News24

CIA watched bin Laden from safe house

2011-05-06 10:01

Abbottabad - Extensive surveillance of Osama bin Laden's hideout from a nearby CIA safe house in Abbottabad led to his killing in a Navy Seals operation, US officials said, a revelation likely to further embarrass Pakistan's spy agency and strain ties.

The US officials, quoted by the Washington Post on Friday, said the safe house was the base for an intelligence-gathering operation that began after bin Laden's compound was discovered last August, and which was so exhaustive that the CIA asked Congress to reallocate tens of millions of dollars to fund it.

"The CIA's job was to find and fix," the Post quoted one US official as saying. "The intelligence work was as complete as it was going to be, and it was the military's turn to finish the target."

US officials told the New York Times that intelligence gathered from computer files and documents seized at his compound showed that bin Laden had for years directly orchestrated al-Qaeda attacks from the Pakistani town.

The fact that bin Laden was found in a garrison town - his compound was a stone's throw away from a major military academy - has embarrassed Pakistan and the covert raid by US commandos that led to his killing has angered its military.

On Thursday, the Pakistan army threatened to halt counter-terrorism co-operation with the United States, if it conducted another, similar unilateral strike.

Frayed relationship


A major Islamist party in Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami, called for mass protests on Friday against what it called a violation of sovereignty by the US raid. It also urged the government to end support for US battles against militants.

A senior Pakistani security official also charged that US troops had killed the unarmed al-Qaeda leader in "cold blood".

The criticism from Pakistan is likely to fray a relationship that Washington deems vital to defeating the al-Qaeda movement that bin Laden led and winning its war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

A US acknowledgment that bin Laden was unarmed when shot in the head - as well as the sea burial of his body, a rare practice in Islam - have also drawn criticism in the Arab world and Europe, where some have warned of a backlash.

Few Americans appear to have any qualms about how bin Laden was killed, and on Thursday, scores of people cheered President Barack Obama during a visit to New York's Ground Zero, site of the twin towers al-Qaeda levelled on September 11 2001, to comfort a city still scarred by attacks that killed nearly 3 000 people.

Obama said the killing of bin Laden "sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home, that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say".

Pakistan counters accusations

Friction between Washington and Pakistan has focused on the role of Pakistan's top security service, the ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir denied Pakistani forces or the ISI aided al-Qaeda. "The critique of the ISI is not only unwarranted, it cannot be validated," he said.

Lobbyists for Pakistan in Washington have launched an intense campaign on Capitol Hill to counter accusations that Islamabad deliberately gave refuge to bin Laden.

But many Americans are questioning how the al-Qaeda leader could live for years in a Pakistani town teeming with military personnel, 50km from the capital, Islamabad. Two US lawmakers have also complained about the billions in US civilian and military aid to impoverished Pakistan.

Seeking to repair ties, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Rome on Thursday that Washington was still anxious to maintain its alliance with Islamabad.

The Pakistani army and spy agency have supplied intelligence to the United States, arrested al-Qaeda figures and taken on militants in areas bordering Afghanistan.

Warning to US

"It is not always an easy relationship," Clinton said. "But, on the other hand, it is a productive one for both our countries and we are going to continue to co-operate between our governments, our militaries, our law-enforcement agencies."

But Pakistan's army, facing rare criticism at home over the US operation, warned the United States it would risk this co-operation if it conducted another assault.

Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani "made it clear that any similar action violating the sovereignty of Pakistan will warrant a review on the level of military/intelligence co-operation with the United States", the army said.

It was unclear if such attacks included drone strikes which the US military regularly conducts against militants along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Pakistan has denied harbouring any members of al-Qaeda.

The army also said it would conduct an investigation into failures by its intelligence to detect the world's most wanted man in its own backyard.

The CIA had spent several months monitoring bin Laden's hideout, watching and photographing residents and visitors from a rented house nearby, according to US officials quoted in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Misleading accounts

Observing from behind mirrored glass, CIA officers used cameras with telephoto lenses and infrared imaging equipment to study the compound, and they used sensitive eavesdropping equipment to try to pick up voices from inside the house and to intercept cellphone calls, the New York Times said. A satellite used radar to search for possible escape tunnels.

The US administration has refused to be drawn on details on the raid, but, in a further sign of fractious relations between the allies, senior Pakistani security officials told Reuters that US accounts had been misleading.

