Pakistan probably knew Bin Laden’s whereabouts, says former ISI chief

Published: February 11, 2015
File photo of Osama Bin Laden. PHOTO: REUTERS

File photo of Osama Bin Laden. PHOTO: REUTERS

File photo of Osama Bin Laden. PHOTO: REUTERS General Asad Durrani is questioned on Al Jazeera's Head to Head. PHOTO: AL JAZEERA

DOHA: Lt. General Asad Durrani (retd), who served as the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as director-general from 1990-1992, has told Al Jazeera that Pakistan probably knew about al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts leading up to his capture in Abbotabbad in May 2011.

“I cannot say exactly what happened but my assessment […] was it is quite possible that they [the ISI] did not know but it was more probable that they did. And the idea was that at the right time, his location would be revealed,” Durrani said.

Durrani implied that Pakistan would have only exchanged knowledge of his location in a quid pro quo deal.

“The right time would have been, when you can get the necessary quid pro quo – if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States,” he said.

When asked if the house that Bin Laden was residing in was protected by the ISI, Durrani said: “If ISI was doing that, then I would say they were doing a good job. And if they revealed his location, they again probably did what was required to be done.”

Officially, the ISI claimed that they did not harbor Bin Laden and played no part in the 2011 raid. Nonetheless, many have questioned how the al Qaeda chief could have avoided the intelligence agency till the years to his discovery.

The Abbottabad Commission, set up by the government to investigate the raid, charged the military and the government with “gross incompetence” leading to “collective failures” that allowed Bin Laden to reside in Pakistan unnoticed. “The admission of incompetence was probably done on political reasons… As far as the people of Pakistan were concerned, it was going to be very uncomfortable for them that their government, you know, is in cahoots now with the United States and gets hold of Osama bin Laden,” Durrani said.

Following his candid statements on the Bin Laden raid, he added, “Except that I do not know what happened, I do not know what happened.”

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (55)

  • Feb 11, 2015 - 10:51AM

    When Pamera going to launch DTH in Pak ???Recommend

  • Gandhi
    Feb 11, 2015 - 10:56AM

    Oh my god ! I hope the Pakistani’s reading this realize that when they complain about the world not acknowledging its loss of about 50,000 citizens in terrorism related issues, how difficult it is for the world to look at Pakistan with any sort of kindness.

    This is the reason why the world keeps pointing to you, that you are reaping what you had sowed, and this is why the level of trust is abysmal. I just pray that the people of Pakistan realize that this situation is only going to get worse if they don’t act now, and that you must act without playing any games.

    Please act, and get rid of this extremist/jihadist mindset that has percolated to every last section of your society and culture.

    Please Don’t do it for the rest of the world, but Do it to ensure a bright future for your children, Do it for the people of your country, Do it so that you don’t further bring disrepute to your religion,Do it for your family, Do it for your self, but just do something before it is too late.Recommend

  • Feb 11, 2015 - 11:03AM

    For how long will civilians bear the burden of the sins of these adventurers in the name of the nation’s security and fighting so-called Indian hegemony?Recommend

  • KafirMusafir
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:07AM

    At the right time OBL would have been revealed. Wow… not doing the right thing but when to bargain for OBL when time was right for the maximum bang for the US Dollars. Just unbelievable mindset.Recommend

  • Muneeb Kamboh
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:09AM

    Following his candid statements on the Bin Laden raid, he added, “Except that I do not know what happened, I do not know what happened.” <— Sums up the whole point.Recommend

  • Luciferous
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:09AM

    So many feet; only one mouth!
    Generals practicing “diplomacy” learned at “Strategic Depth” hole!

  • Kashmir
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:16AM

    So what else is new?Recommend

  • Mughees
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:23AM

    He is an old man. Quite dubious comments he is giving, not worth to note.Recommend

  • salman
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:34AM

    Lousy retired General, badmouthing his own military.Recommend

  • Feb 11, 2015 - 11:50AM

    Now the cat is slowly creeping out of the bag and breathing fresh air. Just imagine, a mastermind criminal and most wanted man on earth living a kilometer away from PMA and the GoP says, it did not know? This is like saying, “Am I wearing a pajama suit to office or a suit and tie.” Best wishes for the end to this ugly facade. Salams Recommend

  • Pity
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:56AM

    Instead of asking him, ask former chief Shuja Pasha as he was incharge during Bin Laden’s fiasco.Recommend

  • ajeet
    Feb 11, 2015 - 12:00PM

    And Kashmir will become a extremist breeding ground if its given to Pakistan. India needs to put more boots on the ground to save civilization in Kashmir.Recommend

  • Asad
    Feb 11, 2015 - 12:16PM

    I think Mr. Durrani should live a life of honor in home and refrain from giving assesment based views as they are taken very seriously by media.
    They appear on media as if representing Pak Army. ISPR should brief them about code of conduct. Letting them give loose statements should not be tolerated. Recommend

  • objective observer
    Feb 11, 2015 - 12:17PM

    What totally took me by surprise is with the comfort and clarity he states that Bin Laden was naturally to be kept for a maximum return.

