A report prepared for the Pakistani government following the raid that killed Osama bin Laden heavily criticized the “gross incompetence” of the government in not detecting bin Laden on their soil for 11 years and called the response to the US raid a “national disgrace.”
It finds that Pakistan’s intelligence establishment had “closed the book” on bin Laden by 2005, and was no longer actively pursuing intelligence that could lead to his capture.
The 336-page Abbottabad Commission report, obtained by Al Jazeera, blasts the government and military for a “national disaster” over its handling of bin Laden and calls on the leadership to apologize to the people of Pakistan for their “dereliction of duty.”
The report, never released publicly, was ordered after the May 1, 2011, raid by U.S. special forces on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. The al-Qaeda leader was killed and his body removed during the raid.
According to Al Jazeera, the report finds the government’s intention in conducting the inquiry was likely aimed at “regime continuance, when the regime is desperate to distance itself from any responsibility for the national disaster that occurred on its watch.” It says that the inquiry was likely “a reluctant response to an overwhelming public and parliamentary demand.”
The report blames “Government Implosion Syndrome” for lack of intelligence on bin Laden’s nine-year residence in Pakistan and its response to the U.S. raid.
The commission says Bin Laden and his family were apparently able to stay and travel in Pakistan without detection because he had a small, but dedicated, network “that met their every need.”
“They kept a very low profile and lived extremely frugally,” the report says. “They never exposed themselves to public view. They had the cover of the two Pakistani Pashtun couriers cum security guards. They had minimum security. OBL successfully minimized any ‘signature’ of his presence. His minimal support blended easily with the surrounding community.”
Al Jazeera quotes the report as saying the commission finds that “culpable negligence and incompetence at almost all levels of government can more or less be conclusively established.”
This report still may be a whitewash. The question of whether the government of Pakistan — or the intelligence agency ISI — knew that bin Laden was in the country cannot be answered with any certainty. Al-Qaeda could have turned on the Pakistani government at any time under General Musharraf and the idea that they lost track of a dangerous fugitive like bin Laden as far back as 2005 just doesn’t track.
But the report didn’t hold anything back when it came to the Pakistan government’s response to the US raid:
The whole episode of the U.S. assassination mission of May 2, 2011 and the Pakistan government’s response before, during and after appears in large part to be a story of complacency, ignorance, negligence, incompetence, irresponsibility and possibly worse at various levels inside and outside the government.
Our boys caught the Pakistani military fast asleep — and a good thing they did. It would have gotten very confusing and probably bloody if the military had intercepted our SEAL team before they were able to leave Pakistani air space.
You can read a copy of the report here.