Bin Laden 'may have lived in Pakistan for over 7 years'

Published: May 7, 2011

Pakistani investigators questioning Bin Laden's family find new clues about his earlier whereabouts. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Osama bin Laden may have lived in Pakistan for over seven years before being shot dead by US forces, senior Pakistani security officials said on Saturday, a disclosure that could further anger key ally Washington over the presence of enemy number one in the country.

One of Bin Laden’s widows told Pakistani investigators that the world’s most wanted man stayed in a village for nearly two and a half years before moving to the nearby garrison town of Abbottabad, where he was killed.

The wife, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, told investigators earlier that Bin Laden and his family had spent five years in Abbottabad, before one of the world’s most elaborate and expensive manhunts ended there on Monday.

“Amal (bin Laden’s wife) told investigators that they lived in a village in Haripur district for nearly two and a half years before moving to Abbottabad at the end of 2005,” one of the security officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Abdulfattah, along with two other wives and several children, were among 15-16 people detained by Pakistani authorities at the compound after the raid.

Pakistan, heavily dependent on billions of dollars of US aid, is under heavy pressure to explain how Bin Laden could have spent so many years undetected a few hours drive from its intelligence headquarters in the capital.

Suspicions have deepened that Pakistan’s pervasive Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, which has a long history of contacts with militant groups, may have had ties with Bin Laden – or at least some of its agents did.

Pakistan has dismissed such suggestions and says it has paid the highest price in terms of human life and money supporting the US war on militancy launched after Bin Laden’s followers staged the September 11, 2001, attacks on America.

Pakistani leaders were already facing a staggering number of problems before revelations that Bin Laden was in their backyard for years raised new questions about their commitment to fighting militancy. Al Qaeda-linked Taliban militants who seem to stage suicide bombings at will remain a major security threat despite several military offensives against their bases in the forbidding mountainous border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The economy is stagnant and in order to keep it afloat the government must impose politically unpopular economic reforms to keep money from an $11 billion International Monetary Fund loan flowing to Pakistan.

And Pakistanis are growing impatient with high food prices, poor services and infrastructure, and an education system that is so flawed that many parents are forced to send their children to Islamic seminaries that spread hard-line ideologies.

Anger and suspicion between Washington and Islamabad over the raid in Abbottabad, 30 miles (50 km) from the Pakistani capital, showed no sign of abating.

The New York Times on Saturday quoted Pakistani officials as saying the Obama administration had demanded Pakistan disclose the identities of some of its top intelligence operatives as Washington seeks to find out whether they had contact with Bin Laden or his agents before the raid on his compound.

The officials were providing details of what the Times called a tense discussion between Pakistani officials and a US envoy in Pakistan on Monday.

A Pakistani security official denied the report, which he called “untrue” and “malicious”.

Many in Washington suspect Pakistani authorities had been either grossly incompetent or playing a double game in the hunt for Bin Laden and the two countries’ supposed partnership against violent Islamists.

As it engages in damage control over Bin Laden’s presence, Pakistan’s government must prepare for the possibility that supporters angered by Bin Laden’s death will hit back. Since al Qaeda has ties with the Pakistani Taliban, this country could make an easy target.

Al Qaeda has acknowledged that Bin Laden is dead, dispelling doubts by some Muslims the militant group’s leader had really been killed by US forces, and vowed to mount more attacks on the West. The announcement on Friday by the militant organisation appeared intended to show its followers around the globe the group had survived as a functioning network.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • May 7, 2011 - 2:59PM

    Osama hid successfully for 5-7 years in this house and never left or even came in lawn. He made a wonderful and unbelievable effort for hiding. ISI, CIA, MI-6, NSA and so on…. could not locate him till ISI picked a mobile phone call made in Arabic to Saudi Arabia form this house by using an under observation SIM. ISI did pass promptly information of this call to CIA. In past, 10-12 calls in Arabic were made through same SIM, were also shared with CIA in last 4-5 years. ISI is focusing on Talibans and specially TTP so they have put maximum resources for Pashto, Punjabi, Hindko and Urdu language calls and Arabic is left to CIA and NSA.

