It was only a matter of time....there is unk. number of pers. in Paki. that are operators/w assets. They knew about the compound years ago,...watched.... and dev. intel from courier that they got name of from Khalid,...took a while to reconnect and get real name of courier,... then he led them to it. A classic go slow develop Intel Op. Compound was under surv.,....for a long,....long, time until hit.
Mission was too critical for known collaboraters(ISI) with indig. in sympathy with target.
Practice was conducted like the Son Tay raid. They wanted his doc.'s, Comp's and uplink Sat phones, as he keeps records,(that's why no missile attack) we now have a treasure trove after the sweep, that's why it took 40 min.(plus exfil prob.) instead of 15 min. Great job Team.
Can't trust Paki's. All know who ISI is, since day 1. (further comments reserved)

Posted by John Weaver at May 2, 2011 6:19 PM ET:

Osama was a really family man. In his final moments it was reported that his wife was used as a shield. What a man!

Posted by davidp at May 2, 2011 6:50 PM ET:

Did OBL's mansion "stick out like a sore thumb" or are similar compounds common in this area ? I can see that building something like this in a sparsely populated area would raise questions, but I can also see retired wealthy officers (wealth often from corruption) and other rich people building major secure compounds to keep out the thieves, terrorists and taliban - style enforcers.

I agree with Peter B Spoorel that bin Laden would do his best to not let anyone know he was there. I also agree with Shimron Issachar "it's dangerous to ask questions" there and people will have been persuaded to look the other way / leave it alone, without knowing who was there.

Posted by Arjuna at May 2, 2011 8:19 PM ET:

Gen (ret'd) Hamid Gul, ex-ISI Head, on UBL's capture interviewed on As It Happens (Canadian radio program):

"He fought and stood his ground. He fought like a brave man. His son was also martyred."

"Brave man," hiding behind his wife?
Who is Hamid Gul kidding?
Why is he still free?

Posted by Arjuna at May 2, 2011 9:29 PM ET:

Correction. Maybe he did die with his chappals on... how did Hamid Gul know this?

--Arjuna (The Archer)

From the Australian Daily Telegraph:

The footage of the battle in Bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout – relayed to the White House by satellite – was initially said to show one of his wives acting as a human shield to protect him as he blasted away with an AK47 assault rifle.

However later a White House official said those reports were wrong, and the woman who died with three other men, including one of Bin Laden's sons, was not the terrorist's wife.

The official said Bin Laden's wife was injured, however she had not been used as a human shield by the al Qaeda leader.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/us-wanted-osama-bin-laden-alive-and-didnt-tell-pakistan-about-the-raid-questions-how-he-lived-in-plain-sight/story-e6freuy9-1226048823370

Posted by toirama at May 2, 2011 10:46 PM ET:

Benzir Bhutto cited retired military / ISI officers as those who were out to kill her and possibly involved in AQ / terror support. Abbotabad is a well known retirement spot for military higher ups, as well as hosting the academy, barracks, etc. Pakistans military is known as a state within a state, and like the mafia, once you're in, you're in for life. Its likely that Pakistan's government is kept in the dark by the ISI, and that there is a powerful cabal of retired officers, who were involved in the anti- soviet jihad in A'stan, who were protecting UBL in the town.

Posted by DrMack at May 2, 2011 10:50 PM ET:

The drone campaign has forced the HVTs to flee the countryside where their movements are easily tracked by remote sensing. By forcing them into urban settings they consequentially come into contact with more people than they would outside of the cities. The more people they encounter, the more humint gets spontaneously generated and like ant trails that lead to the queen, we just follow the leads to the center of the nest. It takes a lot of time and patience but with the virtually limitless resources of a nation like the USA devoted to the task it is inevitable that the targets will all eventually be struck. One thing is certain: it sucks to be an HVT these days. We chased them out of the countryside and the mountain caves and into the cities where we have now demonstrated that they will never be safe. Make war on the United States and we guarantee that you will die. I can't wait until swarms of the Army's new autonomous and remotely operated combat robots get deployed in theater to hunt down these scum.

Posted by captainjohann at May 3, 2011 12:20 AM ET:

Was this operation advanced so that no leak happens from US side. Is Gates going anything to do with this and also relative silence of Hillary Clinton? Was May 10th 2010 statement of Hillary in which she blames Pakistan est of harboring Osama along with Mullah omar has anything to go by?

