WASHINGTON: Pakistani army generals and top ISI officials supposedly not only knew about Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, they kept him as a prisoner since 2006 before selling him out to the US in 2011 for the $25 million claims US investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh.
Hersh, writing in the London Review of Books, has alleged that the United States government and Pakistani officials in fact worked closely–attempting to smooth political and financial concerns between the two nations–prior to the May 2011 assault on bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.
“The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account,” Hersh wrote.
According to Hersh, Army chief Pervez Ashfaq Kayani and ISI head Ahmad Shuja Pasha, cooperated with the Americans under both threats and inducements, including personal blandishments.
Contrary to US claims, bin Laden was not located through tracking of his couriers but through a “walk-in,” Hersh wrote in the piece, which was sourced mainly by a “retired senior intelligence official,” among a handful of anonymous others.
President Obama, Hersh suggests, milked the episode for domestic political gains, including a second term re-election, after reneging on US promises to Pakistan about when and how the raid would be revealed to the world.
Islamabad has always maintained that the US acted unilaterally in Abbottabad and that it had no prior knowledge of the al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts – something which Washington also officially endorses. Hersh’s claims, therefore, could cause not only an embarrassment to Pakistan’s security officials but also to the Americans.
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren called Hersh’s piece “largely a fabrication” and said there were “too many inaccuracies” to detail each one. Col Warren said the raid to kill bin Laden was a “unilateral action.” Both the National Security Council and the Pentagon denied that Pakistan had played any role in the raid.