May 3, 2011

Daily brief: Pakistan faces questions over bin Laden

From The AfPak Channel by Katherine Tiedemann -

Uncomfortable scrutiny for Pakistan

After the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden early Monday morning in Abbottabad, the small military garrison city some 40 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, speculation is rife about how the al-Qaeda leader could have been hiding in plain sight virtually under the noses of the Pakistani military, and Obama administration officials say they are investigating whether bin Laden had help from Pakistani authorities over the years (NYT, Post, Reuters, WSJ, McClatchy, FT, Guardian, Independent, Reuters, Dawn, AP). U.S. officials said Pakistani officials were not told about the raid, which involved four American helicopters entering Pakistani airspace undetected from Afghanistan, until after it occurred (AP, NYT, WSJ, Post, AP).

Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari, have maintained they didn't know bin Laden was living in the Abbottabad compound, while top Obama counterterrorism official John Brennan called it "inconceivable" that the terrorist leader did not have "some kind of support system" within Pakistan (AP, Post, WSJ). Some Pentagon and C.I.A. officials were skeptical that Pakistan knew, while others were more suspicious (NYT). The Pakistani military has not officially commented on bin Laden's death, though an official with the intelligence service the ISI said the agency was embarrassed and a military official conceded, "It is an intelligence failure" (BBC, Dawn).

Residents of Abbottabad say the massive compound stood out in its middle-class neighborhood, though many were shocked to learn bin Laden had been living there (LAT, NYT, Times, Guardian, WSJ). The town had been better known as a hub for tourists and the Pakistani military (Post).

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