Posted by Stefan at May 3, 2011 12:42 AM ET:

The ISI sweeps the Captain Louis Renault Awards again.

Posted by Paul at May 3, 2011 1:18 AM ET:

In a parliamentary democracy, the normal policy in the event of a major failure by a ministry is to have the minister in charge resign and be replaced by someone else who cleans house and otherwise fixes the problems that caused the failure.

If this happens in Pakistan, I might believe that Pakistan's failure to deal with al Qaeda and UBL in particular was a failure of a well-intentioned, but incompetent government.

If no heads roll, then the government has basically admitted involvement in supporting and protecting terroirsts.

Posted by Civy at May 3, 2011 2:25 AM ET:

Horriblly cynical if Musharraf had OBL's compound built with US aid dollars, but I wouldn't put it past him.

Posted by Sameer Mehta at May 3, 2011 2:46 AM ET:

There is a old saying Whoever digs a hole for another, falls into it. Pakistan has supported many terrorist organisations for decades to use them for their narrow gains. India has suffered many pakistan sponsored attacks since 1989. In 1989 mullah in uniform Gen Zia-ul Haq conceived state policy of ‘bleeding India with thousand cuts’ by using terror and Musharraf took this aim forward. India despite having far superior military has shown remarkable restrain by not getting into a war with pakistan. It appealed to international community repeatedly to stop this cancer of terrorism emanating from pakistan. but nobody listened. After 9/11 world slowly started realizing that pakistan is main nurturing ground for terrorist all over world. But they still needed pakistan so they ignored this fact. Meanwhile pakistan kept getting billions of dollar's aid. Now hopefully whole world will admit what India was telling them since decades. If not god help this world.

Posted by Sameer Mehta at May 3, 2011 3:10 AM ET:

Also India stating the obvious Afghanistan's intelligence service has long believed that their Pakistani counterparts were harbouring Bin Laden. Last year, shortly after he was sacked by Karzai, Amrullah Saleh, the former head of the National Directorate of Security, claimed the ISI knew exactly where the al-Qaida leader was hiding.

Saleh told the Guardian newspaper of UK that the Pakistani state deliberately kept Bin Laden safe so that the west would ignore its nuclear programme. He said: "They built their nuclear bomb under the very watchful eyes of the west. How did they escape from that danger? By creating another crisis for you. If I make an analogy – you have a pain in your finger and pain in your kidney, which one [do] you go [for] first? They created a kidney pain for United States through Bin Laden and Taliban so you give up talking about the pain from the nuclear bomb."

Elements within the ISI have long been accused of sympathy for militant Islamism and of aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Kashmir as part of their regional rivalry with India.

Posted by Tim at May 3, 2011 5:23 AM ET:

The most important mystery (for us, common folk) is how the US helos managed to take off from their base, fly right across Pakistan, and enter a heavily militarized zone without the Pakistan Army, Air force getting any wind of it.

If we solve this muddle, we will know if Pakistan Army was in the loop about this whole operation and if they betrayed Bin Laden (Pak Army protected Bin Laden for the last 10 years to use as a bargaining chip is no secret and not-debatable).

The first scenario is that the US blocked/jammed all Pakistani radars and hence their helos traveled undetected. If this is the case, then Pakis played no cooperative role in this operation and Bin Laden was taken from under their noses and their dirty double-game has been exposed. This will cause further friction between Washington and Islamabad.

But I doubt this was the case. It is just impossible to imagine that a nuclear armed nation with a fairly powerful security aparatus was unable to intercept two Helos in their airspace for 30-45 minutes, not intervene in a huge firefight for another 40 minutes and then again allow the lone helo to fly back to its safe rendezvous for another 30 minutes.

That brings us to the second scenario: Pakistan betrayed Bin Laden by giving his exact co-ordinates to the US and letting the US eliminate him. Any negative fallout of finding Bin Laden deep within Pakistan can be handled later...anyhow the world already knew Pakistan's double game. The US would have persuaded Pakistan to give up Bin laden in order to bring a little upswing in public opinion for Obama's second term and to continue its wars in the world. If Pakistan has helped the US to locate Bin Laden, what will it get in return? Doles of cash, weapons (as usual) and no stinging criticism of Pakistan for hiding Bin Laden all this while. (Has any of the top US leadership condemned Pakistan for this? Not yet, except for a cursory "OBL had a support network in Pak". We all know that!!)