    **On this tip US probed and reached to OBL ?**

    It is commonly asked that how come he lived so close to Military Academy and was never found ? Most of civilians fail to understand that PMA is not an Operational Unit or Headquarters of Pak Army PMA is a training establishment only. Likewise FF, Baloch and AMC Regimental Centres located in Abbottabad are also Training Establishments. Training Establishments do ensure their own safety and security through many means but do not enough resources or designed to have a larger picture of surroundings like a Divisional Headquarters or Corps Headquarters.
    The bigger size of compound comparing with surrounding homes, apparently, look suspicious but the property belong to 2 pathan brothers living with their families. Pathans always like to have such big houses with high perimeter walls if they can have enough land and resources. Many houses of this or even bigger size had been built by affluent Pathan families in Jinnah Colony and other areas of Abbottabad. This house was built in 2005 and inhabitants lived peacefully so nothing was to worry about. In fact, if something was suspicious, it was the duty of their neigbours to report to local police about that but no one saw anything suspicious activity and no one reported. It is a common practice in Hazara that Pathan families live secluded due to language difference and it is taken as normal.

    House to house search is never made once Prime Minister or other VVIP visit to some area. Only house overlooking the venue are checked that no sniper is there to shoot down VVIP. Osama’s house was much away and was not in direct line of sight to the Parade Ground of PMA. Moreover, the inhabitants of the house were living peacefully and nothing was suspicious so I see no reason of knocking its door if Gilani or Kiyani are visiting the area. Is such practice is carries out in Multan or Peshawar or elsewhere ? Respect of privacy is equally important … specially in the era of free press.Recommend

  • Ammar
    May 7, 2011 - 3:10PM

    ok now it has been confirmed by sources that he was living in pakistan for 7 years my humble request to Mr President is he should be given EXCLUSIVE Pakistani nationality ….. Recommend

  • Massileaks
    May 7, 2011 - 3:13PM

    The world should demand the name of CIA top operatives who are involved in terrorist activisties too:

    So a naturalized U.S. citizen Faisal Shehzad plots terrorist attacks while living in America, buys bomb related material, communicates with his criminal friends while in America, plants the bomb at Time Square, get back home, buys tickets, clears security of a big airport and boards the plane…all this done under the NOSE OF American intelligence organization CIA. The most experienced and technically advanced spy organization. The organization which is so technically advanced that it can track a terrorist thousand of miles away in waziristan and sends a drone to kill. The organization which located Osama bin laden in Pakistan without help from Pakistani spy agency. YET this same organization failed to arrest Faisal till he had boarded the plane. Hummmm it’s hard to believe that CIA didn’t know of Faisal plans or whereabouts.Recommend

  • May 7, 2011 - 3:27PM

    Didn’t someone say, OBL’s family was brought in by the Marines to Abbotabad and killed him there to put the blame on Pakistani ISI?Recommend

  • NOOR
    May 7, 2011 - 3:47PM

    So it means the killing of Usama Bin Ladin is the failure of ISI (not the presence for 7 years)Recommend

  • Bashir Hasan
    May 7, 2011 - 3:54PM

    American taxpayers trillion of dollars are being wasted in fruitless war in Afghanistan to augment its war industry.It is their failure of intelligence who are in every inch of this region and Pakistan to not trace Osama.Let Bush and Obama explain their failure to their countrymen and hundred of billion dollars wasted and millions of innocent killed.Recommend

  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    May 7, 2011 - 4:13PM

    With such hospitalilty we can reap rewards in in both the worlds.Recommend

  • Rahil
    May 7, 2011 - 4:24PM

    Means OBL is already dead in 2008 this mission is done for ISI.Recommend

  • Rahil
    May 7, 2011 - 4:41PM

    Means OBL is already dead in 2008 and this mission was by ISI………Recommend

  • Much amused
    May 7, 2011 - 4:42PM

    @S. Ali Raza:
    Get real man. Which world are you living in?Recommend

  • Fahd Shah
    May 7, 2011 - 4:55PM

    Previous CIA Head admitted that Osama was dead in 2001. as no tape was revealed after that. then why are they killing him again…. may after 3 to 4 years before the elections in America he will be killed again….Recommend

  • Arslan
    May 7, 2011 - 5:06PM

    @S. Ali Raza:
    Stop conspiracy theories. The United States of America – may its name be glorified – are the torch-bearers of integrity, dignity, liberty & hamburgers ; they can’t to these kinds of tricks in Pakistan – oh, well, they did some nasty stuff in South America, ya know CIA terrorizing the population in Nicaragua and putting the blame on ‘rebels’ or kicking the Iranian democratically-elected Mossadegh’s back ‘coz he didn’t want to sell oil at low-price, amongst others… but Obama requested pardon to the Iranian population recently. 60 years, one dictator, one revolution later.

