ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army has strongly rejected a disclosure by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks that indicated that al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in routine contact with several officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) while hiding in his Abbottabad compound.
The claim was made by US intelligence analysis firm Stratfor in emails published by WikiLeaks. The website has so far published 200 emails of the firm and will publish around five million emails on Monday.
The firm provides an analysis of world affairs to major corporations, military officials and government agencies and was once likened by an American business magazine to a ‘shadow CIA’.
Straftfor was shown the information papers collected from Bin Laden’s compound after the US special forces raid on May 2, 2011, which resulted in the al Qaeda chief’s death, said one of the emails.
The email, from a Stratfor analyst, suggested that up to 12 ISI officials knew of Bin Laden’s high-walled three-storey compound in Abbottabad.
The email did not name the officials involved, but added that the US could use the information as a bargaining chip in post-raid negotiations with Islamabad, which had rebuked Washington after being embarrassed by the unilateral covert operation.
One email from a senior Stratfor employee to colleagues stated: “Mid to senior level ISI and Pak Mil with one retired Pak Mil general that had knowledge of the OBL arrangements and safe house.”
The email went on to say that the names and specific ranks of these generals were unknown to the writer, but added that the US intelligence may have that information.
According to the BBC, the information was allegedly obtained from material taken from the compound last May, according to the email exchange, which took place in the weeks after the al Qaeda chief’s death.
It is unclear if the information was passed on to the Pakistani government but the employee is quoted as saying “I would not pass the info to the GOP [government of Pakistan], because we can’t trust them,” according to the BBC.
The army, however, was quick to rebut the claim, terming it “rubbish”. In the past, the Pakistani government and military have avoided making public comments on WikiLeaks. However, the severity of the latest allegations appears to have compelled the military to react.
“Its rubbish and tantamount to kite flying; much farther from the truth,” Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Athar Abbas told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.
CEO of Stratfor George Friedman also questioned the authenticity of the ‘stolen’ emails.“Today WikiLeaks is publishing the emails that were stolen in December. This is a deplorable, unfortunate − and illegal − breach of privacy,” Friedman said in a statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 29th, 2012.