Bin Laden had prior knowledge of 2008 Mumbai attacks, reveals new book

24 Sep 2015

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Part of a damaged helicopter is seen lying near the compound after US Navy SEAL special forces killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. -Reuters/File
Part of a damaged helicopter is seen lying near the compound after US Navy SEAL special forces killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. -Reuters/File

Osama bin Laden had prior knowledge of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He wanted to establish an Al Qaeda state in Pakistan following the breakout of full-scale war between the two nuclear armed neighbours.

These revelations were made in the recently published book ‘Pakistan’s secret war on Al-Qaeda’, written by Azaz Syed, an investigative journalist and a former correspondent for DawnNews.

The first chapter in the book reveals the untold story of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed (KSM), a close aide of Osama bin Laden and the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. Based on interviews of KSM’s Pakistani facilitators and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials who were involved in his capture and subsequent interrogation, previously unknown details about KSM’s life and activities have come to the forefront.

According to the book, Major General Ehtesham Zameer of the ISI had received a tip off from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) about the expected arrival of a high value target at Islamabad airport. The target was a Saudi financier of the 9/11 attacks, and was tailed by ISI operatives to a house in Rawalpindi. The house in question belonged to one Dr Abdul Qudoos, who had befriended KSM in Germany and Sudan.

Read: Excerpts from Abbottabad Commission report

The elusive KSM, had been dodging security agencies since 1995, when his nephew, Yousuf Ramzi was arrested from a guesthouse in Pakistan. Ramzi was wanted by the United States for the murder of CIA officials in the US. KSM was also present at the same guesthouse, but managed to evade capture.

Years later, KSM was apprehended in Pakistan along with Mustafa Hawsawi, the Saudi financier of 9/11, a fact which not reported by the media.

Osama's reclusive life

Other chapters in the book gives details of Osama bin Laden, who was hosted in Pakistan by Kuwaiti brothers, bin Laden’s trusted couriers and confidants. The book sheds light on his personal life, as well as the veil of secrecy that surrounded him. Osama’s identity was also hidden from the families of the Kuwaiti brothers.

Helicopter wreckage is seen in the compound after US Navy SEAL commandos killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. -Reuters/File
Helicopter wreckage is seen in the compound after US Navy SEAL commandos killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. -Reuters/File

When Osama bin Laden’s third wife, Amal, was admitted into a hospital for childbirth, the Kuwaiti brothers told the medical staff that Amal was deaf and dumb, lest someone finds out the truth and reports them to the authorities.

Al Qaeda’s chief had also changed his appearance to avoid capture, he was clean shaven and had stopped wearing a turban, he only grew a beard days before the raid which killed him.

The book has also revealed another unknown fact, one of bin Laden’s daughter has been married into Kuwaiti brothers family, and she now resides in Kohat.

A strained relationship

Syed claims that a tenuous relationship existed between the ISI and the CIA.

Two Major General rank officers of the ISI, Nusrat Naeem and Asif Akhtar, had annoyed the CIA to such a degree that the CIA had sent pink papers against them to the then ISI chief General Kayani. Not surprisingly, the two officers were superseded when Kayani became the army chief.

Also read: Obama administration had tacit consent of Pakistan military, claims book

Syed wrote that former ISI chief General Shuja Pasha had also once disclosed that the Americans were once mistaken in 2007 about bin Laden’s whereabouts. The then US Vice President Dick Cheney had paid an emergency visit to personally hand deliver a chit to Musharraf, and had asked him to read it after he left. The chit read: “We suspect that bin Laden is in Pakistan.”

As the hunt for Al Qaeda’s chief was started, it transpired that the individual in question was an Afghan smuggler who had a striking resemblance to the most wanted man in the world.

Another chapter in the books deals with two retired colonels of the Pakistan Army. One of them was employed by the CIA and the other was apparently running a private security company providing services to various foreign embassies.

Syed also explains the making of General Kayani as the army chief, who attained the position after meeting Benazir Bhutto in Dubai. He is also reported to have said that he would hit back at president Musharraf, if the president tried to remove him as he was under severe domestic pressure at the time from different quarters.