Did Pakistan Give Up on Osama to The Glee of Americans?

Did Pakistan give up on Osama to the glee of Americans? The answer to this question appears to be a resounding yes based on circumstantial evidence. Pakistan has a track record of turning over to the US at regular intervals ‘militant leaders’ who have lost shelf life in its view, to the apparent glee of the Americans.

if not convinced, go over with these facts and other bits and pieces as are available at the moment

Osama bin Laden is dead. He was killed in a US operation inside Pakistan. President Obama thanked Pakistan for its help saying “it’s important to note that our counter-terrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.” But most American officials and commentators have gone on record saying that the Pakistani government was not informed about the strike in advance.

But it raises the question, How could the US mount the helicopter operation in the wee hours of May 2 inside Pakistan? These helicopters did not take off from nowhere. They did so from Baluchistan, from somewhere near Quetta, which is also the home of Mullah Omar led Shura. Pakistan radars cannot miss low flying helicopters since they are on a 24×7 alert to safeguard the country’s nuclear assets from airborne predators. Also, why and how a Pakistan army helicopter accompanied the US flying machines? It is eminently possible that the top brass of Pakistan army and intelligence were taken into confidence just in time. it is also possible that to save the Pakistani setup from the fury of religious groups at home, Washington is allowing itself to corner the full glory of the operation.

Admittedly, there is much for Pakistan, its civilian setup, the army and the ISI to answer. Until the mystery is resolved, some intelligent guess will be in order. It will be absurd to underestimate the ability of the Pakistani system that has nurtured terrorist mafia as State Policy while working shoulder -to -shoulder with the Americans in the war against terrorism.

The killing of Bin Laden is possibly the biggest clandestine operation for the United States since the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003. The confirmation of his death is a boost for the Obama rating on the eve of his re-election bid. It will nevertheless have a wider impact on the geopolitics and on the global war on terrorism.

Over the past nine years, Pakistan has been turning over to the US intermittently some highly prized faces. A close analysis of these instances tells that all the ‘gifts’ had outlived their shelf -life in the terror shop. They retained a symbolic value though.

In a sense, Osama bin Laden falls in to the same trap. Even according to the American theories in circulation, he has long withdrawn, from 2008 according to some sections, from the operations. Never a hands-on planner and executioner, he was into strategy. His life in Abbatobad with no internet, phone, laptop and contact with the outside world through courier fits the image he had been bestowed with.

Our case is that if Pakistan could house him in luxury in a specially built house so close to Islamabad, and protect the trail of his video tapes to the media (his last tape was released on Jan 21, 2011), it could have easily protected his courier as well from the American eyes in the sky and the Raymonds on the ground.

According to various reports, the Americans zeroed in on the courier last August. It is the period which saw the beginning of a big slide in the US-Pakistan relations. It is also the time that America began berating Islamabad’s fight against terrorism. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding.

Two weeks ago, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly criticized the Pakistani military and nearly branded ISI as a terrorist organisation while on the Pakistani soil. NATO forces Commander in Afghanistan, Gen Petraeus paid an extraordinary visit to Islamabad on April 25 and held ‘a short and crisp’ discussion with Pak Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at Chaklala Airbase.

The two generals later took a short trip to an undisclosed location on board an aircraft, according to Dawn news paper. The same night Gen Petraeus had through teleconferencing attended a White House meeting chaired by President Barack Obama where the decision to mount the operation to bring Osama to justice was taken. Also last week, Gen. Kayani said the back of terrorism in the country has been broken. In other words there is a rhythm.

Another reality check shows that Pakistan has long stopped talking about Osama. It has been pinning for the Haqqanis as the real face of Taliban amongst dozens of Taliban clones in the Af-Pak region. These clones are comparable to the al Qaeda franchises across the globe, which are held together loosely by the umbrella body, the Al Qaeda. Who holds the Taliban franchisees is unclear. In its hot pursuit of its end plans for Afghanistan, the US is not paying attention to the issue. That much is clear from the way the Americans have fallen into the ‘Haqqani is good Taliban’ trap and opened negotiations with ‘the real Taliban’ force.

Frankly, there are questions and questions on the Osama operation. There are many loose ends and trails leading nowhere in Pakistan. But there is a pattern in all this and it fits the old mold. It doesn’t mean the Jihadi movement has reached its end. One more chapter is closed. Another is about to be opened.

Some al-Qaeda leaders captured (and handed over to US) or killed on Pakistan soil since the 9/11

1 March 2 2002: In less than six months after 9/11, al Qaeda’s then operational Chief, Abu Zubaidah was apprehended in Faisalabad.

2. Sept 15, 2002: An important al-Qaeda operative, Ramzi Binalshibh was arrested in Karachi and handed over to the FBI.

3. Mar 1, 2003: Mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, was arrested in Rawalpindi and handed over to the FBI. He is the killer of US journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in Feb2002.

4. Mar 16 2003: The 7th most important al-Qaeda leader, Yassir al-Jaziri was arrested in Lahore along with three accomplices. He is said to be “Osama’s moneyman” and a “computer wizard”

5. Apr 2003: Khalid bin Attash, also called Walid bin Attish, was arrested in Karachi and turned over to FBI. He is the prime suspect in the October 2000 attack on the American naval ship “USS Cole” at Aden.

6. July 30, 2004: Al-Qaeda commander Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who is wanted in connection with the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was arrested from the city of Gujrat near Lahore.

7. Aug 2004: An al-Qaeda computer wizard, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan was arrested in Lahore. He was close to Khalfan Ghailani, who was arrested just days before him

8. May 2, 2005: An al-Qaeda veteran, and number three in the hierarchy, Abu Faraj al-Libi was arrested at Mardan near Peshawar. A Libyan by birth,he also was head of al-Qaeda network in Pakistan.

9. Oct 2005: A key al-Qaeda player,Mustafa Setmarian Nasar was captured in a Sting operation in Quetta. He was wanted in connection with the 2004 Madrid rain bombings. He was also a suspect in the July 7, 2005 London bombings.

10. Jan 29, 2008: A top al-Qaeda commander Abu Laith al-Libi was killed by a US missile in Waziristan. A one-time spokesman, he was trusted lieutenant of Osama bin Laden

11. Aug 2009: A known al-Qaeda strong man, Tohir Yuldashev, lost a leg and arm in a drone attack. He died at a hospital in Zhob (Balochistan), where US has stationed its helicopters since it undertook flood relief work in 2010.