Pakistan’s security apparatus protected Osama Bin Laden for almost ten years, according to US government documents unearthed by WikiLeaks and first reported by the Daily Telegraph of UK.
Pakistan’s principal intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID), also allegedly helped to smuggle al-Qaeda terrorists through airport security and even helped send them into Afghanistan to fight next to the Taliban, the Wikileaks cables show.
Reportedly, US diplomats were told that Pakistan security or intelligence officials would tip off Osama whenever US troops were in his proximity.
Specifically, in December 2009, a senior counter-terrorism official from Tajikistan warned the U.S. diplomats that corrupt
Pakistani government authorities were intentionally hampering their search for Osama.
General Abdullo Sadulloevich Nazarov told the American officials that many people inside Pakistan knew of Osama’s whereabouts.
According to the leaked document: “In Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden wasn’t an invisible man, and many knew his whereabouts in North Waziristan, but whenever security forces attempted a raid on his hideouts, the enemy received warning of their approach from sources in the security forces.”
It is believed that the successful raid on Osama in the town of Abbotabad was carried out without the knowledge of the Pakistan government.
In addition, intelligence obtained from prisoners at Guantanamo Bay likely made US officials reluctant to share information with their Pakistani counterparts.
A document discovered by Wikileaks discussed as Afghan detainee named Saber Lal Melma with links to al Qaeda who allegedly cooperated with ISIS to help his compatriots escape Afghanistan after the US military commenced bombing raids in October 2001.
Reportedly, Melma handed over al-Qaeda operatives (primarily Arabs) to Pakistani security officials. who then smuggled across the border into Pakistan.
He was also allegedly overheard “bragging about a time when the ISID sent a military unit into Afghanistan, posing as civilians to fight alongside the Taliban against US forces”.
The file claims that Melma discussed “ISID's protection of Al-Qaeda members at Pakistan airports. The ISID members diverted Al-Qaeda members through unofficial channels to avoid detection from officials in search of terrorists.”
Separately, The Dawn newspaper of Pakistan reported that other Wikileaks documents indicated that Abdul Rahim Ghulam Rabbani, who is currently in detention at Guantanamo Bay, admitted to authorities that he served with Al Qaeda facilitator from early 2002 to Sept 2002. During that period he controlled several safe houses in Karachi and enjoyed direct contact with many prominent Al Qaeda members, including Osama bin Laden.
These Pakistani safe houses reportedly provided logistical support to many of the hijackers from Sept 11, 2001.
It is believed that some of Rabbani’s testimony provided help in locating Osama’s hideout.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.