In Washington, people familiar with the latest US government reporting on the raid told Reuters on Thursday that only one of four principal targets shot to death by US commandos was involved in any hostile fire.

As the elite Navy Seals moved in on a guest house inside bin Laden's compound, they were met with fire and shot a man in the guest house. He proved to be Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, an al-Qaeda courier US intelligence agencies had long been tracking.

The commandos then entered the main residence, where they killed another courier and a son of bin Laden, the sources said. They finally shot and killed the al-Qaeda leader in a top-floor room after having earlier fired at him as he poked his head out of a door or over a balcony.

US officials originally spoke of a 40-minute firefight. The White House has blamed the "fog of war" for the changing accounts.

Afghan withdrawal

Obama visited New York to say he had made good on a 10-year-old promise by his predecessor, George W Bush, who declared at the smouldering wreckage of the World Trade Centre three days after the September 11 attacks, "The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

"We have been waiting for this for 10 years. It puts a little more American pride in people," said Al Fiammetta, aged 57, a safety engineer who said he had cleared debris at Ground Zero.

Obama signalled in an interview with the CBS television programme 60 Minutes that bin Laden's death confirmed his commitment to begin drawing down troops in Afghanistan in July.

"We don't need to have a perpetual footprint of the size that we have now," he said in a published excerpt.

Comments
  • Homo Sapien - 2011-05-06 10:16

    These blood thirsty Americans...

      ridgeback60 - 2011-05-06 10:49

      No, not bloodthirsty. Payback time for al Qaeda. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

      Cire - 2011-05-06 10:59

      Heavens, the very ideas that Americans should defend themselves - how outrageous!

      Homo Sapien - 2011-05-06 11:06

      @ridgeback60 - "Payback" is a relative concept. It all depends whether you are the bug or the windshield today. Remember that all of us will reap what we sow. In 2001, America was the bug, but now they are the windshield. Soon, they will be the bug again. This is what happens to people who "live by the sword". Who appointed America as the "protector of the world"? They don't have MY mandate. They are a nation of bloodthirsty, self-righteous, arrogant, murderous scum.

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-05-06 11:33

      Haha...it does not make it right but America don't need your mandate. They have thew ability to protect them selves with out the fear that these countries will openly declare war with them. Russia, China and a few Euro nations are the only place america may step carefully, but they don't need to give a dam what other nations thing. imagine if South Africa or any other nations besides the ones i have mentioned said "We are sick an tired of your arrogance, we are declaring war on you." They can do what they want because no one is able to stop them...thats the simple fact of the matter.

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-05-06 11:40

      excuse my horrible typos. Really need to proof read these posts

      Neles - 2011-05-06 11:51

      @Cire - Hell, I mean can't a nation defend itself these days? Like self defence against these bullies like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc - heavens

  • Lennox - 2011-05-06 10:17

    This would make a great movie (based on a true story), I'm pretty sure some director in Hollywood has already thought of the millions in revenue it would bring in.... with the title of maybe "Hide & Seek".

  • Hilary - 2011-05-06 10:38

    And they will continue to tell the world about how their intelligence was so water-tight before and during the operation...what crap! Show the proof.

      Cire - 2011-05-06 11:01

      What are you babbling about?

  • nick - 2011-05-06 10:41

    In 'cold blood' .... and the more than 3000 fully armed special trained troops that were in the World Trade Centre building on 9/11 ...... oops...sorry I meant unarmed normal civilians....silly me... ??

      kubs - 2011-05-06 10:59

      Id like to see you taking on world superpowers to fight against the killing of your people..lol that would make for a funny youtube video im sure..Osama was a millionaire who gave up a life of luxury to fight for his fully justifiable cause...I dont even think you wud even give up your DSTV for a cause..he did not have military jets, tanks etc to fight ..but he still achieved his goals..The man is a legend

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-05-06 11:42

      Kubs....i am fully against the ANC....so what i am going to do is build a bomb and place it in the nearest township. My goal is to kill as many people as possible...regardless of if they deserve it or not. Does that may me a legend?

      Homo Sapien - 2011-05-06 11:58

      @Oryz_ZA - It made Nelson Mandela President of South Africa...and a legend...

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-05-06 12:15

      Incorrect...those actions are not what made him a legend...it was his actions 27 years after that even which did.

