Friday, May 6, 2011

Bin Laden wife: I didn't leave hideout for 6 years

Pakistan's foreign secretary warns of 'disastrous consequences' if U.S. stages similar attack on its territory 

One of Osama bin Laden's wives has claimed she lived in the al-Qaida chief's final hideout for six years without leaving the upper floors of the house, a Pakistani intelligence official said Friday. 

The Yemeni-born woman is one of three wives of bin Laden currently being interrogated in Pakistan. Authorities are also holding eight or nine children found at the compound after the U.S. raid.
Their accounts will show how bin Laden spent his time and could offer glimpses into the inner workings of al-Qaida.
Speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, the official did not say on Friday whether the Yemeni wife has said that bin Laden was also living there since 2006.

Video: New raid details reveal bin Laden on move (on this page)
'Cash-strapped' A senior Pakistani intelligence official also told reporters late Thursday that bin Laden was "cash strapped" in his final days and that al-Qaida had split into two factions, with the larger one controlled by the group's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri.
The official didn't provide details or elaborate how his agency made the conclusions about bin Laden.
The image of Pakistan's intelligence agency has been battered in the wake of Monday's U.S. commando raid that killed bin Laden. Portraying him as isolated and weak may be aimed at trying to deflect attention from that.

Meanwhile, NBC News reported Thursday that al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks , according to an initial look at DVDs, computers and other documents seized at the raid on Bin Laden's home.
Details of the plan emerged as some of the first intelligence was gleaned from the trove of information found in bin Laden's residence when Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader and four of his associates.

Video: Info from bin Laden raid yields train intel (on this page)
Counterterrorism officials said they believe the plot was only in the initial planning stages, and there is no recent intelligence about any active plan for such an attack.
Extensive surveillance of bin Laden's hideout was carried out from a nearby CIA safe house in Abbottabad, U.S. officials said.
The U.S. officials told the Washington Post the safe house was the base for intelligence gathering that began after bin Laden's compound was discovered last August, and which was so exhaustive the CIA asked Congress to reallocate tens of millions of dollars to fund it.
The fact bin Laden was found in a garrison town — his compound was not far from a major military academy — has embarrassed Pakistan and the covert raid by U.S. commandos has angered its military.

On Thursday, Pakistan's army acknowledged its own "shortcomings" in efforts to find the al-Qaida leader but threatened to review cooperation with Washington if there is another similar violation of Pakistani sovereignty.
The army said its Inter-Services Intelligence agency had arrested or killed about 100 al-Qaida terrorists and associates with or without CIA cooperation.
National humiliation The statement said it provided initial intelligence on the whereabouts of bin Laden to the CIA but that the Americans developed it further and did not share it with the ISI "contrary to the existing practice between the two services."
The tough-sounding statement was a sign of the anger in the army. It also appeared aimed at appeasing politicians, the public and the media in the country over what's viewed by many there as a national humiliation delivered by a deeply unpopular America.
Story: Pakistan pays US lobbyists to deny it helped bin Laden About 1,500 Pakistani Islamists protested on Friday against bin Laden's killing near Quetta, saying more figures like him would arise to wage holy war against the United States.
Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir also warned Thursday of "disastrous consequences" if the U.S. staged a similar attack on its territory.

While international concerns are centered on suspicions that elements of the security forces sheltered bin Laden, most Pakistanis seem more upset that uninvited American soldiers flew into the country, landed on the ground and launched an attack on a house — and that the army was unaware and unable to stop them.
Ties between the two countries were already strained before the raid because of American allegations that Islamabad was failing to crack down on Afghan Taliban factions sheltering on Pakistani soil. Pakistan was angered over stepped-up U.S. drone strikes and the case of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistanis in January.
The tone of the army statement was in sharp contrast to the initial response to the raid by the country's civilian leaders. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had hailed the operation as a "great victory" and made no mention of any concerns over sovereignty.
The army statement was issued after the country's 12 top generals met with army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, regarded as the most powerful man in the country, to discuss the operation and its implications on "military to military relations with the United States."
Slate: Myth of bin Laden in life and death It said Kayani told his colleagues that a decision had been made to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel to the "minimum essential" levels. The statement gave no more details, and an army spokesman declined to elaborate. The U.S. has about 275 declared U.S. military personnel in Pakistan at any one time, some of them helping train the Pakistani army. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.
The army also warned the United States not to launch another attack like the one that took out bin Laden. On Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner did not rule out the possibility the U.S. would
do just that.
Many of the world's most wanted militants are believed to be in Pakistan, including Ayman al-Zawahri, the man likely to succeed bin Laden, as well as leaders of the Afghan insurgency like Mullah Omar and Siraj Haqqani.
Story: Plenty of targets remain after bin Laden Fears over India, which the Pakistani army considers the country's main threat, are also a factor in the backlash. The army is worried that unless it reacts strongly to the U.S. raid, India could use a similar argument to launch a helicopter strike across the eastern border to take out militants threatening it. Some of those militants are at least tolerated by Pakistani authorities. India is not believed to have drones.
For many here, the United States is perceived as more of a danger to Pakistan than bin Laden even though al-Qaida and its associates have carried out scores of suicide bombings in recent years, many in public places or mosques and shrines.
"If another country's aircraft intrudes on your territory, you should shoot it down instead of turning a blind eye," said Fateh Ullah, a 38-year-old breadmaker in Abbottabad, the town where bin Laden was hiding. "What we should care about is the safety of our country."
Slideshow: After the raid: Inside bin Laden's compound (on this page) The account of Monday's attack given by Bashir, the foreign secretary, was the most detailed public one yet by a Pakistani official.
He said the first that Pakistan knew of the raid was when the helicopters buzzed over Abbottabad after evading Pakistani radar. He said troops were sent to the scene "once it became clear they were not our helicopters" but that the Americans had already left by the time they arrived.

Pakistan then scrambled two F-16 fighter jets but the American choppers had apparently already made it back to Afghanistan before they could be intercepted, he said. He said that about 3 a.m. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen called Kayani, the Pakistani army chief, to inform him that the raid had taken place.
'We will never forget' A U.S. acknowledgment that bin Laden was unarmed when shot in the head — as well as the sea burial of his body, a rare practice in Islam — have also drawn criticism in the Arab world and Europe, where some have warned of a backlash.
Few Americans appear to have any qualms about how bin Laden was killed, and on Thursday, scores of people cheered President Barack Obama during a visit to New York's Ground Zero, site of the twin towers al-Qaida levelled on Sept. 11, 2001, to comfort a city still scarred by attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Story: Obama visits Ground Zero: 'We will never forget' Obama said the killing of bin Laden "sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home, that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say."
The Associated Press, NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.