Obama Got Osama: The View from Pakistan

May 05, 2011
*Special to asia!
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When the world's most famous terrorist is located and killed in his comfortable compound in your country, lots of questions emerge. Like, who did it, really?

720 A Pakistani newspaper tells passersby in Karachi about the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden (Source: Shakil Adil/AP)


It has been making the rounds yet again.

“It” is that spectacular statement from former Pakistani President Benzair Bhutto, the assassinated wife of the current president in late 2007, which has now again been making the rounds.

Speaking to David Frost on al-Jazeera, she revealed that bin Laden had been killed by Omar Sheikh, the Islamic militant best known for masterminding the kidnapping and murder of reporter Daniel Pearl.

See it here (for the time-constrained, the statement comes on after 2:00).

In a rather shoddy professional moment, veteran journalist David Frost neglected to request for more details.

In all likelihood, the late Mrs Bhutto most probably mis-spoke. But that does not stop many from asking, “Osama bin Laden died again?”

Without a body and only the official American version of events to go by, theories abound as to what truly went down in that three-storey house behind the three- to six-metre walls.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that it may not have been the Americans that killed bin Laden, but one of his bodyguards.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that it may not have been the Americans that killed bin Laden, but one of his bodyguards.

From a front-page report:

From the scene of the gunbattle it doesn’t look like he could have been killed at point blank range from such a close angle, while offering resistance,” said an official, who visited the scene of the night assault soon after the departure of the US assault team from the sprawling compound in Thanda Choa, now called Bilal Town, at stone’s throw from Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.


Regardless of who killed him – in this instance – there was denial both within the U.S. and the Pakistani government, that Islamabad knew that the al-Qaeda leader was there.

There was “no evidence” the Pakistan had any knowledge of it, said the Obama administration. Yet there remains much skepticism on what the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment knew.

Kamran Shafi points in the Pakistani Dawn newspaper:

... Osama was living with his youngest wife and some other members of his family and tens of armed guards in a house eight times bigger than all the other houses in the area: walls 12 feet high; no telephone connection; no cellphone signals emitting from the house, et al.

I mention this because the quite preposterous house should have stuck out like a sore thumb and been the subject of some suspicion on the part of the Mother of All Agencies which routinely bugs people’s telephones and has the equipment to pinpoint a cellphone to within 10 metres.

However, we are being told to believe that no one in Pakistan, not the Hazara police, not the IB, not the ISI, not MI, had the slightest idea just who lived in that absurd house located not far from the Pakistan Military Academy where officer cadets, the future leaders of the Pakistan Army, are trained.


According to an editorial in the same newspaper, al-Qaeda members supposedly hiding in the tribal regions at the Afghan- Pakistani borders are possibly mere “foot soldiers and second- and third-tier leaders”.

Several key operatives of the global jihadi network have been picked up from Pakistan`s urban areas. Perhaps the first of such high-profile catches was Abu Zubaydah, picked up by American and Pakistani intelligence operatives from a `safe house` in Faisalabad in March 2002.

Other raids netted Ramzi Binalshibh, who was apprehended in September 2002 following a shoot-out in Karachi`s Defence neighbourhood, while in March 2003 Khalid Shaikh Mohammad was picked up from Rawalpindi. Later in the same year, Khalid`s relative and fellow Al Qaeda operative Ammar Al Baluchi was arrested from Karachi. In 2005, Abu Faraj Al Libi was seized in Mardan while more recently Umar Patek, a suspected member of the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, was captured in Abbottabad.


The Daily Times warned of reprisal attacks within Pakistan for Osama bin Laden's death.

With Pakistan allowing the Americans to conduct counter-terror operations here, we are bound to be targeted in very painful ways.

While his death is a definite blow to the militants, it provides them with the perfect chance for bloody retribution. The US and its allies — especially Pakistan where bin Laden was killed — will be sure terror targets. It is little wonder that the US is on red alert security. Pakistan had also better watch out. We have been aiding the Americans and have been victims of home-grown terror and militants who have idolised bin Laden. With Pakistan allowing the Americans to conduct counter-terror operations here, we are bound to be targeted in very painful ways.


The Nation called for accountability from the Pakistani leadership on how bin Laden had been able to seek refuge in the country.

...our authorities need to explain to the nation how a high-profile terrorist like Osama was able to find a hiding place in Abbottabad. The people also have the right to know from our government and security forces why they were not able to take action against him and why the American forces were allowed to violate our sovereignty.


In an opinion piece in The News, Amir Zia wrote:

dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for theasiamag.com, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

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