    And he makes that statement as if its natural worldwide practice, which its not. It’s the Pakistani way. Leveraging terrorists.Recommend

  • surahan
    Feb 11, 2015 - 12:20PM

    @Ghandi, these views are just assessments not reality so hold on. That is just an opinion which has no relation with reality. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 11, 2015 - 12:23PM


    India and Israel should implement UN Resolutions.

    This will go a long way to bringing peace in the world.

    Let the Kashmiris decide what they want (obviously not India)Recommend

  • Parvez
    Feb 11, 2015 - 12:30PM

    Pointless speculation this……Recommend

  • A Peshawary
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:04PM

    Mr Asad, appears to be the voice of People of Pakistan by making these Comments “As far as the people of Pakistan were concerned, it was going to be very uncomfortable for them” If he wants to represent people; Why doesn’t he try his luck and contest Local Body election.

    A Peshawary.Recommend

  • raw is war
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:08PM

    Musharraf was the main architect.Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:13PM

    ” Durrani implied that Pakistan would have only exchanged knowledge of his location in a quid pro quo deal.”
    According to various sources the Front Line Ally in the fight against terror received about USD 25 Billion from US……and was looking for a quid pro quo:). All those who deal with Pakistan must note.Recommend

  • Shamsher Singh Bajwa
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:25PM

    @Pakistani: You should start by first reading that U.N resolution. Recommend

  • Asad
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:38PM

    You will keep going deeper in the whole you have created for yourself with this mindset- not long bfor it becomes n koreaRecommend

  • Tony Singh
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:42PM

    Every one knows Pakistan knew. Where is the news in this?Recommend

  • paki
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:43PM

    @Shamsher Singh Bajwa:
    You should also start reading the UN resolutions on Kashmir… Recommend

  • Halwaii
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:46PM

    Pakistan’s future has been gambled away by some shadowy man in the agency. Maybe it is time Pakistan stopped being clever. The rest of the world can play this game better.Recommend

  • Stewart J
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:57PM

    This is supposed to be a revelation?? He was found near a military academy, for God’s sake!! If this gentleman thought the US had not put 2 and 2 together, he has probably been eating too much brain food.Recommend

  • kalla sullemaga
    Feb 11, 2015 - 1:59PM

    @M. Khan:

  • sattar rind
    Feb 11, 2015 - 2:25PM

    rational interview Recommend

  • Rahul
    Feb 11, 2015 - 5:45PM

    Americans had already concluded that Pakistan Government was complicit in hiding Bin Laden and could not be trusted to cooperate. That was why Pakistan Government was not taken into confidence before the raid. Here are some clips from the 2007-2008 US presidential campaign where Senator Obama spells out what he thinks is the link between Pakistan Government and Bin Laden and what he is going to do about it. In 2011 he did exactly what he had promised in 2007-2008. Watch the clips and decide for yourself.

  • tmm
    Feb 11, 2015 - 6:27PM

    He is speaking sense but we are so used to listen non sense.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 11, 2015 - 6:42PM

    Is this same durrani who was said to be involved in zia ul haqs murder with ciaRecommend

  • Saad Nazim
    Feb 11, 2015 - 7:19PM

    My dear Indians, why are you so obsessed with Pakistan ? Tell me whyeee ? =O Recommend

  • Ibrar
    Feb 11, 2015 - 7:32PM

    Different people have different views and the ISI’s ex-DG ‘ interview tells us
    us nothing new. Different people will draw conclusions as they perceive things but there is one neighbour who will always blame Pakistan.

    Pakistan, in my opinion, should not have handed over any terrorists without first investigating them in Pakistan but it would have been unwise not to take any action on OSL.

    As for the whereabouts of OBL one does not know much about the secret journey he made from Afghanistan and when…and at what stage the Pak authorities became aware of this and whether the information was shared with the US and when? And we do not know whether the US wanted him alive or kill him at the very capture point. Some say that a captured Osama would reveal lot of things which would embarrass some countries, hence killing him on finding would be a better option. And to me that does make sense. However in lot of matters relating to Pakistan our neighbour often become selectively amnesic or perceptual distortion will impair judgement as and when required.

