One of the looming questions surrounding the fact that Osama bin Laden was found within a suburb of the capitol city of Islamabad is whether the Pakistanis knew that bin Laden was in that compound. Of course the media is feeding the speculation that Pakistan did indeed know who the occupant of the compound in Abbottabad was and that they were either knowingly protecting him or blissfully ignoring the fact that the world’s most wanted terrorist was living there as a point of pride. After all, bin Laden has deep ties with Pakistan dating back decades with the Mujahideen as do many people in Pakistan and Afghanistan (including Karzai).
Pakistan has denied knowing about bin Laden’s whereabouts and seemed just as surprised as the rest of the world was that he was hiding in plain sight and not in a cave somewhere in the mountainous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan as has been the common perception since Tora Bora. It’s within the realm of possibility that Pakistanis; whether local residents or high ranking officials, knew or suspected that there was a high value target living in Abbottabad but I doubt if they were intentionally hiding that fact. It would be highly unlikely for even a small population of people with that knowledge to keep that a secret for so long. Someone would have eventually bragged about it to a friend, used that information for personal gain, or just plain raised the alarm to authorities. Let’s face it; there was a $25 million bounty on his head. That’s more than we give some governments in assistance.
One has to also keep in mind that Pakistan has been the most influential ally in helping the United States locate and detain other terrorist operatives. They’ve brought in more operatives than any other US ally. Of course, that may simply be a factor of being the country that has the most terrorists hiding within its borders.
Panetta’s reason for keeping Pakistan out of the loop is a plausible out for the Pakistani Government. There could have been a possible leak that would have thwarted the mission. It would seem wise for the US Government to extend the Pakistani government the benefit of the doubt in the interest of keeping them a close ally. Terrorists seem to like it there. And, after all, Pakistan is a nuclear power in the region and we could use all the friends we can buy/get in that part of the world these days. Better us than patiently waiting al Qaeda members.
- Pakistan Says It Had No Idea Where Osama Bin Laden Was Hiding (businessinsider.com)
- New suspicions of Pakistan’s role in evasion (boston.com)
- What Did Pakistan Know? Ctd (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Finding Bin Laden Raises Questions About Pakistan’s Complicity (time.com)
- Panetta Says Pakistan Could Have Jeopardized Mission (politicalwire.com)