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The OBL raid and Pakistan's dilemma: nine pieces you should read

Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011
Updated May 02, 2017 08:29pm


Six years ago today, then US president Barack Obama had triumphantly announced the death of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s elusive leader believed to be the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The world's most wanted man, bin Laden had been killed in an operation conducted by US special forces in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 in a mission codenamed 'Operation Neptune Spear'.

The following is a curation of the most important stories and opinion pieces to come out after his killing. Click on the subheads to read the stories.

Pakistan's nightmare

The death of the most wanted man in the world could not have come at a worse time for Pakistan. Instead of resolving many of the issues surrounding his mysterious escape from Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan and his whereabouts thereafter, his death has spawned many more questions.

If Bin Laden’s presence in a major urban centre and that too close to a prestigious military training institution could be any pointer, it might as well prompt the US to ask for more intrusive surveillance of our territory, including the urban areas and not just the rugged tribal backyards.

Morning after the raid

In the aftermath of one of the most dramatic manhunts in recent history, statements coming in from the Foreign Office left many questions unanswered. Both the military and the government appeared to be struggling with possible ways to deal with the situation.

The initial statements suggested an intelligence failure from Pakistan’s end, while the US announced a successful operation carried out by the CIA along with US Navy SEALs.

The media needs a villain

The reactions from the media were to be expected; bin Laden had been the focal point of the "War on Terror" for nearly a decade since September 11, 2001.

He was the enemy, so the pomp and circumstance given to his killing should not have come as a surprise to those who followed the Western media's coverage of global events, especially when Islam was involved, over the years leading to his killing.

In the corridors of military power

"What goes on in the corridors of military power is a mystery to us. What guides their actions remains a complex web of calculations, strategic they say, often immoral, disgusting, irrational and suicidal in our eyes.

They value their assets, they hedge their bets and they play both sides of the game and try to bluff the single most powerful country in the world, to which they have played as a near mercenary force for a fair time (“Our Army can be Your Army” said Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the darling of the khaki apologists)."

Who killed bin Laden

Reports suggested that bin Laden was shot dead with a single bullet to his head when he resisted capture, but an official indicated that the 54-year-old mastermind might have been killed by one of his own guards in line with his will to avert his capture.

Details are sketchy about the circumstances leading to the raid on the living quarters inside the large compound surrounded by unusually high walls and fences, but background discussions with government and security officials do help in reconstructing the high drama that culminated in the death of America’s most wanted man.

Bin Laden was well hidden

Neighbours said they knew little about those inside in the compound but bin Laden apparently depended on two men who would routinely emerge to run errands or to a neighborhood gathering, such as a funeral.

There were conflicting details about the men's identities. Several people said they were known as Tariq and Arshad Khan and had identified themselves as cousins from elsewhere in northwestern Pakistan. Others gave different names and believed they were brothers.

Sympathy after death

Some see bin Laden as a hero and a martyr, others look at him as a terrorist and then there is the third group that is trying to make sense of it all.

Even in his death, bin Laden continues to divide the world where many see him as a terrorist extraordinaire but the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death and the way his body was disposed have elevated sympathies for him.

India's hope of an Afghan end-game

India is Afghanistan's biggest regional aid donor and its dollar 1.3 billion of projects, from building a parliament to a highway to Iran, shows what Indian officials like to call their “soft power” to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan.

CIA tweets Operation Neptune Spear - Five years later

“To mark the 5th anniversary of the Usama Bin Ladin operation in Abbottabad we will tweet the raid as if it were happening today. #UBLRaid,” @CIA said, announcing its social media blitz.

Tweets included the now famous picture of President Barack Obama and other high-ranking US officials watching matters unfold from the White House's Situation Room.