US enjoyed ground support: report

Published July 10, 2013
This May 5, 2011 shows Pakistani Army soldiers cordoning of the compound in Abbottabad.—AFP Photo
This May 5, 2011 shows Pakistani Army soldiers cordoning of the compound in Abbottabad.—AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD, July 9: The Abbottabad Commission was convinced that US Special Forces enjoyed the support of a ground network as they undertook the risky raid inside Pakistani territory.

“There were in all possibility fairly extensive networks,” the commission said in its findings as it assumed that there could be one CIA network for locating him, while the other ascertained his presence at the location.

It said presence of CIA spies for tracking Osama bin Laden prior to 2005 was well known and it was surprising that ISI stopped the manhunt thinking that the Americans had discontinued his chase with the expectation that he had already died.

Following the decline in ISI-CIA cooperation because of troubled ties, the commission believed that there was mass influx of CIA spies, most of them under the garb of NGO workers and also help from some unsuspecting locals who supported them.

The arrival of spies was said to have been helped by issuance of too many visas by then ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani.

The supposedly Abbottabad-bound vans seen leaving the embassy on the evening before the raid, presence of people on the ground directing neighbours to stay indoors during the operation and cutting of trees outside OBL hideout to facilitate the approach of helicopters carrying US Navy SEALs, the report said, supported the hypothesis of presence of ground network.

There were also reports of presence of a CIA safehouse near OBL’s hiding place.

The vaccination ruse carried out by Dr Shakeel Afridi, who is currently in jail, for confirming the identity of the residents of OBL compound was yet another proof of ground support network.

The ISI in the first place, the commission observed, failed in noticing the CIA ground network and after the incident did little to unearth the network except for military reducing the number of known CIA spies in the country.

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