ISLAMABAD: A few months too late, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has revealed that Pakistani security agencies were a few days too late – saying they were ‘very close’ to capturing the slain al Qaeda kingpin, Osama bin Laden.
He told a judicial commission that security agencies were about to find Bin Laden’s compound when US special forces captured and killed the al Qaeda chief on May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad.
“We were about to catch Osama when US Navy SEALs raided his compound (in Abbottabad),” insiders told The Express Tribune while quoting Malik.
On Wednesday, Malik recorded his statement and submitted a detailed report regarding the incident to the commission, officials said.
He also briefed the commission on security and visa policies. Both policies were being reviewed after the raid, Malik told members of the commission, which resumed hearing at the cabinet division on Wednesday.
The Abbottabad commission had summoned the interior minister last month, seeking an explanation of the circumstances leading to Bin Laden’s killing in light of security agencies’ briefing to the interior ministry soon after the raid, which triggered a heated debate on the failure of the Inter-Services Intelligence.
The panel also held a detailed interactive session with senior officials of the interior ministry, particularly Interior Secretary Siddique-e-Akbar, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory Tariq Mehmood Pirzada, Inspector General Police Islamabad Bani Amin Khan, Director General Federal Investigation Agency Javed Iqbal, Director General Immigration & Passport Syed Wajid Ali and chairman of the national counter-terrorism authority, according to a statement issued by the commission.
The commission has already recorded statements of the heads of military and civil intelligence agencies, the chief of the Pakistan Air Force, the director-general military operations, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, present and former foreign ministers and secretaries, and the wives and children of Bin Laden who were taken into protective custody from the three-storey compound in Abbottabad.
The meeting of the commission was also attended by member Lt General (retd) Nadeem Ahmed. Other members of the commission, former ambassador Ashraf Jahangir Qazi and Abbas Khan, could not attend the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.
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