But I guess, the biggest chunk of meat that Pakistan will extract from the US for this betrayal of OBL would be diplomatic and military support against India. Expect a huge terror attack on India soon, especially relating to Kashmir, where recently India conducted free and fair local body elections participated by over 80% residents of the state. Pakistan has to act as the killjoy, and fast! And once again India will not be able to respond because Pakistan's own military strength magnified by its nukes, China, Islamic World and ofcourse, a hugely grateful America!!

So essentially, Bin Laden = Kashmir, good old barter system!

Which of these two scenarios are more believable?

Posted by naresh c. at May 3, 2011 7:16 AM ET:

LWJ's analysis is correct but I am quite sure that Americans will reward Pakistan with more F-16s and more billions of dollar. Pakistan isn't betraying US but it simply following it's own agenda. And that agenda is establishment of Islamic Caliphate with Pakistan as center and Osama and Haqqanis were/are pawns in the great game of ISI. I also watched Pakistani prime time talk shows. Most Pakistani analysts believe that Osama wasn't killed and then went to indulge in conspiracy theories. Now, it is time for more billions for Pakistan and more F-16s. Isn't that how US rewarded Pakistan after AQ Khan nuclear scandal?

Posted by msz10 at May 3, 2011 8:28 AM ET:

It makes sense why the Pakistanis were sheltering Osama. he was very useful for them in drumming up Islamic militant support for their struggle in Kashmir and also against the Northern Alliance which was being supported by the Indians. If you recall Osama was railing aginst the occupation of Kashmir.

Posted by villiger at May 3, 2011 12:36 PM ET:

Tim, interesting options.

While i have no time for belief in politicians, somehow i don't think Obama has reason to believe that he can swing things for the Pakis in Kashmir. Or that India would be a pushover on Kashmir. Or that the US would play into the hands of the Chinese at the risk of their own detriment.

How about that the helos took off from within Pak, Ghazi whatever, deceitfully. But went on to Af after mission complete with Kayani being informed that the deed was done, we're on our way out so don't get too excited. (Or, some other variant of deceit on the movement of the helos, eg having permission but for some benign or emergency reason, etc etc?)

If Pak was in cahoots, why not brand it as a joint mission at least after the event, instead of the divided PakGovMil looking like a right bunch of asses? Unable to make even a statement for over 6 hrs after Obama?

Posted by Johno at May 3, 2011 2:05 PM ET:

On such a great occasion it is important we maintain the facts. The house at Lat 34.10'8.94 N & Lon. 73.14'33.02 E is a typical sized large home in this part of the world. (Look for yourself) It is quite box in a box earthquake-proof in the Pathan style but the high walls are a feature thru-out this country. The construction is very poor and would cost a million ruppee rather than dollars. Check the naked rendering and exposed single brickwork. The outbuilding are very rudimentary.
The defending force consisted of four adult males and twenty odd women and children. Which is hard to believe but appears one of the few consistent bits of info.
The plot of land is unusually large say 8x bigger than normal but it is almost in open countryside rather "middle of a city". The lower profile would make more sense for a fugitive.
The 1200 m ASL may have contributed to the accident with the fully laden inbound chopper (take note HOGE).

If proof of official PAK duplicity is ever to be found the material gather by the Navy must be worth waiting for before wild speculation takes over.
The changing info from the White House is difficult to understand when you consider what a historical and emotional day it is for the US and the free world.

Posted by gary siebel at May 3, 2011 4:15 PM ET:

So much for my Zahedan, Iran, hideout theory. But I was right that he would have been safer there than in Pakistan.

Roggio analysis is pure speculation. Don't let bias get in the way of military logic. Where was the best place to hide The Scarlet Letter?

So what if some members of ISI knew something? You can bet that every person that courier talked to in the last five years is currently sweating bullets. His trail certainly didn't lead in just one direction.

You can also bet some members of our law enforcement have been bought off and or corrupted by the drug wars and warlords, but that doesn't make the entire organization corrupt.

Posted by Charu at May 3, 2011 4:57 PM ET:

@Tim, you have raised thought-provoking points there. There is something odd about the Pakistan military's silence following the operation, and how it was repeatedly stressed by our authorities that the Pakistanis knew nothing about the mission until it was all over. It is almost like the Pakistani military was being given cover in order to convince their public, who sympathize with OBL, that they had nothing to do with his detection and killing. They might prefer the humiliation of their air space being violated, which is no different from what routinely takes place with our drones, over the deep anger that would be stoked in Pakistan and especially among their jihadi assets were it were known that they had bartered OBL to the Americans.