    I am not intrigued or surprised by the author’s learn by heart charge sheet and a remarkable patronising appeal made to the people of Pakistan for reforming and improving Pak behaviour towards its own people and the world community. However your advice is not new and unlikely to have any impact here.

    Would it not be better if you lecture your own people like your Mahatma used to although the poor guy had failed to change his nation’s original mentality – violence has increased many fold, intolerance levels have sky rocketed and your cities are now best known for gang rapes. Your newly acquired bed fellow, the great uncle, has warned you twice, with in ten days of his recently Indian visit, of the factors which could destroy your society if the current situation does not change.

    Wether or not you advise as Pakistan is taking necessary measures to eliminate terrorism (not entirely of its own making) and the world including US do acknowledge the lives we have given to bring peace in the region. Pakistan is soon entering into an era of progress and prosperity with its multiple economic plans. However it is never going to let you run away from Kashmir and some other issue.

    The way you have been treating Kashmiri people will only promote militancy and terrorism and you need to resolve this outstanding issue soon before it is too late. Understand that Kashmir remains a flash point for a major exchange…so hurry up rather dreaming about becoming a world power.

    Have a nice day. Recommend

  • PAkistani
    Feb 11, 2015 - 8:23PM

    The world doesn’t care about Muslims.Look at India..India elected who indirectly butchered thousands of muslims.Dont lecture us on anything.Recommend

  • woody
    Feb 11, 2015 - 8:27PM

    USA has made it clear that it did not warn Pakistan about the Abbottabad raid because it believed that high ranking members of the military would have warned OBL — the real crime is that Pakistan hasn’t lifted a finger to uncover those “high ranking” officials who were helping the most wanted terrorist on the planet. SHAME ON YOU.Recommend

  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd)
    Feb 11, 2015 - 9:21PM

    Mr. Obama needed a boost to win the Elections. What better news could he give to the scared American Public that OBL has been taken down by them in a covert operation. THe jubilation in the US was unprecedented. You got to understand one thing “Money makes the Mare go”. Maybe it was a deal between Zardari & Obama, “I scratch your back & you scratch mine”. Who sold out is anybody’s guess. One thing is for sure that this operation had to have the approval of the Pakistan Govt otherwise no intruder could go so deep & get away. Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Feb 11, 2015 - 9:48PM

    I personally think that it is a useless debate as who knew about Bin Ladin and who does not.

    The fact remain that OBL was hiding himself with his family in Abbottabad from where US SEAL’s got him, fired the shots and OBL was dead. According to media reports, his body was thrown in the deep sea.

    US agencies collect data from various people, orginizations but they never disclose what action they will take and when so that US government actions should not be compromised by leaking the information prior to an action by a third party.

    OBL is dead but not the Al-Qaeda. Out of many terrorists orginizations, IS also emerged in Syria and Iraq after the death of OBL.

    The debate should not be any more about OBL, but heads should roll as how to eradicate the menace of IS from the world map, as people from East, West, North and South are joining IS and IS is slaughtering the innocent people.Recommend

  • JSM
    Feb 11, 2015 - 9:50PM

    What is/are the truth(s) about OBKL in Pakistan? Will someone tell the truth please.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 11, 2015 - 10:51PM

    Indians are well aware of the UN resolution on Kashmir. The first sep in that resolution is that Pakistan needs omwithdraw its armynfrom hempart of Kashmir it occupies. Pakistan has never done that. Secondly, the demography of Kashmir needs to be preserved. Again ehile India has preserved that, the part that you call AJK and GB as well as the part that Pakistan handed over to China have not reserved the demography. Finally, since a part of Kashmir has been handed over o China by Pakistan, it is not even feasible to conduct plebiscite ver the enire Kashmir as stated in the UN resolution.

    Soe every single reason that plebiscite cannot be conducted elngs to Pakistan.

    Speaking about UN and complying with it, are you aware that JuD is banned by the UN? Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 11, 2015 - 11:17PM

    Whenever i write a commenton kashmir issue?noone publishes it,i still wrote?my previous commenton that and u didn publish. Why we blame india whenwe hve such black sheeps amongst us who dont air voices related to issues since its not ur families suffering so ican understamd the insensitivity humanity has become rare.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 12, 2015 - 2:44AM

    The retired ISI man assumes that the old man who was killed by the Seals in Abbotabad was indeed OBL?. Ofcourse one has to take the word of the Afro-am President and the CIA team who are on record telling the truth nothing but the truth to their own people.? This story will be included in the thousand and one episodes of the CIA team.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • nomi
    Feb 12, 2015 - 3:08AM

    This interview is with Aljazeera, will be broadcasted soon. So, US is not interested in maligning the Pak military as it needs them to guarantee a safe withdrawal.

