Sunday 25 February 2018

Bin Laden was stopped for speeding

A covert raid by US Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011 (AP)
A covert raid by US Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011 (AP)

Osama bin Laden was able to live in Pakistan undetected for nine years and even went unnoticed when stopped for speeding, according to an official report.

The 336-page report was written by a Pakistan commission tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the covert US raid that killed bin Laden in the country in May 2011.

The report claimed bin Laden spent years as a free resident in Pakistan because of a breathtaking scale of negligence and incompetence at practically all levels of the Pakistani government. Pakistani officials are yet to respond.

The US Navy Seals raid that killed bin Laden in the north-west town of Abbottabad outraged Pakistani officials because they were not told about it beforehand. US officials have said they kept Pakistan in the dark because they were worried the al-Qaida founder would be tipped off.

But the report said it found no evidence that current or former Pakistani officials helped bin Laden hide, although it could not rule it out completely. It said very little is known about the network of support that bin Laden enjoyed in Pakistan, other than the group of family and backers that lived with him in Abbottabad.

The report lambasted all levels of government, including the powerful army and intelligence services, for failing to detect the terror leader as he lived in six different places in Pakistan over nine years.

The report said the al-Qaida chief came close to capture in 2002 or 2003 when he was living in the north-west Swat Valley. It revealed that according to Maryam, the wife of bin Laden's courier, a policeman pulled them over for speeding as they were on their way to a bazaar, but Maryam's husband, Ibrahim al-Kuwaiti, quickly settled the matter before the officer recognised bin Laden.

"To summarise, negligence and incompetence to a greater or lesser degree at almost all levels of government are clear," said the report, which was based on testimony from more than 200 witnesses, official documents and site visits.

The report said it was shocking that nobody in the Pakistani government discovered bin Laden while he was living in Abbottabad for six years in a compound described as "hardly normal," because it was somewhat isolated from homes around it, had very high walls and was protected by barbed wire. Bin Laden wore a cowboy hat when he moved around the compound to avoid detection from above.

"The extent of incompetence, to put it mildly, was astounding, if not unbelievable," the report said.

Press Association

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