May 02 2011
In my usual glass-half-full nature (and the rule everyone is innocent until proven guilty) my title is more optimistic than I feel. Two reports bear serious consideration. First up, from the New Yorker:
The city is most notable for housing the Pakistan Military Academy, the Pakistani Army’s premier training college, equivalent to West Point. Looking at maps and satellite photos on the Web last night, I saw the wide expanse of the Academy not far from where the million-dollar, heavily secured mansion where bin Laden lived was constructed in 2005. The maps I looked at had sections of land nearby marked off as “restricted areas,” indicating that they were under military control. It stretches credulity to think that a mansion of that scale could have been built and occupied by bin Laden for six years without its coming to the attention of anyone in the Pakistani Army.
The initial circumstantial evidence suggests that the opposite is more likely—that bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control. Pakistan will deny this, it seems safe to predict, and perhaps no convincing evidence will ever surface to prove the case. If I were a prosecutor at the United States Department of Justice, however, I would be tempted to call a grand jury. Who owned the land on which the house was constructed? How was the land acquired, and from whom? Who designed the house, which seems to have been purpose-built to secure bin Laden? Who was the general contractor? Who installed the security systems? Who worked there? Are there witnesses who will now testify as to who visited the house, how often, and for what purpose? These questions are not relevant only to the full realization of justice for the victims of September 11th. They are also relevant to the victims of terrorist attacks conducted or inspired by bin Laden while he lived in the house, and these include many Pakistanis, as well as Afghans, Indians, Jordanians, and Britons.
Could not agree more. I am still wondering at the hint of hesitation in the President’s announcement last night, and the bizarre leak regarding the March bombing raid, which was authorized and then canceled in favor of the surgical strike. Something just ain’t hinky here.
The second report comes from the UK Telegraph:
American diplomats were told that one of the key reasons why they had failed to find bin Laden was that Pakistan’s security services tipped him off whenever US troops approached.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) also allegedly smuggled al-Qaeda terrorists through airport security to help them avoid capture and sent a unit into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban.
In December 2009, the government of Tajikistan warned the United States that efforts to catch bin Laden were being thwarted by corrupt Pakistani spies.
According to a US diplomatic dispatch, General Abdullo Sadulloevich Nazarov, a senior Tajik counterterrorism official, told the Americans that “many” inside Pakistan knew where bin Laden was.
It does seem strange such a dangerous person could hold court so close to the Pak Military elite. Was it the fact we finally barred Pakistan from the operational details that we finally nailed our man? As the first article notes, how many people died needlessly while Osama was hidden?