WASHINGTON: An official US assessment of Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad has concluded that Pakistan did not know the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leader before the US raid, says Admiral William McRaven.
As head of the US Special Operations Command, Admiral McRaven personally supervised the May 1 raid on OBL’s compound in Abbottabad that killed the reclusive Al Qaeda leader.
The senior US military official said Pakistan wasn’t informed of the raid because the initial assumption was “How could they not know he was there?”
A report by the American Forces Press Service quoted Admiral McRaven as telling a meeting in Washington that he too believed informing Pakistan about the raid in advance would have put the mission at risk.
Now he also believes that the Pakistani government did not know Bin Laden’s whereabouts, the admiral added. “We have no intelligence that indicates the Pakistanis knew he was there,” he said.
Mr McRaven, interviewed on stage by Charlie Rose, a CBS executive editor and anchor, said there was never a moment he doubted the raid would succeed. “We hand-picked the guys,” he said. “They were the best of the best, all across the board. They had extensive combat experience, and consequently… I was very confident.”
Responding to questions about Pakistan, Admiral McRaven said the US relationship with that country was improving.
“I think it's improving. We obviously went through a rough spell, but we have — it's a complicated relationship with Pakistan, but it's a good relationship. It is getting stronger, and I think we need to try and make it stronger,” he said.
“We need to kind of put our differences aside because understanding the problems in Pakistan and working with the Pakistanis to deal with their terrorist problems and the terrorist problems that are emanating from Pakistan is crucial for our eventual success,” he said.
When asked why did Pakistan was not informed on the Bin Laden raid, he said, “We didn't trust them because we didn't share the mission with them.”
“Yeah, again, not my decision, but I would have voted for the decision that was made because it was just too risky to bring them in because part of the thinking was, how could they not know he was there? But everything afterwards indicates that they just didn't know he was there. He was hiding in plain sight,” Mr McRaven said.
The admiral warned that OBL’s death had not ended terrorism. Though Bin Laden was dead, non-state actors still presented a threat, he said.
“We understand … to minimise the rise of violent extremism, you have to create the conditions on the ground where people have good jobs, where there is the rule of law, where there is stability [and] where there is good governance,” he said. “We think, from a military standpoint, we can certainly help with the security that will be required to help begin to build some of that stability.”
Admiral McRaven emphasised the need to work with other nations to build a partnership for continuing the fight against terrorists.