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Pakistan military officials admit defector's key role in Bin Laden operation

Updated May 12, 2015 10:59pm

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ISLAMABAD: Two former senior Pakistan military officials told AFP on Tuesday that a ‘defector’ from country’s intelligence agency did assist the US in its hunt for Osama bin Laden but denied the two countries had officially worked together.

The officials' accounts came after the publication of a controversial news report by US journalist Seymour Hersh in which he claimed to have uncovered a ‘secret deal’ between Washington and Islamabad that reportedly resulted in the killing of Al-Qaeda chief in 2011.

The White House has flatly rejected Hersh's claims that Pakistan was told in advance about the May 2 special forces raid in Abbottabad.

A source — who was a serving senior military official at the time of the raid — told AFP that the defector was a “resourceful and energetic” mid-ranking intelligence officer whose efforts were critical to the operation's success.

Know more: Pakistani officials reject claims of ISI handling bin Laden

Hersh's report quoted a senior US source as saying a “walk-in” approached the then-Islamabad station chief for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2010 promising to lead them to bin Laden, who according to the journalist had been imprisoned by Pakistani authorities at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.

However, the Pakistani military source told AFP the defector had no knowledge that his target was bin Laden, but he was instead given a task that would help verify the Al-Qaeda chief's identity.

The source declined to elaborate on what that task was, but a Pakistani investigation found that the CIA had run a fake vaccination programme with the help of physician Dr Shakeel Afridi who obtained DNA samples.

Qazi Khalilullah, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman, meanwhile said the government was investigating Hersh's account and would announce its reaction soon. “We are looking into the matter and will give our reaction soon,” he said.

Verification task

On the defector's role, the source said: “This guy was inducted at a much later stage only to carry out the ground confirmation." He added that the defector did not belong to the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) but another branch, and was now residing in the United States.

Another former official, ex-ISI chief Hamid Gul, told AFP he was also aware of the defector. “That is in my knowledge, that someone defected,” he said.

“There was too big a reward, he became a mole and agent to put in practice their plan.” The US had placed a $25-million-dollar bounty on information leading to the capture or killing of bin Laden — a sum Washington has said it never paid because no human informants were used.

According to Hersh's report, the US learned that Pakistani authorities had bin Laden in their custody and were hoping to use him as a shield against Al-Qaeda and Taliban attacks.

Later, Hersh reported, the US convinced Pakistan to stage a fake raid to kill bin Laden, providing a boost for US President Barack Obama — then in his first term — while also allowing the Pakistanis to deny having anything to do with the killing.

No deal made

Both former Pakistani officials, however, and several other serving officials, have dismissed the allegation that such a deal had been brokered.

The then-serving senior military official said that in the aftermath of the raid, “the mood here and the reaction here was of great frustration even at the top level.

“If the top guys had been part of the plan — they were the worst hit. They were almost forced to resign.

“With the kind of bad name and reputation that came with such a great risk, it wasn't worth it. “A leaked Pakistani government report in 2013 said bin Laden arrived in Pakistan in the spring or summer of 2002 — after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan — and settled in Abbottabad in August 2005.

The report, which coined the term “governance implosion syndrome” to explain the extent of official failures to detect him, said he was once stopped for speeding and enjoyed wearing a cowboy hat.

Hersh's report has been met with some scepticism, but Dawn's editorial argued that it should force the government to officially release the findings of the 2013 investigation, and bring the country's powerful military-run intelligence agencies under civilian supervision.

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Comments (65) Closed



umer May 12, 2015 09:20pm

Spy games dangerously fascinating.

ashok kumar lal May 12, 2015 09:20pm

worlds most wanted man stays near top army institutions.attack is neither detected nor stopped.Why did Pearl die.Why Davis killed two chaps.Some un answered questions.

Indian Mumbai May 12, 2015 09:20pm

No Its US carried out the operation without giving a slightest of clue to the ISI and the Pakistani military. Pakistani military is eye washing the whole episode to gain the lost credibility.

Prasad May 12, 2015 09:21pm

Hamid Gul still has credibility?

Wonder why he didn't say so in many talk shows that he participated in after the raid...

Cat May 12, 2015 09:22pm

So, someone dug the boat while others were paddling.

Shujaat Khan May 12, 2015 09:23pm

Release the Doctor ASAP . Govt, ISI should apologize to him with compensation .

Santosh Menon May 12, 2015 09:24pm

So who was this "Defector"?!. Is there a name & rank for this "Defector"?. Looks like "OBL" is haunting Pakistan even from his grave!.

Khwaja May 12, 2015 09:29pm

Make a plan. Organize. Plant. Use. Disown. Throw. Rubbish.

Combaticuis May 12, 2015 09:31pm

Qazi Khalilullah, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman, meanwhile said the government was investigating Hersh's account and would announce its reaction soon. “We are looking into the matter and will give our reaction soon,” he said.

