Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which has come under global suspicion and condemnation for allegedly having links to terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, told BBC that it “failed” in its efforts to capture the terrorist chief Osama Bin Laden.
An official of the intelligence agency said that the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden was killed by US forces had been raided in 2003. At that time, ISI officials believed that another al-Qaeda operative, Abu Faraj al-Libi, was hiding out there.
The compound is only a few hundred yards from the Pakistan Military Academy.
The compound was not on our radar, it is an embarrassment for the ISI, the official said. We're good, but we're not God.
The ISI official also divulged some other details that appear to contradict accounts given by US forces, For example, he said that the American took away one person who was alive, possibly a son of Osama. He also claimed that there were up to 18 people in the compound during the attack and that survivors of the raid included a wife, daughter and eight or nine other children of Osama.
In contrast, the US has only said that it killed Osama and buried him at sea.
Moreover, the fact that the US government did not notify Pakistani officials of the raid on Osama’s compound has raised a multitude of alarms.
It is inconceivable that bin Laden was hiding in a place that is the alma mater of Pakistan's army without some people in our security establishment -- either military, intelligence or police -- being aware that he was there, Imtiaz Gul, director of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies, according to media reports.
It has caused some shock for Pakistanis to learn that he was in such a central place.
A BBC correspondent in Islamabad, Owen Bennet Jones, commented on how difficult it will be for the USD to ascertain the culpability of Pakistan’s military and intelligence in relation to possible aiding and abetting Osama.
“The difficulty the West has is in appreciating there are more than 20 different types of jihadi organizations, and al-Qaeda is just one of them,” he said. “The state has different policies towards different types of group and that subtlety is often lost on Western policy-makers”
He added: “Clearly there were people helping Bin Laden in this location... were they state employees, were they simply from Taliban-related groups, were they from the intelligence agencies? For all Americans may ask the questions, I doubt they will get any answers. There will be ambiguity about this and the Pakistanis will deny they had any knowledge whatsoever. The establishment here is made up of army leadership, intelligence agency leadership and some senior civil servants, and they have always run Pakistan, whether democratic governments or military governments, and those people do have connections with jihadis.”
Separately, UK Prime Minister David Cameron warned that Pakistan has much to answer for with respect to Osama’s presence in the country, in a luxurious compound near the capital.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” he said.
He added that the death of Osama might hasten the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan
“I don’t want British troops there any longer than one moment they need to be,” Cameron told BBC.
The Prime Minister made clear in the conversations that Britain would continue to work extremely closely with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to tackle the terrorist threat from al Qaida and from the Taliban, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister also underlined the importance of effective co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan against terrorism and extremism.