Pakistan critical of ‘unilateral’ US raid that killed Osama bin Laden

The Pakistani government today expressed “deep concerns and reservations” over the May 1 raid by covert US soldiers and CIA operatives that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his safe house in Abbottabad. Pakistan also denied any involvement in sheltering the terror chief.

Pakistan released the statement after allegations were made that Pakistan’s military and intelligence service sheltered bin Laden, as well as other reports claiming that some elements of the Pakistani military aided in bin Laden’s death.

“[T]he Government of Pakistan expresses its deep concerns and reservations on the manner in which the Government of the United States carried out this operation without prior information or authorization from the Government of Pakistan,” the press release published on the website of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said.

“This event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule. The Government of Pakistan further affirms that such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the US.”

The Pakistani statement said that the death of bin Laden “is an important milestone in fight against terrorism and that the Government of Pakistan and its state institutions have been making serious efforts to bring him to justice,” but the government “categorically denies the media reports suggesting that its leadership, civil as well as military, had any prior knowledge of the US operation.”

Pakistan said the reports that US helicopters used Ghazi Airbase are “absolutely false and incorrect.” According to the Foreign Ministry’s statement, “[n]either any base or facility inside Pakistan was used by the US Forces, nor Pakistan Army provided [sic] any operational or logistic assistance to these operations conducted by the US Forces.”

Instead, Pakistan claimed that US helicopters “entered Pakistani airspace making use of blind spots in the radar coverage due to hilly terrain,” and used the terrain as well as the “latest technology and ‘nap of the earth’ flying techniques” to reach Abbottabad. The Pakistani Air Force “scrambled its jets within minutes” after receiving reports of helicopters over Abbottabad, as was confirmed by US counterterrorism chief John Brennan. But the Pakistani statement did not explain why Pakistani jets did not intercept and engage the helicopters, which were on station over bin Laden’s mansion for 40 minutes.

Pakistan has detained bin Laden’s wife, Amal al Sadah, who was wounded during the assault, and an undisclosed number of children are currently in custody. Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, and two al Qaeda couriers were killed during the raid.

“They [bin Laden’s family] are all in safe hands and being looked after in accordance with law,” the Pakistani government stated. “Some of them needing medical care are under treatment in the best possible facilities. As per policy, they will be handed over to their countries of origin.”

Pakistan also claimed that the Abbottabad area has “been under sharp focus of intelligence agencies since 2003.”

Abu Faraj al Libi, a top al Qaeda commander who managed couriers for bin Laden, was captured in Abbottabad in 2005; and Umar Patek, a senior Jemaah Islamiyah operative from Indonesia, was captured in Abbottabad earlier this year.

The statement stressed that the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan’s military intelligence branch, was working with the CIA on Abbottabad.

“As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009. The intelligence flow indicating some foreigners in the surroundings of Abbottabad, continued till mid April 2011.”

According to Pakistan, the CIA used its “superior technological assets’ and “exploited the intelligence leads given by us to identify and reach Osama bin Laden.”

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



  • Colleen Lowry says:

    I also have been wondering how the Americans could have been on the ground for 40 min. & not have the Pakistani’s engage with them during that time. I’m thinking that at a certain point the Americans made a call to someone in Pak. military & govt. to let them know they were at the compound and not to engage with them. Perhaps at the moment the Americans reached the compound is when they informed them? It seems incredible that it would take 40 min. for Pak. to scramble their forces (and if so, it reflects very poorly on them!) esp. since they have a base only a mile away. I think Pak. didn’t know about the operation until the moment the SEALS arrived at the compound-and then they must have been informed. Speculation. Anyone have thoughts on that?

  • jayc says:

    “The Government of Pakistan further affirms that such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the US.”
    Hate to sound like the neighborhood bully, but the US came in on your watch, on your turf, and took down a thug, without your consent, knowledge or approval.

  • Barry Larking says:

    More ducking and weaving in the headlights. Very hard to take these people seriously when they do not command loyalty outside of Islamabad and only inside through bribery.

