Osama bin Laden: How did he manage to live in Pakistan for nine years,
in five houses, and sire
four children born in state hospitals, without the
senior Pakistan intelligence officials? Pakistani investigators
concluded that either complicity or incompetence are responsible.
on bin Laden’s Presence in Pakistan
“Is it possible
that both civilian and military intelligence officials were unable to track
down one of the world’s most recognized faces as he made his way from one
Pakistani town to another? … if the failure had more
to do with complicity than incompetence, it becomes even more important to
discover how and why our institutions were penetrated.”
An old and somewhat haggard looking man identified as Osama bin Laden watches himself on television, from a screen grab on a video tape found in his Pakistan hide out. A new report on Pakistan's own investigation into his presence in the country and the U.S. raid the ended his life has confirmed what the world has long suspected: bin Laden had help from official circles in Pakistan.
IF the discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad
wasn’t embarrassing enough, now there is more reason for Pakistan to take a
long hard look at its record opposing terrorism. In news that confirms what the
world had long suspected, an official team of Pakistani investigators has learned
from a wife of bin Laden that he had been in Pakistan since 2002. So for nine
years, the world’s most wanted terrorist survived in Pakistan after fleeing a U.S.
attack on Tora Bora.
And he wasn’t confined to one place, either. From Peshawar
to SWAT to Haripur to Abbottabad,
the man responsible for the events of 9/11 somehow found shelter for months in settled
areas of Pakistan, and in some instances, years. Meanwhile, Pakistan officials continued
to deny any knowledge of his whereabouts, with General Musharraf
claiming he was either dead, in Afghanistan or in the tribal areas. Is it
possible that both civilian and military intelligence officials were unable to
track down one of the world’s most recognized faces as he made his way from one
Pakistani town to another? Or does this new information point to something more
sinister? Who facilitated his movement and his rest stops? Were they ordinary
citizens or members of law enforcement or the intelligence agencies?
What is clear is that the commission looking into his
presence and the raid in Abbottabad can no longer
limit its probe to these topics. In light of the investigation, the commission
now must expand its focus to encompass bin Laden’s presence in the country since
2002. This should include interviews of senior military, intelligence and
police officials who served in the relevant areas at the time, including General
Musharraf, under whose leadership bin Laden first
found passage into and shelter within this country.
At stake are several critical issues. For one, if Pakistani
intelligence is really incompetent enough to have overlooked bin Laden’s
presence for so long and in so many places, it is vital that such flaws in the
system are identified and addressed. And if the failure had more to do with
complicity than incompetence, it becomes even more important to discover how
and why our institutions were penetrated, and at what levels. The delay in the
presentation of the commission’s report has already raised questions about its independence,
and that challenge just got bigger. How it addresses this breathtaking
intelligence failure will be an indication of the seriousness - or lack thereof
- of Pakistan’s commitment to combating terrorism, for its own sake and that of
the security of the world.
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