The total lack of communication between the US and Pakistani governments on the assassination of Osama bin Laden came as no surprise to those who long-suspected rank duplicity in the Pakistani power-structure. Recently revealed information, obtained by WikiLeaks, has now verified this suspicion in spades, exposing, in particular, the incredibly corrupt and treacherous nature of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Among other things, the ISI has worked closely with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other radical Islamists, including Salafists and Wahhabists.
According to one leaked diplomatic cable recording the assessment of a foreign counter-terrorism official, Pakistani security forces had protected bin Laden all these years, warning him whenever American forces were closing in on him. This, in fact, was how he escaped Northern Waziristan, the diplomat said. The leaked document acknowledges that Pakistan is still a breeding ground for terrorists, who migrate to other areas (i.e. Tajikistan), and that Pakistan was manipulating terrorist groups for “geopolitical gains,” as the official described it.
However, the immense degree of corruption by Pakistan extends far beyond its protection of bin Laden. WikiLeaks cables also reveal that Pakistan’s ISI smuggled al-Qaeda terrorists through airport security to help them avoid capture and, moreover, helped send an al-Qaeda unit into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. According to one document, a Guantanamo Bay detainee (an equivalent of an Afghani Brigadier General) helped pass 65 al-Qaeda members directly to the ISI and “unidentified Wahabi party officials,” who then smuggled the cadre into Pakistan. The detainee reported witnessing one high-ranking terrorist boasting of another incident in which the ISI “sent a military unit into Afghanistan, posing as civilians to fight alongside the Taliban against US forces.” After the unit was captured, funds were “secured…from the ISID [ISI] for their release.” US officials also cited in the same document that the ISI is linked to the Salafist Islamic group Juma’at Ul Dawa Al Qurani (JDQ).
A clear indication of the high-level of protection offered to bin Laden by the Pakistanis was his last place of residence. When US military personnel finally caught up with al Qaeda’s leader and dispensed long overdue justice, bin Laden was living unbothered deep inside Pakistan in Abbottabad, a military town known as the heart of Pakistan’s army establishment. Rawalpindi, the army’s headquarters, is called its “head.” Many high-ranking Pakistani officers live in Abbottabad, which hosts Pakistan’s most prestigious military academies.
Bin Laden’s home in Abbottabad is an elaborate luxury compound that may have been built for him in 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported. The compound is valued at $1 million and was described by one American official as “extraordinarily unique,” which gave the American intelligence operatives tracking bin Laden “confidence” that he may be living there.
The $1 million sum is, of course, nothing compared to the $1 billion that the Pakistani army has been receiving annually from the United States for being a supposed “ally” in the War on Terror. And so, as it turns out, the Pakistani military’s greatest fear these past ten years was more likely not al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, but rather that bin Laden would fall into American hands. Such an occurrence, would result in Pakistan losing the financial gifts from America needed “to fight” terrorism.
Also on the table if bin Laden was captured would have been the additional $1 billion Pakistan receives annually in non-military aid and $300 million in “separate” military assistance. So with such large amounts of money at stake, it is no wonder that corrupt and jihad-minded Pakistani officials would constantly deny for years that they knew the whereabouts of al Qaeda leader’s and smarmily challenged accusers to provide evidence to the contrary. Bin Laden was the goose laying the golden egg for Pakistan’s security establishment.
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