Pakistanis in general are not willing to believe in facts and are more prone to trusting conspiracy theories because they provide a feasible explanation of events in a narrow frame of reference. It has been a whole year since the Abbottabad Operation that killed Osama bin Laden, and a majority of Pakistanis still do not believe it even happened, despite public announcements by al Qaeda themselves.
Nicholas Schmidle, winner of 2008 Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism, wrote a detailed article named “Getting bin Laden: What happened that night in Abbottabad” in the New Yorker Magazine on 8th August 2011. That article is one of the most comprehensive accounts of the Abbotabad operation till date. Regarding the planning of the operation, the article mentions,
“On March 14th, 2011, Obama called his national-security advisers into the White House Situation Room and reviewed a spreadsheet listing possible courses of action against the Abbottabad compound. Most were variations of either a JSOC raid or an air strike. At the end of the meeting, Obama instructed McRaven to proceed with planning the raid.”
SEAL Team 6, has been mythologised in the American Media after the operation and several books have been written about them. Nicholas Schmidle’s article briefly mentions the experience of that very team.
“During the 90-minute helicopter flight, James and his teammates rehearsed the operation in their heads. Since the autumn of 2001, they had rotated through Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa at a brutal pace.
The Abbottabad raid was not DEVGRU’s maiden venture into Pakistan either. The team had surreptitiously entered the country on 10 to 12 previous occasions. It represented the team’s first serious attempt since late 2001 at killing “Crankshaft”— the target name that the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC had given bin Laden.”
An American helicopter was lost while landing. The SEALS after taking care of two of Osama’s guards, found him in a third floor bed room.
“The Americans hurried toward the bedroom door. The first SEAL pushed it open. Two of bin Laden’s wives had placed themselves in front of him. Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but they were not wearing any suicide jackets.
A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. Nine years, seven months, and 20 days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “enemy killed in action”.
Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, “We got him.”
This story by Nicholas Schmidle was criticised by columnists including Mallary Jean Tenore from Huffington Post, only because it did not provide enough references. Otherwise, the veracity of this account has not been challenged by anyone including the State Department.
About breaking the news of the operation to the Pakistanis, Rob Crilly wrote in The Telegraph,
“The American ambassador's phone rang shortly after 3am.
It was Salman Bashir, the civil servant who heads Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Mr Ambassador, we have reports of a helicopter crashing in Abbottabad. All our helicopters are accounted for.”
“Do you know anything about it?”
Cameron Munter, who had already got used to dealing with crises since being sent to Islamabad six months earlier, kept his reply diplomatically short: “We'll look into it.” A note of dawning realisation crept into Mr Bashir's voice. “Mr Ambassador, I didn't wake you, did I?”
The phone conversation – described by an official familiar with the exchange – reveals how Pakistan was kept in the dark even after the raid had ended, and the rapid sense of shock that gripped the country.”
The reaction of Pakistanis regarding the Abbotabad Operation surprised many people including Art Keller, a CIA officer. In a recent interview, he said,
“[The] reaction of Pakistan arresting people who helped take down terrorist Number One, somebody Pakistan had long promised it wanted as much or more as the US, is what is telling about the whole situation. Shouldn’t they be handing them medals for doing what Pakistan claimed it wanted? Another thing is that the anger both within the Pak Army, and within Pakistan against the Pak Army, is almost entirely about the fact that they didn’t stop the raid. The shame of bin Laden being found in an Army stronghold is a distant second, and demands for investigation as to how he could have been found in an Army town without some level of ISI or Army complicity appear to be fading, much to the relief of those institutions.”