    In brief, Bin Laden was playing golf with Kayani & cricket with Zardari since 7 years, and all the intelligence services didn’t found him because Pakistan refused CIA & all (like Raymond Davis) to go in Pakistan. Because of Pakistan, USA, India, and Mars have a lot of shaheeds ; we’ll have to pay the price, like stop having the 100 billions annually aid when we were spending 10 rupees on buying Bin Laden’s daily rotis.
    It’s also the proof that we can’t protect our nuclear assets, by the way, but that’s not the point.Recommend

  • meekal ahmed
    May 7, 2011 - 5:17PM

    @Khalid Masood:
    Why are you trying to defend the indefensible?Recommend

  • hamid
    May 7, 2011 - 5:20PM

    Seems like ISI and Osama Bin Laden were hand in glove.Recommend

  • Bubbles
    May 7, 2011 - 5:46PM

    The moot question is why did OBL stay in Pakistan? Was he sure no one would touch him? All this talk about SIMs and info to US is a face-saving attempt. If it was really true, USA would have taken Pak administration into confidence.Recommend

  • S Khan
    May 7, 2011 - 5:55PM

    @Khalid Masood:

    ‘Many houses of this or even bigger size had been built by affluent Pathan families in Jinnah Colony and other areas of Abbottabad’ .—–Check who else is living in those houses…may be few more ISI assets ..like Osama.Recommend

  • May 7, 2011 - 6:36PM

    @S Khan:

    I mentioned people who are living there even before your birth and the birth of Al-Qaeda.

    Abbottabad is a beautiful and peaceful locality – kind of hill resort on plains. People from all over Pakistan come and spend sometime in hot summer.

    Many pathan families live there permanently and they are not terrorists.

    I am surprised that while talking about terrorism Indians forget one of its important facet and that is State Terrorism

    Worst form of State Terrorism by India can be seen in Jammu and Kashmir where more than 100,000 people have be murdered by Indian Army and Para Military Forces. Traces of same kind of terrorism can also be seen in eastern and southern part of India. Recommend

  • May 7, 2011 - 6:40PM

    @meekal ahmed:

    Let me do that. For me the honour and name of my Country, ISI and Pak Armed Force are important.

    What to talk of defending here by participating in discusiion, I am happy to lay my life for that.Recommend

  • james dean
    May 7, 2011 - 6:44PM

    its shame he found inside near military

    why american tax payer gives money to pak

    for 1 man you embrass yourself in front of world

    you are your biggest enemy

    in foolishness you dont see other things

    do people dont go to check coolers water tanks are covered for malaria

    in that house nobody chechked?Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    May 7, 2011 - 6:48PM

    Who said that ‘Looking both ways’ has been proved right.Recommend

  • Mahmood
    May 7, 2011 - 7:08PM

    Whether it’s 5 years or 7 years isn’t the issue. The problem is that the people of Pakistan don’t seem to be upset that OBL was operating Al Qaeda comfortably under the nose of the miitary – your just upset that the American’s violated your sovereignty and caught you in a bold face lie. It’s a unique viewpoint and one that the rest of the World will have little (if any) symathy for.Recommend

  • malik
    May 7, 2011 - 7:19PM

    @Khalid Masood:

    Masood saab, you have been valiantly defending the ghairat of our glorious army, thanks for that !!

