WASHINGTON — Pakistan’s intelligence service believes it deserves credit for helping US spy agencies locate the hideout of Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US commandos nearly a year ago, The Washington Post reported.
“The lead and the information actually came from us,” an unnamed senior official with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) told The Post.
The al-Qaeda founder and 9/11 mastermind was killed on May 2 last year in a secret US Navy SEAL operation in a walled-off compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, north of the Pakistani capital.
Washington and Islamabad are now working to repair their relationship, which was badly damaged by the revelation that the world’s most wanted man was living a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s elite military academy.
“Any hit on al-Qaeda anywhere in the world has happened with our help,” The Post quotes one of the Pakistani intelligence officials as saying.
The other official, who said he had been intimately involved in the hunt for senior al-Qaeda operatives, including bin Laden, said the ISI provided the CIA with a cellphone number that eventually led to an al-Qaeda courier using the nom de guerre of Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the paper said.
The officials said that in November 2010, they turned over the number to the CIA, along with information that it had last been detected in Abbottabad, the report said.
The ISI said it did not know then that the number was Kuwaiti’s, but that CIA analysts did, without however relaying that information back to the Pakistanis, The Post noted.
“They knew who the number belonged to,” the paper quoted one official as saying. “But after that their cooperation with us ended.”
“It is the story of an extreme trust deficit and betrayal,” complained the other ISI official, the paper pointed out.
However a US official disputed the ISI version, The Post said.
“The fact is, our knowledge of the number didn’t come from them telling us about it,” the paper quoted the US official as saying.