'Incompetence' kept bin Laden hidden

2011-05-06 22:14
Washington - Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf on Friday blamed incompetence by his country's intelligence agencies for allowing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to live undetected in Pakistan for years.

"One can draw only two conclusions," Musharraf told National Public Radio.

"One is complicity from our intelligence agencies. The second is incompetence and I strongly believe in the latter," Musharraf said.

"I cannot imagine that there was complicity."

Pakistan has come under fire for failing to track down the world's most wanted man, who was shot dead in a US raid on Monday in a heavily fortified compound not far from Islamabad.

Reports have said the architect of the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States may have been living for five years in the town of Abbottabad, in the shadow of a top military academy, and close to the homes of many retired generals.

Asked whether he was upset that he did not know that bin Laden had been sheltering in Pakistan during his presidency, Musharraf said: "Frankly, yes."

"It is terrible," he replied, adding he wanted to ask Pakistani intelligence officials "why the hell did you not know?"

But he ruled out any complicity, saying that even US President Barack Obama had praised Pakistani intelligence services for providing vital information which led to bin Laden.

"If there was complicity, why would anyone pass on such intelligence?" he asked.

Musharraf, a former Pakistani military commando and army chief, resigned as president under pressure in 2008 after initially seizing power in a 1999 coup.

He now lives in self-imposed exile in London, but is wanted over the 2007 murder of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, accused of failing to provide her with enough security.

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