NO ! We want the ABBOTTABAD REPORT to be made public.

sdas May 12, 2015 09:35pm

Since the raid and subsequent killing of Osama Bin Laden, it was widely reported that " nobody " in Pakistan knew about his whereabouts. Some of those statements appear to be false and fabricated. There were people who knew !

Qamar Faruqui May 12, 2015 09:35pm

So many lies have come from every where that nothing remains credible but an ordinary Pakistani will always think about the security of its borders.

Riaz May 12, 2015 09:36pm

Everyone has its own story to mislead the world that Osama was killed in Abbotabad. The fact is that it was a fabricated US drama played in connivance with Pakistani authorities. Osama had died much before this drama was played.

Malik Tariq May 12, 2015 09:37pm

The Source or Defector or Mole is a moderate term that define a man who betrays his oath to serve the country, especially if he is part of any intelligence agency. Such a man deserved to be court martialed instead of being allowed to leave the country and enjoy the reward given for becoming an informer.

Prashant May 12, 2015 09:44pm

If the news is authentic and pakistani military and govt: knew this then probably they missed the bus. But still it is total confusion and probably will never come out clean.

sana May 12, 2015 09:50pm

This matter is just like a spider web....

Whatever the matter was, we know that our officials were involved......they imprisoned Osama under US nose, and help them getting in and planed a fake raid and all, but the thing is we dont mind that!

You protect our country that is enough for us...

Arif May 12, 2015 09:53pm

@Prashant - Hamid Gul gave this informtion to US and was involved indirectly in the operation

Asif May 12, 2015 09:58pm

As always, whenever I hear this kind of news, I am forced to think, what kind of people are we? And what kind of people are running "once" my beautiful country?

Usman Younas May 12, 2015 10:02pm

What a funny last conclusion by the editorial...

Syed Ganga Din May 12, 2015 10:13pm

No defector. That's complete non-sense.

Sher Jan May 12, 2015 10:13pm

The untenable idea of bringing the premier agency under civilian control at this crucial juncture of history would come hard on the whole nation. Civilian control means supervision by the elected representatives irrespective of the fact that whether they have been elected through a fair process or they have utilized unfair means to elect themselves to the assemblies. Their true credentials are yet to be verified and their true affiliations are still need to be ascertained. The nation can not have a grave risk to allow the lay politicians to take a complete control of an institution which is a bulwark against all sort of malicious machinations on the part of the hidden and apparent enemies of the country. Wait is the only option for them if they are audacious enough to harbor such a fancy idea to take the reins of brain of Pakistan. A single report from Seymour Hersh should be a reason to blame the prestigious agency of Pakistan although there is enough substance about a defector.

Surinder Saini May 12, 2015 10:16pm

@Combaticuis well said, and this will be reaction, " Foreign ministry official will deny any knowledge and reports are baseless"

jj May 12, 2015 10:17pm

Media has become the most powerful institution in the world. It can and has made devils into heroes and angels into devils. The guy is dead period. Who is right and who is wrong no one would come to know, tomorrow the news would be God killed OBL and we will start jumping into conclusions.

farhatullah May 12, 2015 10:19pm

@sdas u trust americans and not pakistanies

Asif May 12, 2015 10:23pm

@sana

Maybe you were sarcastic?

Sunil May 12, 2015 10:35pm

Still even after the death of OBL, his ghost haunts the Americans.

M J Syed May 12, 2015 10:48pm

The purpose of Hersh report is obvious. Pakistan is gradually inching towards peace. This report incites people to cause more trouble. If we fall for that, we are dumb.

faisal sayeed May 12, 2015 10:58pm

Interesting read....but nothing new. I am afraid such theories and investigations abound in western media. I, however, would disagree that such a large and important Pakistani enterprise (ISI) be run by current or any future civilian government. Our civilian governments are too incompetent to handle such an important (National Security) apparatus.

mike USA May 12, 2015 11:07pm

@Santosh Menon ... there is no grave for OBL, pacific sea , his 'grave'.

ahsan7979 May 12, 2015 11:10pm

The story is planted just like many others to undermine Pakistan.

Awais Ali May 12, 2015 11:20pm

Again controversy.

Sandhu May 12, 2015 11:26pm

If defector helped US then it means Pakistani establishment knew about Osama? Hersh report seems true at that particular point.

ak May 12, 2015 11:33pm

I don't think the real truth will ever come out. Its possible that this was a staged raid and that OBL was dead long before 2011. Nobody will ever know for sure...

Funga May 12, 2015 11:34pm

I think they should issue an apology on releasing the movie zero dark thirty and all the awards that movie won, should go to trash

Fawad May 12, 2015 11:44pm

So all the guys who were saying there was no Bin Laden can take rest, as well as role of ISI and military also is established.

