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Belmont Club

The End of the Trail?

May 1st, 2011 - 10:33 pm

Bill Roggio and Bill Ardolino report that Osama Bin Laden was believed killed by a SEAL raiding team which raided a safehouse 30 miles north of Islamabad. The Los Angeles Times says that members of Congress had received advance news of Bin Laden’s death and Dianne Feinstein managed to blurt it out to the press before President Obama’s announcement.

Members of Congress were briefed on the news by Vice President Joe Biden throughout the weekend, according to a Senate aide. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, related the news to mourners at a memorial service for political consultant Kam Kuwata. Feinstein said Obama was announcing it on TV as she spoke. However, she announced the news well before Obama began to speak.

The location of Bin Laden’s hide-out and the use of a U.S. raiding team on settled Pakistani territory raises a number of questions. First, has Pakistan been hiding Osama Bin Laden all along? Second, did the U.S. independently discover the location of Bin Laden? Third, was the information shared by some elements of Pakistani intelligence, assuming that his location was known to them, in exchange from some quid pro quo which has not yet been revealed? Or was the discovery of Bin Laden simultaneous, the result of the mutual and cooperative investigation of the ISI and U.S. intelligence?

If highly placed persons in Pakistan have been instrumental in hiding Bin Laden these ten years, it suggests that some of the real masterminds of September 11, far from lying dead, are still at large.

The chances that Pakistan was wholly innocent were somewhat thrown into doubt by the possible location of the safe house. “President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad.” What must have been the raid was reported on Pakistani media, putting Osama’s safe house very close to the Pakistani Military Academy in a location approximately 34°09′59″N 73°13′42E.

ABBOTTABAD: Three loud blasts were heard near the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul Road late Sunday night and a military helicopter also crashed. Sources told Geo News that heavy firing was heard in the area before the chopper crashed.

Windowpanes of the nearby buildings and houses were smashed due to the intensity of the blasts, the sources said. Eyewitnesses said first sound of heavy firing was heard and then there was a huge blast. Fire erupted at the scene of the occurrence and according to latest reports police and fire brigade teams were rushing towards the blast scene. Security forces cordoned off the entire area and military helicopters were also hovering over the area.

Roggio and Ardolino write, “A US intelligence official with knowledge of the raid told The Long War Journal that Pakistan, specifically its Inter-Services Intelligence agency, ‘could not be trusted’ with operational details of the raid.” But once the raid was underway Sunday Pakistani time, some minimum level of cooperation with the Pakistani authorities must have been in place both to keep the cover story going and to ensure that there were no clashes with local Pakistani forces.

Yet it seems inconceivable that Bin Laden’s hideout could have been constructed without the knowledge of at least some Pakistani officials. According to Bob Hennelly, quoting White House officials, the hideout was custom built for the most famous fugitive on earth in an area favored by retired Pakistani military officers.

Bin Laden was killed during a 40-minute raid at an elaborate compound in a secluded portion of Abbotobad, 35 miles north of Islamabad in Pakistan.

The three-story structure — believed by White House officials to be custom built for Bin Laden in 2005 — had no phone or Internet service and was surrounded by a perimeter with 12- and 18-foot high wall with barbed wire. It also had security gates.

Three families were residing in the home that was valued at $1 million dollars. The town is also a place where former Pakistani Army officers like to retire.

In light of these circumstances, the billions of dollars the Pakistani government has received in foreign aid and the expressions of friendship and willingness to cooperate in the War on Terror seem somewhat hypocritical to say the least. Of particular interest is the role of Pervez Musharraf, who was president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008. What did they know about September 11 and when did they know it?

Ironically the circumstances surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden tends to confirm the theory that terrorism, rather than being a spontaneous meme that floats above the planet, is in fact deeply rooted in the intelligence agencies and regimes of certain states. Thus, neither Hamas nor Hezbollah are creations of some kind of rage any more than than September 11 was wholly the result of some kind of amorphous resentment. Osama Bin Laden had backers; people with uniforms, ranks and the resources of bureaucracies behind them. Those who believe that the War on Terror is nothing but a law enforcement problem must ask themselves whether it is really rather larger than that.


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