Bin Laden in Abbottabad: Report gives military, govt, ISI clean bill

Bin Laden in Abbottabad: Report gives military, govt, ISI clean bill

October 23, 2012

While Osama bin Laden’s ghost continues to haunt many after the May 2, 2011 raid, an independent commission has found that the government and security establishment did not know about the al Qaeda kingpin’s presence in the country.

The five-member Judicial Commission set up by the apex court to probe the Abbottabad raid has spent the past year and a half questioning military officers, Bin Laden’s wives and residents of Abbottabad. The commission submitted its final report to the government last week.

No one else in the town knew that the world’s most wanted man had taken up residence in Abbottabad, a senior Pakistani official privy to the report told The Daily Telegraph.

“It [the report] clears Pakistan’s government and military establishment of involvement, a verdict that will prompt accusations of a cover-up and infuriate Western diplomats,” he said.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the investigation describes how the daughter of one of Bin Laden’s two couriers, who lived with their families in separate buildings inside the high-walled compound, saw the al Qaeda leader as she climbed the stairs in his private area for a Holy Quran lesson with one of his wives.

According to a Pakistani source, the report reads, she was oblivious to his identity until she saw his picture on television some days later.

“This prompted a hurried security conference inside the compound, which ended with Bin Laden giving up his exercise routine in a covered part of the courtyard,” the report reads.

On May 2 last year, the al Qaeda kingpin was killed by US Navy Seals. Critics in the US and within the country wasted no time and accused Pakistani officials of knowing more about Bin Laden’s presence than they were letting on.

The report quotes a senior government source as saying that they would find few answers in the commission’s report.

“At the end of the day it really doesn’t tell us much more than we already knew,” the official told The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s a disappointment for those who thought this episode might represent a turning point for Pakistan’s relationship with extremist groups.”

Christine Fair – of the Georgetown University – while talking to The Daily Telegraph said that although leaders of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may not have known about Bin Laden’s presence, someone among the country’s retired generals, Military Intelligence (MI) or local police must have known something.

What report?

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner has said that the US has still not viewed the commission report, but believes it is important for the Pakistani and American public to see it.

In response to a question at a daily press briefing, Toner said that they had only seen reports in the Pakistani press about the report by the Abbottabad commission.

“We share a profound interest in what kind of support networks Bin Laden may have had,” he said.

The spokesperson added that when such a report does get finalised and is made public, it would be important for the American and Pakistani people to know about the results.