Justice May 12, 2015 11:46pm

So what investigation was carried out by pakistan's NA soon after the up roar took place? Why didn't pakistani investigation pick up what Hersh is saying? Therefore paksitani investigation was a load of rubbish. Makes a mockery of pakistani intelligence/ investigations.

Santosh Menon May 12, 2015 11:50pm

@mike USA : That's the grave I am referring to!. It's actually Arabian Sea! USS Carl Vinson carried his body to the north Arabian Sea!. It is difficult to take his body to the Pacific Ocean as it is on the other side of the globe!.

NASR May 12, 2015 11:52pm

@Indian Mumbai Being an Indian you have the right to say this

Black Sabbath May 13, 2015 12:24am

So the Pakistani establishment is jumping on Mr. Hersh's story (which the White House has strongly denied BTW) to take some credit for OBL capture? Sorry but no one believes you guys & its already been 4 years so not many care either.

IMRAN ALI May 13, 2015 12:26am

it was major(DR) who took the DNA sample...Dr.Afridi was made scape goat and hatred was created against vaccination as a result we lost so many polio workers

Sonny Afridi May 13, 2015 12:27am

@Indian Mumbai I'm not sure what's the deal with your comprehension. Seymour Hersh (an American) released the report not Pakistanis. Read carefully in the future.

Muhammad May 13, 2015 12:35am

Please US; don't make us Pakistan part of your lie and False Flags.

Agha Ata May 13, 2015 12:36am

Nothing is transparent in this world. There are secrets behind secrets behind secrets.

MAlvi May 13, 2015 01:06am

It is hard to believe that Pakistan army knew the whereabouts of Osama. If they knew, why won't they arrest him.

America did not share this information, because America knew that it will be leaked, and Osama could be moved.

Sonny Afridi May 13, 2015 01:08am

@Black Sabbath Nobody believes your 26/11 drama stories, which is why nobody talks about that either

Sandip May 13, 2015 01:10am

@Prasad Give the poor guy a break. There is a limit to him inventing stories as well.

Bombay May 13, 2015 01:25am

Arrived in 2002. Wow.

Shiv Punjwani May 13, 2015 01:25am

Our army should resist the temptation to play with big powers. A boomrang will affect oir countries future. US-China are not reliable friends.

Avtar May 13, 2015 02:15am

@Combaticuis The report is likely to be revised now and hence delayed further.

Curious May 13, 2015 02:21am

Anybody think this improves Pakistan's reputation?

Shahid May 13, 2015 02:30am

No one would know what is truth but I trust our military. What ever they did or not, must be in the interest of Pakistan, at least in this matter.

ailly May 13, 2015 03:03am

many of us were long convinced before this report.

Javed Sumalani May 13, 2015 03:06am

Hersh's report says it all, it could've never been achieved without the help of Pakistani Intelligence or otherwise the U.S. would've kept looking for OBL even after his death.

S.Hyder, Ph.D. May 13, 2015 03:18am

This 'defector' deserves the highest award for his services to mankind. He helped the world get rid of one of our times most notorious person, the father of AlQaida. May his soul burn in HELL!

Kashaf May 13, 2015 03:37am

Looks like Pakistan captured a sick lion and US hunted it down!

kamran May 13, 2015 04:16am

i like the part how he was 'sold' back n forth...

we live in a strange world...with dangerous games. persons don't matter...only the interests.

cool story!

Akil Akhtar May 13, 2015 05:45am

No surprise US wanted all the glory and maximum political mileage, nothing new and they will lie through their teeth for it. Also Pakistan will do everything to avoid being seen to be involved in any way as they are afraid of any backlash locally.

truth May 13, 2015 07:27am

This was planned we knew it otherwise US would have broken all ties with Pakistan Or vise versa.

truth May 13, 2015 07:28am

All US navy seals team which killed OBL is dead now. Why?

Vijay(Toronto) May 13, 2015 07:31am

@ak If OBL was dead long before, who were the women and children living in Abbottabad?

Zak May 13, 2015 08:41am

@ashok kumar lal all cases u mention are unrelated. You are off the loop.

Zak May 13, 2015 08:43am

@Prasad yes he has high creditability. He did not say, because it was not public knowledge then.

Zak May 13, 2015 08:45am

@Santosh Menon yes this defector is known, but not from intelligence branch. Besides he did not say OBL was there, he was given to verify who the high target in the suspicious location was.

Zak May 13, 2015 08:47am

@Surinder Saini yes, just like India denied Mani statement in court that RAW was behind parliament and bombay attack.

Zak May 13, 2015 08:48am

@Bombay ...because Afghanistan invaded in 2002.

Zak May 13, 2015 08:49am

@Sunil like JFK's murder. When U.S. does not tell the truth, conspiracies will abound.