Suspicion grows that someone knew al-Qaida leader's location, shielded him
WASHINGTON — Pakistani officials say the Obama administration has demanded the identities of some of their top intelligence operatives as the United States tries to determine whether any of them had contact with Osama bin Laden or his agents in the years before the raid that led to his death early Monday morning in Pakistan.The officials provided new details of a tense discussion between Pakistani officials and an American envoy who traveled to Pakistan on Monday, as well as the growing suspicion among United States intelligence and diplomatic officials that someone in Pakistan’s secret intelligence agency knew of Bin Laden’s location, and helped shield him.
Obama administration officials have stopped short of accusing the Pakistani government — either privately or publicly — of complicity in the hiding of Bin Laden in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. One senior administration official privately acknowledged that the administration sees its relationship with Pakistan as too crucial to risk a wholesale break, even if it turned out that past or present Pakistani intelligence officials did know about Bin Laden’s whereabouts.
Still, this official and others expressed deep frustration with Pakistani military and intelligence officials for their refusal over the years to identify members of the agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, who were believed to have close ties to Bin Laden. In particular, American officials have demanded information on what is known as the ISI’s S directorate, which has worked closely with militants since the days of the fight against the Soviet army in Afghanistan.
“It’s hard to believe that Kayani and Pasha actually knew that Bin Laden was there,” a senior administration official said, referring to Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the ISI director-general, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha. But, added the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, “there are degrees of knowing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we find out that someone close to Pasha knew.”
Warrick Page for The New York Times