Who visited Osama's compound in Abottabad?
By HELENE COOPER and ISMAIL KHAN, New York Times, May 7, 2011
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.”
Pakistani investigators involved in piecing together Bin Laden’s life during the past nine years said this week that he had been living in Pakistan’s urban centers longer than previously believed.
Two Pakistani officials with knowledge of the continuing Pakistani investigation say that Bin Laden’s Yemeni wife, one of three wives now in Pakistani custody since the raid on Monday, told investigators that before moving in 2005 to the mansion in Abbottabad where he was eventually killed, Bin Laden had lived with his family for nearly two and a half years in a small village, Chak Shah Mohammad, a little more than a mile southeast of the town of Haripur, on the main Abbottabad highway.
In retrospect, one of the officials said, this means that Bin Laden left Pakistan’s rugged tribal region sometime in 2003 and had been living in northern urban regions since then. American and Pakistani officials had thought for years that ever since Bin Laden disappeared from Tora Bora in Afghanistan, he had been hiding in the tribal regions straddling the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
A former Pakistani official noted that Abbottabad, the site of the Pakistani equivalent of the West Point military academy, is crawling with security guards and military officials who established a secure cordon around the town, raising questions of how the officials could not know there was a suspicious compound in their midst.
“If he was there since 2005, that is too long a time for local police and intelligence not to know,” said Hassan Abbas, a former Pakistani official now teaching at Columbia University.
Mr. Abbas said there was a tight net of security surrounding Abbottabad because Pakistani officials were concerned about terrorist attacks on sensitive military installations in the area.
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