    Meanwhile, I have just two questions for you:

    —1. In how many countries, Army does business of bakery, banking and building?
    —2. Why is that our Army is consistently biting dust? (East Pakistan, Kargil, OBL to name a few)

    Considering the shame the Army has brought upon us ordinary citizens, Why should we trust the Army any more?Recommend

  • mansoor
    May 7, 2011 - 9:23PM

    Can u Digest this ?Recommend

  • mansoor
    May 7, 2011 - 9:26PM

    i can not digest these stories any more.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmed
    May 7, 2011 - 9:46PM

    Why he was in Pakistan? I thought he was Taliban’s guest. They refused to handover him and cited tradition of protecting their guests. Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 7, 2011 - 11:59PM

    For the defenders of army and ISI, with so much proof against them, all I can say is that you deserve each other. They have failed to detect the presence of Indian armored division moving near Lahore in 1965. They had the worst defeat and historic surrender in East Pakistan, and then Kargil, now OBL episode. How many more failures and surrenders would it take for some to come to terms with the truth.

    As we say, “fooled me once shame on you, fooled me twice shame on me”. Some never wake up from their dreams, just like our army was caught napping. Recommend

  • May 8, 2011 - 12:24AM

    @Mahmood:

    OBL and USA both are aggressor in my reckoning. Both violated Pakistan sovereignty.

    We need to face the crisis very sensibly and in a mature way instead of accusing other like college girl’s fight. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza
    May 8, 2011 - 1:00AM

    @Khalid Masood:
    With all due respect Sir Are you telling us all that a high value target was living for 7 year next to PMA and no body didn’t even bother to check who it was with high walls. Were PMA security thinkin Oh its just tall building press uses to photograph parades in PMA ?
    With this Kinna security lapse who else watches our missiles and Nuclear facilities.
    Now i am sorry to say this but this is not 2+2=4. It looks like we kept some high value targets for high times to trade them or swap them. But now these cards are snatched we are choosing the lesser of the two evils like we did right after 9/11 2001.

    Which even if is hard to swallow is the right choice for our foreign complexities.Recommend

  • Massileaks
    May 8, 2011 - 3:01AM

    For those who say that how come he wasn’t living in waziristan or tora bora:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7519039.stm

    History has many examples of criminals living right under the noses. NATO had a whole team looking for this man for 10 years! Again Nato is more advanced than ISI with experts from so many nations and yet it took them 10 years and fluke.

    I am not defending ISI incompetence but lets be realistic. We are not just fighting Al-qaida but Pakistani Taliban, Afghanistan Taliban, Laskhar taiba and many hidden enemies. Osama was America most wanted but our most wanted list includes those who have killed thousand Pakistanis in swat and other areas.Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 8, 2011 - 11:09AM

    Looks like after biting the dust for several days, some ISI and army touts and benefactors have come out defending them. As many have said this army has been surrendering to Indians too many times. They eat up most of the budget with very little to show in return. They have taking action against every popular party and its leaders and committed multiple acts of high treason and never got punished for any of their atrocities.

    Now after a few days of humiliation they have come out with their touts to defend them as a full time job. However, the US is not going to easily forgive and forget them. The whole world knows who has been playing games with the civilized world. They are no fools. Unless Pakistan army goes and take out terrorists from N. Waziristan and show that they have changed nobody would give them a dime of my tax money. Recommend

  • alex
    May 9, 2011 - 3:10AM

    It is really shocking ordinary pakistanis do not even understand what is going on. PAK ISI is state within your state. They are free to do anything as long as it is against India. Now Why OSAMA was in Pakistan? Simple. He was the cash cow. 10s of billion dollars flowed…and PAK ISI send terrorist to kill their own shia people to show the world Pakistan is itself a victim. Then pakistan balme RAW for all that. pakistanis really should wake up and remove their army. Simple as that. But pak needs passive army otherwise pak will be split into 3.
    The best way Pakistan come back to normalcy is by peace with India. Simple as that.

    Or both india and pak will get destroyed for their stupidity and west will laugh at these brown monkeys and sign of relief of reducing world population.

    Pakistanis should start using their brain. Islam or any religion is for poor not for rich. Rich has no religion ..eitheri they are arab or priests in vatican. All SHOW,.

    Pakistan can be Singapore or even better if they spend their time to improve infrastructure and show india how it is done.

    Abolish Terror Factories. Remove PAK ISIRecommend

  • Mirza
    May 9, 2011 - 8:11AM

    @alex:
    Some of the more enlightened Pakistanis fully understand what you said. Here is an example of that:

    “All praise is for the Almighty who bestowed sovereignty upon the army, then made the people subservient to the army and the army subservient to its own interests” — Justice M R KayaniRecommend

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