CIA director: Pakistan ‘might alert the targets … jeopardize the mission’ to kill Osama bin Laden

CIA Director Leon Panetta today issued perhaps the most damning indictment of Pakistan since the May 1 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. Pakistan simply could not be trusted to not warn bin Laden of the pending raid, and thus was excluded from the operation. TIME’s Swampland reports:

In his first interview since commanding the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, CIA chief Leon Panetta tells TIME that U.S. officials feared that Pakistan could have undermined the operation by leaking word to its targets. Long before Panetta ordered Vice Admiral William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Forces Command, to undertake the mission at 1:22 p.m. on Friday, the CIA had been gaming out how to structure the raid. Months prior, the U.S. had considered expanding the assault to include coordination with other countries, notably Pakistan. But the CIA ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta says.

Keep in mind two things: 1) US contact with Pakistan on any raid to kill/capture bin Laden would occur at the highest level of their military and intelligence services; 2) In order for Pakistani officials to warn bin Laden, they’d have to know where he was.

Note that this tracks what an intelligence official told LWJ on the night of the raid that killed bin Laden:

A US intelligence official with knowledge of the raid told The Long War Journal that Pakistan, specifically its Inter-Services Intelligence agency, “could not be trusted” with operational details of the raid.

Earlier today, the Pakistani government released a statement that touted its steadfastness in cooperating with the US in counterterrorism operations. But the reality is that powerful elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services likely were complicit in hiding bin Laden.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.



  • Charu says:

    Is this more flim-flam to help the Pakistani military high command evade popular anger if it came out that they sold-out bin Laden, or will there be serious consequences meted out to Pakistan if it is true that they didn’t know about the operation and were (obviously) complicit in sheltering him?

  • Charu says:

    Here’s what the Chinese had to say, in a link provided in LWJ:
    “But China is still worried there are elements within the Pakistani government that knew about the operations and might have cut a deal with the Americans.
    “I believe the Pakistan government did not know about the US operation. But if some people in it knew, it is a dangerous matter. The Pakistan government can even be seized by dangerous groups if such a thing actually happened,” (said) Hu Shisheng, deputy director in the State-run Institute of South and Southeast Asian Studies”

  • Jimmy says:

    If you believe that the US is ‘finally’ going to act tough on Pakistan, I believe you will be sadly mistaken. Pakistan’s double-game has been exposed atleast twice before (1993 and 2001). Both times only the ISI head was sacked and once again Pakistan and US became best of friends, with free flow of weapons and dollars. Read this piece from an Indian intelligence expert:
    Also in this following piece, another Indian expert says that the US will never let go of Pakistan. Why? Because it is an important Islamic country, it is the gateway to Central Asian gas and oil, it is geographically close to Iran, China and India and its mercanaries are helping protect US backed dictators in oil rich Sunni middle east.
    Pakistan is indispensable to the US! So any amount of back-stabbing by Pakistan will NOT be met with harsh response from the US. Don’t get your hopes up 🙁

  • jimmy says:

    all i knw, is it is another cult…..


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram