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Gen Kayani, Gen Pasha ensured no resistance to US Abbottabad raid
Renowned Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh has made startling revelations in a 10,000 word report about the May 2, Abbottabad raid, which killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, claiming that the raid was planned by the Americans with full knowledge and cooperation of the Pakistan Army and ISI, then headed by General Kayani and General Pasha. Writing for the London Review of Books, Hersh who had broken famous stories like the Mi Lai massacre in Vietnam and Abu Ghraib prison story in Iraq war, said the White House version that the Osama mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance was false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account.

“The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Director General of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission.”

“This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, and that after his killing the US betrayed promises with Kayani and Pasha and went back on the promise that the killing would not be revealed for about 10 days and would then be claimed as a result of a drone strike.”

Hersh quoted the former ISI chief Gen Asad Durrani saying: “When your version comes out – if you do it – people in Pakistan will be tremendously grateful. For a long time people have stopped trusting what comes out about bin Laden from the official mouths. There will be some negative political comment and some anger, but people like to be told the truth, and what you’ve told me is essentially what I have heard from former colleagues.”

Hersh also claimed in the report that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the US Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false.

Hersh claims that the major US source of his information is a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. He also was privy to many aspects of the Seals’ training for the raid, and to the various after-action reports. Two other US sources, who had access to corroborating information, have been longtime consultants to the Special Operations Command.

“I also received information from inside Pakistan about widespread dismay among the senior ISI and military leadership – echoed later by Durrani – over Obama’s decision to go public immediately with news of bin Laden’s death. The White House did not respond to requests for comment,” Hersh reported.

The long Seymour Hersh story also claims that Osama’s body was never buried in the sea and he quotes seamen who were on board the US ship saying they never saw any burial. He also says there was no Islamic scholar to lead the last funeral prayers of Osama.Likewise Hersh claims that the story of Dr Shakil Afridi was an after-thought and another person had been authorised by Gen Kayani to get the DNA of Osama.

Hersh claims that a Pakistani ISI officer had walked into the US Embassy in Islamabad and revealed the presence of Osama in Abbottabad and had claimed a reward of $25 million. “The informant and his family were smuggled out of Pakistan and relocated in the Washington area. He is now a consultant for the CIA,” he claims.

“The truth is that bin Laden was an invalid, but we cannot say that,” he quoted the retired official as saying. “You mean you guys shot a cripple? Who was about to grab his AK-47?” It didn’t take long to get the cooperation we needed, because the Pakistanis wanted to ensure the continued release of American military aid, a good percentage of which was anti-terrorism funding.

Hersh says at one point that spring, Pasha offered the Americans a blunt explanation of the reason Pakistan kept bin Laden’s capture a secret, and why it was imperative for the ISI role to remain secret: “We needed a hostage to keep tabs on al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” Pasha said, according to the retired official. “The ISI was using bin Laden as leverage against Taliban and al-Qaeda activities inside Afghanistan and Pakistan. They let the Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership know that if they ran operations that clashed with the interests of the ISI, they would turn bin Laden over to us. So if it became known that the Pakistanis had worked with us to get bin Laden at Abbottabad, there would be hell to pay.”

“At one of his meetings with Leon Panetta, according to the retired official and a source within the CIA, Pasha was asked by a senior CIA official whether he saw himself as acting in essence as an agent for al-Qaeda and the Taliban. “He answered no, but said the ISI needed to have some control.” The message, as the CIA saw it, according to the retired official, was that Kayani and Pasha viewed bin Laden ‘as a resource, and they were more interested in their (own) survival than they were in the United States.”

According to Hersh, “Pasha and Kayani were responsible for ensuring that Pakistan’s Army and air defence command would not track or engage with the US helicopters used on the mission. The American cell at Tarbela Ghazi was charged with coordinating communications between the ISI, the senior US officers at their command post in Afghanistan, and the two Black Hawk helicopters; the goal was to ensure that no stray Pakistani fighter plane on border patrol spotted the intruders and took action to stop them. The initial plan said that news of the raid shouldn’t be announced straightaway. All units in the Joint Special Operations Command operate under stringent secrecy and the JSOC leadership believed, as did Kayani and Pasha, that the killing of bin Laden would not be made public for as long as seven days, maybe longer. Then a carefully constructed cover story would be issued: Obama would announce that DNA analysis confirmed that bin Laden had been killed in a drone raid in the Hindu Kush, on Afghanistan’s side of the border. The Americans who planned the mission assured Kayani and Pasha that their cooperation would never be made public. It was understood by all that if the Pakistani role became known, there would be violent protests – bin Laden was considered a hero by many Pakistanis – and Pasha and Kayani and their families would be in danger, and the Pakistani Army publicly disgraced.”

Brig Usman Khalid (ISI) informed CIA of Osama’s presence in Abbottabad
Hersh further claims that a former Pakistani intelligence official had actually informed the Americans about the Abbottabad hideout of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden (OBL), has given credence to the notion that a former ISI official provided the information about Osama’s location in exchange of US$ 25 million bounty as well as the US citizenship with a new identity.

Well-informed intelligence circles in the garrison town of Rawalpindi concede that the vital information about the bin Laden compound was actually provided to the Americans by none other than an ISI official - Brigadier Usman Khalid. The retired Brigadier, who has already been granted American citizenship along with his entire family members, persuaded Dr Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani physician, to conduct a fake polio campaign in the Bilal Town area of Abbottabad to help the Central Intelligence Agency hunt down Osama.

A February 18, 2012 Washington Post article by David Ignatius said

“Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani was ISI chief at the time, but the dominant figure was President Pervez Musharraf”. Ignatius referred to former ISI chief General Ziauddin Butt and noted that a report in the Pakistani press in December had quoted him as saying that Osama’s stay at Abbottabad was arranged by Brigadier (R) Ijaz Shah on Musharraf’s orders. General Ziauddin Butt repeated his claim in the February 2012 issue of the Newsweek magazine, in an online interview conducted by Bruce Riedel. Riedel quoted Lt Gen Butt as saying: “General Musharraf knew that Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad.” Ziauddin Butt claimed that Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. On the other hand, Musharraf has refuted having any knowledge about Osama living in Pakistan during his tenure.

It may be recalled that the New York Times had claimed in a March 2014 report that the US had direct evidence about former ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha knowing Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad at the time. The newspaper also quoted former ISI chief Lt Gen Ziauddun Butt, saying Musharraf had arranged to hide Bin Laden in Abbottabad. While the military circles had strongly refuted the NYT report as a pack of lies, it was hard for the international community to believe that the world’s most wanted terrorist was living unnoticed for five years in a vast compound in Abbottabad without any support system.