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We were caught by surprise: ISI

May 03, 2011 23:09 IST

Pakistan's failure to trace Osama bin Laden to the compound near Abbottabad where he was killed was an "embarrassment" for the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, BBC reported on Tuesday.

The compound near the Pakistan Military Academy where bin Laden was killed on Monday by United States forces was raided when under construction in 2003, an unnamed ISI official told BBC.

Since then, the "compound was not on our radar, it is an embarrassment for the ISI", the official said. The raid in 2003 was conducted because authorities believed Al Qaida operative Abu Faraj al-Libi was in the compound.

"We're good, but we're not God," the official was quoted as saying. "This one failure should not make us look totally incompetent. Look at our track record. For the last 10 years, we have captured Taliban and Al Qaida in their hundreds, which is more than any other countries put together," he said.

The ISI official also gave new details of the US raid, saying bin Laden's daughter, aged 12 or 13, had said she saw her father shot. There were 17 to 18 people in the compound at the time of the raid, he said.

The Americans took away one person still alive, possibly a son of bin Laden. Those who survived the attack included a wife, a daughter and eight to nine other children, not apparently bin Laden's.

The surviving Yemeni wife said they had moved to the compound a few months ago, the official said. The official said it was thought the Americans wanted to take away the surviving women and children but had to abandon the plan when one of the helicopters malfunctioned.

The ISI had recovered some documents from the compound, the official said. The Central Intelligence Agency is believed to be examining a number of computer hard drives and storage devices seized in the raid.

White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan told the media on Monday that there was concern Pakistani forces would deploy to counter the US team conducting the raid but it had avoided any confrontation.

The ISI official told BBC, "We were totally caught by surprise. They were in and out before we could react." In a statement issued on Tuesday, the foreign office said Pakistan's civil and military leadership had no prior information about the US raid.

It defended the ISI, saying, "As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with the CIA and other friendly intelligence agencies since 2009."

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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