ISLAMABAD (TIP): The former chief of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani (retd) has said that the Government of Pakistan is likely to have sheltered slain terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and handed him over to the US as part of a deal. “I cannot say exactly what happened but… it is quite possible that they (the ISI) did not know, but it was more probable that they did,” Al Jazeera quoted General Asad Durrani (retd) as saying.
The ex-Al Qaeda chief and the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US was killed in a US raid on his house in Pakistan’s garrison town of Abbottabad in May, 2011. Officially, the ISI maintains that it did not harbour bin Laden and played no part in the US raid.
Durrani told Al Jazeera that he doubted the official line given by the ISI that it was unaware of the Al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts until his death, implying that Pakistan would only have exchanged knowledge of his location in a quid pro quo deal.
Durrani, who served as director general of the ISI from 1990 to 1992, asserted that bin Laden was handed over in exchange for an agreement on “how to bring the Afghan problem to an end”.
Asked whether bin Laden’s compound was an ISI safehouse, Durrani responded: “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.”
Commentators have questioned how bin Laden could have eluded the ISI in the years leading up to his killing, given the location of his compound in a garrison town.
According to the US, the raid on bin Laden’s compound was deliberately conducted without the knowledge of the Pakistani government or its military.
The Abbottabad Commission, which was set up by Pakistan to investigate the circumstances surrounding the raid, charged the military and the government with “gross incompetence” leading to “collective failures” that enabled bin Laden to reside in Pakistan unnoticed.
The ISI had previously helped the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) detain a number of high-ranking suspects, including Ramzi Yousef, one of the men who planned the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the alleged masterminds of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.