Most of the details that the White House provided about 2011 Abbottabad raid by US Navy SEALs are “lies” and that America did not act alone in staging Osama raid but was helped by Pakistani military and ISI, veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has claimed.
In a new detailed account on May 2011 Osama raid, published in the London Review of Books, US journalist Seymour Hersh has made some explosive revelations about the mission that culminated in the killing of one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist Osama bin Laden.
The new account claims that Osama was ISI’s prisoner in Abbottabad since 2006 and Pak Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI both knew of the planned US raid in advance and also made sure that the two helicopters delivering the US Navy Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms”
Hersh has cited “a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad” as his source.
In one of the most sensational revelations, Hersh rejects the IS claim that it got information on Osama by tracking his couriers.
Hersh writes that the crucial lead about Osama’s whereabouts came in the form of a “walk-in” by a former Pakistani intelligence officer, who was ready to divulge Osama’s address to the CIA in exchange of USD 25 million bounty on the head of the al-Qaeda chief.
“It began with a walk-in. In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001,” writes American investigative journalist Seymour M Hersh.
The intelligence official, Hersh said, was a military man who is now living in Washington and working for the CIA as a consultant.
The US confirmed the information provided by the official and put the compound under satellite surveillance. Americans later informed the ISI which set up a cell in Ghazi, Tarbela, where “one man from the SEALs and two communicators” practised the raid before executing the operation, Hersh said, adding that it was difficult decision but Pakistan was ultimately taken on board and told about the script to kill Osama.
Hersh said that whatever the Obama administration told about the operation to kill Osama was part of fiction.
“The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll,” Hersh writes.
When the Americans contacted the Pakistani government and asked for Osama, the ISI insisted that he be killed and his death should be announced a week after the operation.
Hersh said the Saudi government also knew about Osama’s presence it Abbottabad and had advised the Pakistanis to keep him as a prisoner. “Osama was an ISI prisoner and never moved except under their supervision,” he said.
The Americans were required to say that the al-Qaeda chief was found in a mountainous region in the Hindu Kush so that neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan could be blamed for keeping him, Hersh said, adding that the ISI wanted him dead because “they did not want a witness”.
Hersh said President Barack Obama did not consult Gen Kayani and Gen Pasha before releasing the cover story that he shared with his nation in a live broadcast.
“The cover story trashed Pakistan. It was very embarrassing for them,” said Hersh. “Pakistan has a good army, not a bad army, but the cover story made it look bad.”
Hersh also said that Dr Shakil Afridi, the physician now jailed in Peshawar for helping CIA trace down Osama’s hideout, was a CIA asset but he did not know about the operation. Afridi was used as a cover to hide the real story, he said.
Osama was killed in Abbottabad on the night of May 2, 2011, in a covert raid conducted by US Navy Seal.