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US journalist insists Pakistan helped US get bin Laden

29th Apr 2016
US journalist insists Pakistan helped US get bin Laden

WASHINGTON (AA) – A famed American journalist is convinced “more than ever” that Pakistan assisted the U.S. in killing Osama bin Laden despite official denials from both countries.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh made the remarks while speaking to Pakistani daily Dawn.

His new book, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, lays out the claim, which was first made last year, rattling the Obama administration.

The White House balked at Hersh’s claim, insisting Islamabad played no role in the mission that led to death of the former al-Qaeda ringleader at the hands of U.S. special forces outside of a town in northeastern Pakistan in May 2011.

But Hersh doubled down on his earlier claim, saying he has seen new evidence since he broke the story that corroborates his claim.

He said Pakistan detained bin Laden in 2006 and kept him under lock and key with Saudi Arabia’s support until Pakistani officials struck a deal with Washington to allow the U.S. to raid his compound under the official pretense that Pakistan had no knowledge of the operation.

Abbottabad, the town where U.S. forces killed bin Laden, is home to a prominent Pakistani military academy, raising questions about how the al-Qaeda mastermind could have stayed hidden for so long.

According to the official U.S. narrative, U.S. forces penetrated Pakistani airspace using previously secretive stealth helicopter technology without Pakistani knowledge, in order to carry out the raid.

But Hersh disputed the account, saying, “Pakistan is in constant alert because of India. Their radars are watching, their F-16s are up all the time.”

He added that the deal to get bin Laden was struck with Pakistani intelligence chiefs from the notoriously secretive ISI, but it infuriated Pakistani generals.

“The then head of Pakistan’s Air Defense Command was very, very upset. He was ready to go public,” Hersh said, claiming that the general was promoted to ensure his silence.

He further claimed that Pakistani forces arrested bin Laden in Pakistan’s Hindu Kush area before building the Abbottabad compound and placing him there.
“Pakistani officials did so because the Saudis asked them to. The Saudis did not want Americans to interrogate OBL,” he said using an acronym for bin Laden.

A Pakistani colonel who was later resettled in the U.S. divulged knowledge of bin Laden’s whereabouts to the CIA station chief in August 2010, Hersh said.

Hersh said his story is not solely based on Pakistani sources, noting his wide network of sources in Washington, but acknowledged “I did have more contact with people in the ISI after I wrote. I learned much more, that gave me much more flesh on the skimpy bones I guess I had.”
Author Michael Hernandez

[Photo: Osama bin Laden. Photo by Hamid Mir/Creative Commons]

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