Was there a quid pro quo established when Pasha visited the US, in that the ISI's treachery in sheltering OBL would be overlooked so long as there was a successful take down of the most wanted terrorist ahead of Obama's deadline for beginning to withdraw from Afghanistan? A May surprise to pave the way for a stand down in Afghanistan, which would be popular with Obama's democratic base, rather than a heavy-handed October surprise that would leave the public deeply cynical about the motivations? Could this explain the failure of the Pakistanis to "detect" the unauthorized flights into their heartland? Have the Pakistanis cashed in their main bartering chip in order to control events, not so much in Kashmir but in Afghanistan?

The events that follow may indicate if there was a backdoor deal. For example, if the Pakistanis get a light slap on the wrist for protecting OBL all these years, or if they get rewarded with their long-desired "strategic depth" (a euphemism for Pakistani colonization of Afghanistan) despite their obvious duplicity in prior dealings with us, then these wildly conspiratorial speculations would certainly take wing. We will just have to wait and see how matters unfold.......

Posted by blert at May 3, 2011 5:49 PM ET:

There is absolutely no basis for faith in any back-door deal.

As stated by the CIA: they figured ANY leakage would get back to OBL.

That means it was out of the question to use any Pakistani assistance.

To trade horses would blow the whole deal.

The commandos are entirely practiced in the art of faking out almost all radars.

I'd expect that the scrambled jets found that their radars were being jammed. That, and the fact that the helos could just land at will, caused the jet intercept to fail.

Electric power had been cut to the area. So the entire zone went dark.

Possible spoofing of Pakistani communications would permit the commandos plenty of time to do their duty while officials are woken up.

Because the area is loaded with high value assets and retired officers you're not going to find any pilots willing to just blaze away. They needed clearances -- which never came.

Rapid reaction forces in the area probably didn't exist. Remember what happened at Mumbai? India had to fly her commandos in from across the country. Pakistan operates the same way.

Posted by villiger at May 3, 2011 10:59 PM ET:

There's something fishy out here. And its more than just OBL's corpse.

Maybe there has been a you're either with us or you're against us moment in this last quarter.

Maybe there is some deal about Pak's role in Af post-withdrawal.

Maybe there's even some deal about Pak's nukes, given that it could be a US's chief unwritten, unstated objective in the region.

Maybe, the Pak economy is worse off than we know, and actually bankrupt. Fudged numbers, lack of cash-flow, despite US commitments.

I'm deliberately being incoherent for this is how it appears. There are more questions arising everyday than answers. Lots of bits out there for journalists to get between their teeth.

Operationally too:
- No clarity on helo movements
- Mysterious power outage in Abbotabad, altho that could be par for the course
- OBL one day has an AK-47, the next moment he was not even armed....

Ravi has an inteesting rant on his blog www.orbat.com

Posted by Sameer Mehta at May 4, 2011 2:50 AM ET:

Osama killed by bodyguard?’
TIMES NEWS NETWORK


Much like the audience it serves, the Pakistani press has been reporting the US strike with a volatile mixture of rejection of the US version, rage that a foreign power could operate on its soil and roguish acceptance it is best Americans take most of the credit.

Tuesday’s Dawn led the way by practically rejecting the approved American version of events in Abbottabad and headlining its report Was Osama killed by US troops or his own guard?
Dawn quotes an unnamed Pakistani official to indicate bin Laden was killed by one of his own guards in line with his will to avert his capture.

The official, whom Dawn describes as having visited the scene of the night assault soon after the US team left is quoted to say it doesn’t look like he could have been killed at point blank range from such a close angle, while offering resistance. Dawn was said to be first off the block with its alternative theory. But soon enough, it was followed by The Nation, which relayed an extraordinary account that included crucial aerial and ground support from Pakistan.

The Nation said the US helicopters came in after four helicopters of the Pakistan Army, which withdrew later. It also said that the Pakistan Army provided ground support.

Posted by Shadow at May 4, 2011 9:18 AM ET:

Ramziq is delusional. ISID has been and remains corrupt. Obviously, they don't know what is happening in their own country because they are too busy supporting the Taliban and other indigenious terrorist groups.

Posted by I M at May 5, 2011 1:18 AM ET:

There were 2 interesting pieces of info reported related to raid:
- Pakistan sent fighter jets to intercept returning helicopters but they were late
- (more important in my view) UBL house had DEDICATED FIBEROPTIC CONNECTION to the Internet (which is most likely an extremely exotic kind of technology in Abbotabad outside of top military and ISI locations); if so, how his internet traffic was routed - i.e who was an internet provider ?
Any thoughts?