    Some are suggesting that it is Major General Mahmud Durrani who many pakistanis believe to be involved in the assassination of Gen Zia.

    He is Asad Durrani former DG ISI.

    Many on this forum just trying to prevaricate the issue by dishing out theories.

    The fact is that many Pakistanis consider OBL a hero and denying this belief is actually hurting the Pakistanis more than anyone else.

    Che guevera is still a hero despite being called a terrorist by US, so Pakistanis must accept the fact.

    US establishment knows this, so they did not tell anyone about the operation. Recommend

  • Fawad
    Feb 12, 2015 - 3:43AM

    ISI did share info, clandestinely but why? Government should not avoid doing honest things to prevent some bad people will be angry or here whole Pakistan will be angry b’cause mastermind killer of 3000 people was killed. But before that why keep him alive as a guest for so long and hide him? OBL must have spent lot of money to get that hospitality, also get his wife etc there. People who claim OBL not being there, then what her wife was doing and if not then why Dr Afridi is being punished. If ISI shared info, Afridi had no role to play!!!! Recommend

  • Fawad
    Feb 12, 2015 - 3:51AM

    Perhaps if you work on punctuation, it will be easy to understand for moderators to pass. I say it humbly. But your thoughts are nice and appreciated. Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 12, 2015 - 5:26AM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd):
    WOW, so OBL raid had “…approval of the Pakistani government “!!!
    I recall from reading the Abbottabad Comission Report (Suppressed in PAKISTAN!!!) that no one in PAKISTAN was aware the raid until it was almost over!!!Recommend

  • Bharat
    Feb 12, 2015 - 6:10AM

    We do not want eave on your terms
    If we do not have peace, then you do not have peace.
    If we get mosquito bites , you get terrorists all overRecommend

  • excalibur
    Feb 12, 2015 - 7:27AM

    We are a foolish nation .Intelligence failure is always a reality. 9/11 intelleigence failure was of massive proportions but there was never any crucifixon of CIA, FBI ec Why ?Recommend

  • Jag Nathan
    Feb 12, 2015 - 9:10AM

    @Pakistani: so would that include Pakistan fulfilling its part of the UN Resolution – vacating all Paksiatni troops and para military & police forces and equipment from Kashmir. That’s also a part of the UN Resolution and in fact a precondition to India fulfilling her part of the very same resolution. Please clarify.Recommend

  • Feb 12, 2015 - 9:42AM

    He said “I cannot say exactly what happened but my assessment”… Now he is above 90, retired and useless, no value of his personal statementsRecommend

  • zara
    Feb 12, 2015 - 12:25PM

    Lol fawad that comment was not for readers, that was for tribune staff. I had writtten a longggg comment that they didnt publish And published the last one for no reason. Awrite boy iwill take care of punctuation, iused to type from handheld device and too hard. Will take care of it. thankyou for pointing out.Recommend

  • Insaaf
    Feb 13, 2015 - 10:30AM

    I wonder how Gen Hamid Gul can sleep at night after his jehadis which he so lovingly nurtured to kill children in India instead killed children in Peshawar. Pakistan has disgraced Islam.Recommend

  • Stewart J
    Feb 13, 2015 - 10:56AM

    Game’s up, Pakistan. Don’t think there will be very many more opportunities to play the clever game.Recommend

  • abrar
    Feb 13, 2015 - 2:23PM

    He is probably feeling hard times, pension not enough for one year service as chief of ISI. Somebody is paying this former chief a lot of money for revelation.Recommend

  • Assad
    Feb 14, 2015 - 9:56AM

    i heard his interview that he gave to BBC, very pragmatic and matter of fact. The reality is that Pakistan’s intelligence apparatus did what they felt was going to be in the best long term interests of the country with regards to Afghanistan. Everything that was done was in line with what every single other intelligence agency would do to protect their own turf, with a war going on, Pakistan was going to get battered but come out of this alright over the medium-long run. They knew some harm was going to come our way but the long term implications of not doing anything were worse.

    OBL part is speculation on his part and he openly says that. Recommend

  • Anand Rathore
    Feb 25, 2015 - 12:17PM

    Guess what Pakistani going to say? This is the conspiracy of India, USA and Isreal. The nation which created on base of conspiracy will always run by conspiracy. If u will try to be a normal country will be worst for pak. Recommend

More in Pakistan