      Homo Sapien - 2011-05-06 12:26

      @Oryx_ZA - Nope, it was Nelson Mandela's WILLINGNESS to suffer for an idealogy that made him a legend. Who knows, given 27 years in jail, Osama Bin Laden could have become president of the USA as well? Nelson Mandela did NOTHING for South Africa after his release...AIDS, crime poverty, corruption. That is his legacy.

      v3 - 2011-05-06 12:31

      Kubs, OBL was not living in abject poverty like the majority of the Arab world but in a purpose-built compond. Imagine if he had applied his inherited money and undoubted organisation skill to uplift the fellaheen

      k1200s - 2011-05-06 13:05

      @homo sapien. all i can say to your comments relating to mandela and osama,is,"jy kan lekke k...praat".its clear you have no or little knowledge of what goes on in the world.yr stuck in yr little mind with yr unrealistic ideas.mandela never started the aids epedemic or poverty.its people who cant control their dicks that started the aids epedemic.poverty is a direct result of a population who dont know when to stop making babies and together with the influx of foreigners,there is just not enough jobs for everyone!!!

  • Goldenk9 - 2011-05-06 10:47

    And the bloody thirst Jihadist!

  • lenand40 - 2011-05-06 10:49

    Isn't it funny that the US is embarrassed by Pakistan in January when they arrested Davis for killing 2 Pakistanis? The Americans had to pay over $2m to the families of the dead, so they would not press charges. Davis was outed as a CIA contractor and his arrest in Lahore brought the fragile relationship between the Americans and the Pakistanis to a head. The Americans claimed diplomatic immunity for Davis (I doubt if they would grant immunity to someone that kills Americans). Davis was released in March, in the middle of the operation to kill "Osama binLadin." So, what is the best way to get revenge, other than to claim binLaden was housed in a house in Pakistan, under the noses of the ISI, and only 30 miles from the Capital. Very convenient.

  • Cire - 2011-05-06 11:00

    About time the USA invaded the world centre of terrorism - Pakistan. India would be delighted to help by invading from the East.

  • MacDaKnife - 2011-05-06 11:03

    Do you think this was done without help from some Pakistanis. Killing is a sport for these Americans. The wild celebrations after Bin Laden was killed says much. No wonder they are useless when it come to major sporting events such as rugby soccer and cricket where the rest of world celebrate victory on the sporting fields rather than killing.

      Looking@SA - 2011-05-06 12:32

      You saw a few thousand americans, there are 300 million and I can tell you most did not celebrate Bin Laden's death. What all people celebrated was the end of a threat from a person who had declared war on men, women, and children. Read Bin Laden's letter outlining why he believed that he was justified in killing "innocents" Our celebrations were celebrations of relief allbeit we know that this changes nothing. That radical Islam is still at war with the west and its culture wherever that culture exists.

  • MadMatt_88 - 2011-05-06 11:06

    The best bit was when they landed from an amphibious craft, on black jeeps and rocket-packing motorbikes. And when the one guy slid down a rope shooting with his Uzi, and.... oh sh1t, that was Delta Force.

  • Zuwaad - 2011-05-06 11:09

    Blah Blah Blah ... the bull continues

  • sbouttell - 2011-05-06 11:25

    I fail to see how the Pakistani's can whine about their not being told of the operation. The HAD to have known that ABL was living in country. They also knew what would happen if the US found out they were harbouring a fugitive. I think they are fortunate that the US were so target specific.

      Pupuzela - 2011-05-06 11:53

      Yip, and a certain local minister new absolutely nothing about his wife being a drug dealer...

  • Unskinny Bob - 2011-05-06 11:33

    SHOW ME THE BODY!

      Rustique - 2011-05-06 12:54

      There WAS a picture of Bin Ladens body shown on either al Jazeera or Sky news early on the morning this story broke... (I can't remember which of the two I was watching for sure but think it was more likely to be Sky) somehow this picture has dissapeared or been covered up. At the time there were analysts giving their oppinion as to the authenticity of the photo, all seemed to think it was authentic and to me it looked very convincing.. comments were that 2 grey streaks in the beard, eye distance and mouth and face shape was the same.. only some doubt about nose shape but then he had been shot through the left eye which was pretty black and disfigured. Picture was not particularly gruesome and definately not the obama quoted 'brain matter" to put off the queasy. So folks the picture WAS shown, but then removed from TV.

  • MadMatt_88 - 2011-05-06 11:47

    Carpet-bombing pakistan is quite an appealing thought though.

