A cell phone found on the body of Osama bin Laden's trusted courier contained contact information to members of Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, a Pakistani Islamic military group believed to have ties to both Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani intelligence.
Moreover, some of the calls made on the cell phone were between Harakat members and Pakistani intelligence officials, reported New York Times.
However, there isn't any evidence so far that the cell phone calls were about harboring bin Laden.
Still, these cell phone contacts raises questions and may perhaps lead to further damning evidence against Pakistan's intelligence community. Here is what the Times said about Harakat and its relationship with Pakistani intelligence.
- Harakat and its predecessor were allowed to operate in Pakistan for at least 20 years now.
- Harakat had deep roots in the Abbottabad area (where bin Laden was living).
- Harakat leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, a close associate of bin Laden, lives unbothered by Pakistani authorities
- Harakat is very, very close to the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's version of the CIA], said a source
- NYTimes' sources speculated that the Pakistani intelligence community and military might have worked with Harakat to harbor bin Laden as an asset and a potential bargaining chip against the US.
Ever since details of bin Laden's death emerged, the US public and lawmakers have suspected that some members of the Pakistan government harbored him.
Bin Laden was discovered in a custom-built mansion that was larger than neighboring houses and had walls that were over 10 feet high. Moreover, it was located in Abbottabad, a city located less than 50 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and which hosts the Pakistani Military Academy (comparable to West Point in the US). Many retired Pakistani military personnel lived and retired there.
Bin Laden is believed to have lived in his Abbottabad mansion for at least five years. The location of bin Laden's compound and the fact that he lived there for years drew the ire and suspicions of the US.
Several US lawmakers, including Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, demanded answers from the Pakistani government and mulled the suspension of US aid to Pakistan.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the US has sent billions of dollars to Pakistan and is on track to sent billions more. Ironically, a bulk of that money is for supporting the Pakistani government's effort to combat terrorism.
The Pakistani government, on its part, has vehemently denied that it knowingly harbored bin Laden.