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

Pakistani investigators questioning Bin Laden's family find new clues about his earlier whereabouts.


Reuters May 07, 2011

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.

COMMENTS (32)

Mirza | 10 years ago | Reply @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 Kayani
alex | 10 years ago | Reply 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 ISI
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