Posted by Sumit at May 5, 2011 3:47 AM ET:

I have no doubt that Pakistan Army was protecting him, he was blank cheque for Pakistan. There are already talks of stopping free aid to Pakistan in US. Whoever has any doubts about how Helos make it to Paki heartland must know that this ingress was from west which is a soft border and doesn't has too much air surveillance, secondly all the Paki radars are US made. All US products comes with backdoor entry or kill switches. Also team like Seals has huge expertise in flying at tree level height to extended distance. They have highly advanced navigation to fly at very low height and I am sure US has mapped their radar to look for holes in the coverage.

And anyone who doubts about range of Helos etc they should think about US using classified Helos in this mission. Black hawk is very old product and what extended range they might have on the new helos no one will ever know.

Posted by PG at May 5, 2011 9:43 AM ET:

Laden's son trains at the Pakistan military academy that is why he had to stay so close to the academy. No other reason.

Posted by Pradeep at May 5, 2011 7:52 PM ET:

OBL was in need of regular medical facilities; he got all that in Abbotabad without ISI knowing it? Hey, pigs are flying!

Posted by Martin Zehr at May 9, 2011 12:21 PM ET:

Time to end all military aid, end any and all economic investment and begin to aid India more in the Kashmir conflict. The support that Pakistan gave to bin Laden is an aggressive and beligerrent act of war against the U.S. Pakistan aided a war criminal, covered up his whereabouts and deserves not one dollar from us.

"Pakistan is currently our 57th largest goods trading partner with $5.4 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2010. Goods exports totaled $1.9 billion; Goods imports totaled $3.5 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Pakistan was $1.6 billion in 2010."
"The five largest import categories in 2010 were: Miscellaneous Textile Products ($1.3 billion), Knit Apparel ($1.1 billion), Woven Apparel ($429 million), Cotton and Yarn and Fabric ($127 million), and Furniture and Bedding ($85 million)."

http://www.ustr.gov/countries-regions/south-central-asia/pakistan

Posted by DonM at May 10, 2011 9:37 PM ET:

There are indisputable facts that counter the ISI et al knew where OBL was etc. The US had the exact address for 9 months and when they launched they mission they did not have a confirmation of OBL at the address, just analytical probabilities. Clearly OBL hid well as we would have had innumerable technical assets attempting to nail down who was inside the compound.

That we did not involve the Pakistanis in the mission, and sourced the identification ourselves. The obvious lack of trust indicates we would not have identified the couriers to the ISI as well. In the months leading up to the mission no doubt the CIA ramped up presence to ascertain a confirmation, follow couriers to meetings, and exploit before hand courier contacts before they once and for all went after OBL for keeps. The Pakistanis no doubt detected an increased presence of CIA operatives contributing to the difficulties exacerbated over the last few months.

The ISI "contacts" with the Haqqani network (Al Qaeda linked) is most likely to have resulted in or reinforced a mutual non-aggression pact. Both have something to gain from that. After "terrorists" went after the President, Army and ISI HQs the Pakistanis certainly were not looking to expand their adversaries and clearly felt a level of vulnerability. The Haqqani crowd would not want to be fighting a two front war. The fact the Pakistanis have absolutely refused to go after the Haqqani network proves the point. But a non-aggression pact is not direct complicity in Haqqani operations or that of Al Qaeda prime. A major problem for our efforts in Afghanistan though it is.

What is missing from the article posing Pakistani complicity with OBL is any rationale for what they have to gain by such a high risk effort.

In any case since we have the treasure trove of intelligence material, there will be evidence if such a relationship existed.

Posted by DonM at May 10, 2011 10:00 PM ET:

There is great muddle over why the Pakistanis did not detect the US helos, and talk of conspiracies in wonderment. The most likely reason they did not react is they were not looking west for an air threat, nor posed any assets to respond from threats coming from that direction. Why would they deploy assets looking west? There is no threat to them from that direction. They are looking east to India for the air threat. Who ever heard the helos probably thought they were Pakistani, like all other helos flying in the area since forever.

Has anyone see reports of gunfire waking up the neighborhood? Ever heard of a silencer. Come on, stealth helos, the best of our special forces, and no silencers? The Pakistanis found out when we told them what we did.