'Osama lived in Pak undetected for 9 yrs'

Highlights

Al Jazeera published contents of Pak govt report causes tremors Report speaks of collective and...

  • Al Jazeera published contents of Pak govt report causes tremors
  • Report speaks of collective and sustained dereliction of duty by political, military and intelligence leadership
  • Laden's Abbottabad den just 1 km away from military base
  • Qaida chief came close to capture in 2003 when he was pulled over for overspeeding
  • CIA and ISI cooperation on the Laden hunt ended in 2005
  • US finally found Laden on its own by tracing his courier Al Kuwaiti

Al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden was able to live in Pakistan undetected for nine years because of a breathtaking scale of negligence and incompetence at practically all levels of the Pakistani government, according to an official government report published by a TV channel on Monday. The 336-page report was written by a commission tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the covert US raid that killed bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011. The pan-Arab Al Jazeera satellite channel published the report on its website after it was leaked to the station by unknown sources.

Pakistani officials did not respond to requests for comment on the report's authenticity. The US Navy SEAL raid that killed Laden outraged them because they were not told about it beforehand. US officials have said they kept Pakistan in the dark because they were worried the Al Qaida founder would be tipped off.

The fact that the compound where bin Laden was hiding was located only about one kilometer (half a mile) from Pakistan's equivalent of West Point led many in the US to suspect Pakistani officials of aiding the Al Qaida chief, although Washington never found evidence to back that up. The report said it also found no evidence that current or former Pakistani officials helped bin Laden hide, although it couldn't rule it out completely. It said very little is known about the network of support that bin Laden enjoyed in Pakistan, other than the group of family and backers that lived with him in Abbottabad.

The report said it was shocking that nobody in the Pakistani government discovered bin Laden while he was living in Abbottabad for six years in a compound described as "hardly normal," because it was somewhat isolated from homes around it, had very high walls and was protected by barbed wire. Bin Laden wore a cowboy hat when he moved around the compound to avoid detection from above. "The extent of incompetence, to put it mildly, was astounding, if not unbelievable," the report said. It said Laden came close to capture in 2002 or 2003 when he was living in the northwest Swat Valley, said the wife of bin Laden's courier, Maryam. A policeman pulled them over for speeding as they were on their way to a bazaar, but Maryam's husband, Ibrahim al-Kuwaiti, quickly settled the matter before the officer recognized Laden, she said.

The commission, composed of a Supreme Court judge, a retired army officer, a retired police officer and a career diplomat, took officials to task for failing to uncover the CIA network assumed to have helped the US discover bin Laden. "This has been a case of nothing less than a collective and sustained dereliction of duty by the political, military and intelligence leadership of the country," the report said. The commission found no evidence that Pakistani officials were informed beforehand about the US raid. Cooperation between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency on the hunt for bin Laden ended in 2005, the report said. The US was eventually able to find bin Laden by tracing his courier, Al Kuwaiti.

Pentagon purges Laden raid records

Washington (AP): The top US special operations commander, Admiral William McRaven, ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout to be purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public. The secret move, described briefly in a draft report by the Pentagon's inspector general, set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have side-stepped federal rules and perhaps also the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

An acknowledgement by Adm. William McRaven of his actions was quietly removed from the final version of an inspector general's report published weeks ago. A spokesman for the admiral declined to comment. The CIA, noting that the bin Laden mission was overseen by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta before he became defense secretary, said that the SEALs were effectively assigned to work temporarily for the CIA, which has presidential authority to conduct covert operations.

"Documents related to the raid were handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was conducted under the direction of the CIA director," agency spokesman Preston Golson said in an emailed statement. "Records of a CIA operation such as the (bin Laden) raid, which were created during the conduct of the operation by persons acting under the authority of the CIA Director, are CIA records."

Golson said it is "absolutely false" that records were moved to the CIA to avoid the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. The records transfer was part of an effort by McRaven to protect the names of the personnel involved in the raid, according to the inspector general's draft report. But secretly moving the records allowed the Pentagon to tell The Associated Press that it couldn't find any documents inside the Defense Department that AP had requested more than two years ago, and would represent a new strategy for the U.S. government to shield even its most sensitive activities from public scrutiny.

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