  • eric says:

    The Pakistanis should just admit they play both sides. It’s so obvious. That’s why we used their base and their airspace. And that’s also why they harbored Bin Laden. Anyone would be smart to research the instability and corruption in the history of Pakistan.

  • Girish says:

    Any wonder why the foreign office is against US action? The US had to pay these leeches billions, not to find the low lives but to get the hell out of the way.

  • Dan Churchill says:

    “superior technological assets [of the U.S.]”
    Just a couple of things for Gen. Kayani and his disciples:
    Superior technology is a result of a society that looks for science to guide it.
    Bin Laden’s selection of Pakistan to stay put for long haul is result of a country that placed a 1,500 book as the guiding force/answer for everything.
    Bottom line: Pakistan will lose even the jihad, because even that would require science-based weaponry; nukes alone wouldn’t cut it.
    Fifteen thousand year-old experiment started in Saudi Arabia is finally starting to reach the end of the road.
    Some will be left holding the bag — Pakistanis, certainly among its most prominent.

  • Scott says:

    As touching why the Pakistanis did not intercept the helicopters:
    My hypothesis is that they did not want to trade their nuclear weapons for Osama Bin Laden’s body.
    I’d venture to make an uneducated guess that every U.S. jet with a working engine was on the board, and while some would be dedicated to force protection, others would be given over to retaliatory Nuke destruction.
    That thought is not orignal to me, I’ve read it somewhere…and it is simple enough.
    I have no way of knowing if that required someone within the U.S. Gov’t making the threat or if the Pakistani government could read the chess board on their own.
    Continuing the chess analogy; for the Pakistani’s to trade their Queen (Nukes) for something less…(Osama Bin Ladin’s body) opens their King (Claim to the Kashmire region) to Checkmate…India’s Queen (Nukes).

  • Bret says:

    I’m thinking that Pakistan knew Bin Laden was there but couldn’t engage our forces because it would make it look like they were protecting him.

  • Dhere says:

    I would like to echo Scott’s comments about force protection. Whatever grumbles we might have about Pakistan’s complicity with OBL’s living arrangements
    we can all be grateful that the phone calls to the Pakistani Army were answered by people with a chain of command.
    Otherwise some islamist pilot or brigade commander would be euolgized for his resistance and the resultant leveling of a major part of Abbottobad by the US Navy/Airforce.

  • Tom says:

    Its time to stop letting the duplicitous ISI and the ineffective Pakistani armed forces get in our way. Drop a large force in the NWFP and clear the area all the way across the border and eliminate anyone who has the slightest problem with it. A sweep of Quetta would hardly be needed at that point. It would nice to see the reaction by the melt-into-the-crowd Taliban. I hope we keep the momentum we’ve gained and end this thing.

  • Mr T says:

    A few things.
    If those helicopters were full of Intel from OBL and OBL was being helped by the ISI, I would think they would have a vested interest in bringing that chopper down before it got back to Afghanistan.
    If the US really didn’ t tell P-stan they were coming, then they had to plan the whole op to get in and to get out. That getting out would require a plan that did not rely on P-stan not responding. They must have planned on P-stans response. Its that last 5 minutes getting back across the border that are the most dangerous.
    The whole area went dark right before the operation. They supposedly have rolling blackouts there but this was the whole area. The US was probably responsible for that as it futher delayed response. They had no idea how long they would be there. How and who did that?
    They must not have planned for much time to gather intel. If they figured they could accomplish the mission with a 45 minute in/out time, they would not have a lot of time for collection in such a large complex. Destroying a helo also took extra time.
    I have no doubt the US could fly a couple of helos loaded with troops that far without being detected. Flying low, jamming radar, finding in between spots etc is what we do. Assaulting a lightly guarded compound would not take much. Bin Laden was not armed so he was not really expecting this or was ok with being captured.
    I can’t believe he could live there that long with little fear of this type of operation, especially when 2 terrorists couriers were captured in the town. He didn’t appear to have much preparation for this or they could have made it tough on our guys.
    I have zero faith that Pakistan is truthful about anything. I have very little faith my own government is telling everything or even telling the facts here. Some of that may be for security reasons but some falsehoods may be to provide cover for duplicity.
    We had to announce this too soon. We should be analysing this treasure trove and rounding up the roaches now. Since a lot are in Pakistan, we will need their help in doing so. Will they cooperate or will they tell the leaders like AZ and Omar what we know? Where do we go from here? It should be happening now. Time is of the essence.

