What a confusing week!! My week started on Monday when I saw a news report that was the result of a tweet from the aide to Donald Rumsfeld. Oi Vey!! The tweet pre-empted the announcement that was to come from the White House that Osama Bin Laden had been killed during a raid on a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan. There are some people who just cannot accept that OBL had been alive and hiding in Pakistan, however, I see no reason to contradict the information because there is a lot of information out there that corroborates everything.
First, there is the story of how the raid went down. There has been backtracking galore on the details. You can blame that on a strategy plan that came about from a meeting the pResident had prior to his announcement. No doubt in my mind that they fudged the details in that meeting. We were told that one of the wives had been used as a human shield, but that was not true. The truth is that the woman thrust herself towards one of the SEALS and she was shot in the leg. A woman did die, but she was the wife of the courier who was the first to be shot. Then we were told that there had been “resistance”, and here we have more conflicting stories because the guns that were in the bedroom of OBL had been removed by the SEALS (or at least that is the latest story). I put no value in the story of the 12 year old, so for the moment I will discount that testimony.
Second, there are accusations and counter-accusations from all manner of sources. There is indeed a need to question the role of the ISI and of the Pakistani government. Who was shielding Osama Bin Laden? Who put out the original stories several years ago that he was dead? I have no doubt in my mind that those stories were circulated deliberately by those who were shielding OBL whilst he continued to live in the compound in Abbottabad. However, in my mind those stories never rang true, and that includes the claim that he variously had kidney disease, lung disease or liver disease. There is absolutely no proof with regards to those assertions. As for those who claim he is an old man, I say thank you very much, but at 57 I am not an old woman, and OBL was 3 years younger than myself!!!!! In other words, he was not an old man, so those who claim such are simply trying to justify their own stances on a variety of issues. It would be interesting to know how it was that a whole group of people in the intelligence community came to believe in the lie that OBL was dead back in about 2003.
Third, there have been accusations regarding who nearly gave the game away – the tilt was at the Australian Foreign Minister who let the cat out of the bag that a top Indonesian operative and most wanted person associated with AQ had been captured in Pakistan. This was great theatre and more mud slinging. However, I doubt that Kevin Rudd did compromise anything because someone in the intelligence community in Pakistan had tipped off the media about that particular prize catch. Regardless, this was a prize catch that helped affirm that OBL was in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Fourth, there are questions being asked about who in Pakistan was shielding OBL. Well I have a theory, and I think it goes right to the top, not to the current President, but to General Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan. Here is why I think that he was involved and it is a report in the UK Guardian:
In Afghanistan, a former intelligence chief told the Guardian that four years ago Pakistan ignored a tip-off that Bin Laden was hiding near Abbottabad. Amrullah Saleh, former head of the National Directorate of Security, which has a long-standing rivalry with the ISI, said that he had believed in 2007 that Bin Laden was hiding in Mansehra,very near Abbottabad, in one of two al-Qaida safe houses. When he put this to Pakistan’s then president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, he grew furious and smashed his fist on the table, said Saleh. “Am I the president of the Republic of Banana?” said Musharraf, Saleh recalled, leading an alarmed President Hamid Karzai, also at the meeting, to intervene.
Saleh, a fierce critic of Pakistan who has now entered Afghan politics, said he had no doubts that Mullah Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, is hiding in an ISI safe house in Karachi: “He is protected by ISI. General Pasha [Lieutenant-General Shuja Pasha, the ISI director general] knows, as I am talking to you, where Omar is, and he keeps daily briefs from his officers on the location of senior Taliban leaders.”
The direct accusation being made by Saleh is that the ISI is providing safe houses for these wanted individuals, including Mullah Omar. Since Saleh had it wrong about the location of OBL, I will suggest that the person who is located at Manshera is probably al-Zawahri. This is a hunch, because I feel certain that he, like OBL is hiding out somewhere in Pakistan and he is not living in a cave in the Tora Boras. It also begs the question: who tipped off OBL and companions that the allied forces were about to hit the Tora Boras? Somebody in the ISI, rather than the military likely tipped him off. It also begs the question about Musharref and whether he had ever been serious about catching these AQ operatives.
Fifth, there is a barrage of accusations against both the Pakistan government and the Pakistan military. The military is trying to let it slip that they did in fact know about the operation. However, this has not stopped the population in general criticizing the military over letting US forces carry out this raid. On the other hand, there is a good reason to question why the US is spending billions of dollars of aid on Pakistan. Should aid be cut off, or at least cut back?
Likewise, I question whether or not there had been any serious attempt to bring the Islamists under control. Pakistan is a nation where the Islamists have been on the rise. For this reason alone there is a lot of sympathy for the Taliban, as well as for AQ and for OBL in particular. The outpouring is bound to get worse, depending upon the radical imams and their Friday sermons. If the imams give a fiery sermon then you can expect a lot of the same that we have seen when Pakistanis get angry… expect the flag burning, the church burning and effigy burning in the near future.
The handling of the news about this operation has been totally botched.