  • Looking@SA - 2011-05-06 12:03

    @all "These blood thirsty Americans" and "who appointed Americans protectors of the world" A little history lesson. We were appointed in 1941 after Pearl Harbor when we entered WWII. We don't want to go to war we tried to stay out (if we stayed out I would have gotten to know my Uncle he's on a mountain in what was Burma beside his fighter aircraft), but ever since then the world has turned to us for protection and financial aid. We did some things wrong. Korea and Vietnam come to mind we should have let the communist north in both cases have the entire country, but we didn't and over 100,000 "blood thirsty" boys came home in boxes. We also did some things right. Almost single handedly we rebuilt Europe and Japan after WWII. Germany and Japan started that one where 40 million died we helped stop it. We stood up to Soviet Union and other communist in the cold war. Remember it was Stalin the communist who killed over 20 million of his own people and Pol Pot who killed over 2 million of his own people and China who killed countless numbers of it's own people in the Cultural Revolution in the 1970's. All of this was done to protect the purity and unity of their respective revolutions. But those Americans who stood up to these nations are the blood thirsty ones. And right or wrong on the Iraq thing but Saddam killed over 300,000 of his own. Excuse me for getting confused that we are the blood thirsty people of the world. Oh, forgot about the 800,000 in Rwanda.

  • Looking@SA - 2011-05-06 12:08

    @all "These blood thirsty Americans" and "who appointed Americans protectors of the world" A little history lesson. We were appointed in 1941 after Pearl Harbor when we entered WWII. We don't want to go to war we tried to stay out (if we stayed out I would have gotten to know my Uncle he's on a mountain in what was Burma beside his fighter aircraft), but ever since then the world has turned to us for protection and financial aid. We did some things wrong. Korea and Vietnam come to mind we should have let the communist north in both cases have the entire country, but we didn't and over 100,000 "blood thirsty" boys came home in boxes. We also did some things right. Almost single handedly we rebuilt Europe and Japan after WWII. Germany and Japan started that one where 40 million died we helped stop it. We stood up to Soviet Union and other communist in the cold war. Remember it was Stalin the communist who killed over 20 million of his own people and Pol Pot who killed over 2 million of his own people and China who killed countless numbers of it's own people in the Cultural Revolution in the 1970's. All of this was done to protect the purity and unity of their respective revolutions. But those Americans who stood up to these nations are the blood thirsty ones. And right or wrong on the Iraq thing but Saddam killed over 300,000 of his own. Excuse me for getting confused that we are the blood thirsty people of the world. Oh, forgot about the 800,000 in Rwanda.

  • Looking@SA - 2011-05-06 12:16

    @all "These blood thirsty Americans" and "who appointed Americans protectors of the world" A little history lesson. We were appointed in 1941 after Pearl Harbor when we entered WWII. We don't want to go to war we tried to stay out (if we stayed out I would have gotten to know my Uncle he's on a mountain in what was Burma beside his fighter aircraft), but ever since then the world has turned to us for protection and financial aid. We did some things wrong. Korea and Vietnam come to mind we should have let the communist north in both cases have the entire country, but we didn't and over 100,000 "blood thirsty" boys came home in boxes. We also did some things right. Almost single handedly we rebuilt Europe and Japan after WWII. Germany and Japan started that one where 40 million died we helped stop it. We stood up to Soviet Union and other communist in the cold war. Remember it was Stalin the communist who killed over 20 million of his own people and Pol Pot who killed over 2 million of his own people and China who killed countless numbers of it's own people in the Cultural Revolution in the 1970's. All of this was done to protect the purity and unity of their respective revolutions. But those Americans who stood up to these nations are the blood thirsty ones. And right or wrong on the Iraq thing but Saddam killed over 300,000 of his own. Excuse me for getting confused that we are the blood thirsty people of the world. Oh, forgot about the 800,000 in Rwanda.

  • Looking@SA - 2011-05-06 12:26

    Not sure why my post showed up 3 times. Must not be computer savvy.

  • v3 - 2011-05-06 12:29

    "Remember that all of us will reap what we sow." This Islamo-fascist mass-murderer has reaped what he sowed. What's the problem?

  • Peter - 2011-05-06 15:26

    Bin Laden is not dead. He is in the US custody.

  • Haashiem - 2011-05-06 16:39

    n all of u completely forgot about the fact that OBL is an ex-CIA official who helped the US during the war on the Soviet union

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