Saturday 3 December 2016

Bin Laden protected 'in return for Saudi millions'

Rob Crilly in Islamabad

Published 11/08/2011 | 05:00

Osama bin Laden. Photo: Getty Images
Osama bin Laden. Photo: Getty Images

Osama bin Laden was protected by elements of Pakistan's security apparatus in return for millions of dollars of Saudi cash, according to a controversial account of the operation to kill the world's most wanted man.

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Raelynn Hillhouse, an American security analyst, claimed that Bin Laden's whereabouts were revealed when a Pakistani intelligence officer claimed the $25m (e17.5m) bounty on the al-Qa'ida leader's head.

Her version, based on information from "intelligence community" sources, contradicts the official account that Bin Laden was tracked down through surveillance of his trusted courier.

Pakistani officials have always denied that Bin Laden was sheltered in the country or that Islamabad had any prior knowledge of the secret mission in which he was killed.

But Ms Hillhouse, who has links to private military contractors that work extensively with the CIA, said Pakistan gave permission for a covert mission which would then be covered up by a claim that Bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike.

"The (Inter-Services Intelligence) officer came forward to claim the substantial reward and to broker US citizenship for his family," she writes on her intelligence blog, 'The Spy Who Billed Me'.

After confirming Bin Laden's presence, the US secured the co-operation of Pakistan's military leaders in return for cash and a chance to avoid public humiliation, according to Ms Hillhouse's account.

The theory, if true, may explain how American Black Hawk helicopters were able to fly deep into Pakistan in May without encountering resistance. The plan may have unravelled when one of the helicopters crash-landed, blowing the cover story.

A senior Pakistani security official denied that the ISI had sheltered bin Laden.

A US defence department spokesman said: "We have no additional operational details, or comments on operational details, to make at this time." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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