  • gfgwgc says:

    40 minutes may have been a short enough time for the Pakistanis to react. Remember, the incursion was from its soft side and not from India.
    The Pakistani establishment, always dubious, have lost whatever shred of credibility that they ever had. From this point on, Pakistan is guilty unless they prove themselves innocent.

  • Charu says:

    Granted that Pakistan is conspiracy central, Peter Oborne of The Telegraph reported on some interesting observations from local Pakistanis:
    “Last night, however, a well-placed source with strong links to Pakistan’s security establishment put to me an alternative analysis. He said that bin Laden had been lured away from his mountain hideout with a promise of total security

  • Minnor says:

    Seems the long war is ending. Mullah Omar though equally young we can leave him and leave Afghanistan.

  • robbie says:

    Boo frickin hoo, somebody had to get the job done. Pakistan needs to make a decision to go all in or not with the US. Otherwise, the US needs to really rethink its relationship with Pakistan because all that aid money still doesn’t buy true cooperation. Pakistan continues to play on both sides of the battle. After the embarrassment of Bin Laden living in plan sight next to a military academy in Pakistan , I would tell Pakistan that they need to allow US and/or joint operations in the tribal areas so we can finish the job. Hit AQ and the Taliban hard at the beginning of the spring season while morale is low and there are leadership issues. The US should go for the KO punch now.

  • Civy says:

    That’s the most elaborate, insane plan of all. If they had him to move him, they could have turned him over to the US before building him a mansion
    6 years ago.
    By now we’d be long gone, and Pakistan’s ISI could have moved forward with their true agenda – the colonization of Afghanistan.
    I understand it’s an embarrassing time to be a citizen of Pakistan, but this goes beyond grasping at straws, this is pure delusion.

  • Paul D says:

    For from i have read the house was purposefully built five years ago especially for a HVT to be looked after by the ISI!He has lived there for 5 years without no one knowing LOL!
    OBL thought US would never attack a Military garrison town surrounded by Retired Generals,Sandhurst equivalent and Dr Khan.
    I wonder is Al Zawihiri and Mullah Omar are being moved at present to another safehouse!

  • steve m says:

    Must read interview with Mullah Nazir.

  • Ben Haraami says:

    I think a key thing to remember here is that Pakistan truly is a US ally. It is a tough public face because the US and India are also allies. A couple of handfuls of bad elements in the Pak military does not mean that the whole lot is bad.
    Their president is in a tough spot and his job is not enviable right now. He has a lot of spring cleaning to do.

  • steve m says:

    Hey Bill,
    Syed Saleem Shahzad has been reporting that bin laden had been traveling recently and meeting with other leaders. He also reported that bin laden had only been at that location for a short time and planned to leave in 10 days. I wanted to get your thoughts on this, why the conflicting reports? I have so many questions about what is really going on.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @Charu: Interesting post. Thanks!

  • ED B says:

    I think the key to the fog about the raid rest with the downed chopper. Looking at the pics of what is left, that is no black hawk. Black hawks don’t hold 25 combat troops.

  • Samie says:

    1> Scenario 1: Pakistan was informed before the raid took place and was complicit in intelligence sharing and turning a blind eye to US raid. – This seems highly unlikely as US has had been complaining about ISI’s connection with Al-Qaeda for ages and such an early notification to Pakistan would have certainly helped Laden escape. Similarly any kind of situation of Pakistan trading in Laden for a price is also ruled out as such an intention would have again leaked to pro-Al Qaeda section of ISI/Pakinstan Government/Military.
    2> Scenario 2: Pakistan was informed soon after the SEALs reached their destination. This is highly probable considering the fact that US helos could have used all their low flying, radar jamming to reach target. But flying back after 40 minutes of gunfire, helicopter destruction without being intercepted by the Pakistan airforce/army on way back could only be explained by the warning to Pakistan Army Chief with two options given to him – don’t interfere now or you will never be able to interfere again….
    3> Scenario 3: Pakistan was not informed at all. This is very unlikely as US would have known that they will get detected once the raid commenced and would need the full might of US airforce/navy to assist to help helos out the Pakistan but would have most likely faced loss of men/machines in full engagement which would not have helped the very mission they set out to achieve – capture/bring home dead – Laden.

  • Inexplorata says:

    I think ED B has it right. Those pictures show stealth attributes on what is probably a Blackhawk variant airframe.
    Pakistan had no idea until it was over, probably.

  • Charu says:

    @Civy, those were Pakistani opinions offered to the Telegraph reporter. Professor Hoodbhoy, the Pakistani physicist, essentially stated the same view in the Pakistani English paper, The Express Tribune (//
    If bin Laden was the goose that laid the golden egg (billions and billions of $$$$ from the US) for the Pakistanis, then I would respectfully disagree with Hoodbhoy’s thesis that this “golden goose” was stolen from under the Pakistani nose by the Americans.
    Hoodbhoy, himself, suggests that “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”. If this had been the plan, what better time to trade the Goose than now; when the Afghan end game is being played out and political concessions could be maximized?
    President Obama is clearly looking for a way out of Afghanistan and what better way to claim victory and pull out?
    Time will tell if the Pakistanis have once again bamboozled the US. To paraphrase a wise saying, never play poker with a guy called Kayani?

  • To me an Indian, this whole thing looks rather bizarre.I think Pakistan betrayed Osama and Indians were the ones to pay back to Pakistan in form of concession in Siachen and withdrwal from AFPAK. the western paid seminarists and think tanks in India were preparing Indian public opinion for it.But it is the Indian Service chiefs and Defence Minister scuttled it by cancelling MMRCA deal

  • Freedom Now says:

    The Pakistani military has been incompetent through much of the long war. It is plausible that despite the 40 minute firefight their security services were too incompetent to make a proper response.
    Of course, that doesnt rule out the other possibilities mentioned above.
    Time will tell… (hopefully)

  • mano says:

    the Pakistanis are saying something absurd,they claim the Americans used among other things nap of the earth techniques to get into Pakistan,nap of the earth techniques can be used by the copters only in daylight,where pilot the can see the visual markers like hills and valleys and he can use them to low fly over to reach the target.this was an operation conducted in midnight local Pakistan time,somebody is not saying the truth here,they are hoping to hide behind technical jargon and hope people wont catch on.

  • Web Design says:

    Why is the US spending $3 billion in annual aid for Pakistan when the government could be using that money on our own schools for our own childrens education, but instead are cutting the money spent on schools and teachers left and right. After all these children are the furture of this great nation. This really makes me angry and it should make all of America angry.

  • kp says:

    Samie you missed out the most likely scenario (given post raid reporting e.g. the Sit Room photos that are time stamped … Obama is in the Sit Room watching the raid until complete until after 4:05pm):

    Scenario 2A: Pakistan was informed of the raid (but not given the location) after the SEALs finished the raid or left Pakistani airspace or perhaps when they got to the mountain valleys so they would disappear in radar clutter. Just enough to let them know that this wasn’t India attacking them (so they don’t go totally non-linear) but not enough to allow them to respond to the raid.

    The Pakistani’s didn’t arrive at the scene (fortunately) until after the SEALs had left. That’s more than 40 minutes after the start of the raid. And the site is perhaps 300m from PMA.

    As was shown in 9/11 if you don’t think there is an attack in progress it can take some time to respond to it. That gap is where the attackers have the advantage.


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