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Pak army chief briefed about operation to kill Osama: Book

August 22, 2012 10:05 IST

A colonel in the Pakistan's spy agency -- the Inter-Services Intelligence -- had provided vital help to the Central Investigation Agency in tracing Osama bin Laden, a new book has claimed.

The book also claims that Pakistan army chief general Ashfaq Pervez Kayani may have been briefed by the United States on its operation to kill Osama bin Laden, some five months in advance.

Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him, penned by eminent American journalist Richard Miniter, hit the stands on Tuesday.

The new book also says that land of the Abbottabad compound, where the Al Qaeda leader lived with his family, was "carved out" from the Pakistan military academy compound. "A colonel in Pakistan's feared intelligence service, the ISI, provided vital help in locating Bin Laden when he walked into the CIA's Islamabad station in August 2010," says the book.

Bin Laden was killed by the United States Navy SEALs inside his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011.

"And Pakistan's army chief of staff may have been briefed in December 2010, five months before the nighttime raid on bin Laden's concrete castle.

Far from taking a risk, there are indications that a cover story had been developed with the Pakistani military and that Obama had their tacit consent for the mission," claims Miniter, a former reporter with The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

"In a never-before-reported account, Pakistan was more involved in the bin Laden operation than Obama's team admitted. When the CIA revealed that an ISI colonel had contacted the CIA in Islamabad and offered information about bin Laden, a debate followed," it says.

"Was this a secret sign that the head of the ISI himself was pointing out bin Laden's hiding place or was the colonel actually the patriot who hated extremism that he claimed to be? Whatever the motivation, the CIA found bin Laden's hiding place within a month of the colonel's visit," the book claims.

"There was talk about devising a cover story that would allow Pakistan to be helpful while keeping its leaders from political harm. The story, according to an official with secondhand knowledge of the White House discussion, was that bin Laden was killed in a drone strike and that the US later sent in a team to recover the body. That was believed to be less politically harmful than a commando team treading on Pakistan's soil," Minter says.

"According to this official, Pakistan's army chief of staff was alerted in December 2010, months before the operation. No concrete facts about the operation were passed on, but an informal approval was sought," he writes.

"When the SEAL helicopter crashed into bin Laden's compound, the cover story was abandoned," the official said.
The story could not be independently confirmed, but it has the virtue of explaining why the Obama administration did not press to end military aid to Pakistan when bin Laden was found eight hundred yards from its officer training facility," Minter wrote.

According to the book, as the CIA found the Abbottabad compound where Osama bin Laden lived along with his family members and started researching on the property, they found out that the land was carved out from the Pakistan military academy compound.

"The records held another surprise. The land for the bin Laden lair seemed to have been carved out of property owned by the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan's answer to Sandhurst and West Point," Miniter claimed.

"The bin Laden compound was akin to an isosceles triangle, carved out of the property of the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan's West Point. The campus's main building sat some eight hundred yards from bin Laden's castle.

"The triangular compound was bordered with concrete walls ranging in height from ten to eighteen feet. The main building, a three-story tower, housed the arch terrorist, his wives, and their children," he wrote.

According to the book it was on March 14, 2011 during a situation room meeting that the US President Barack Obama decided that Pakistan "should be kept in dark" while America made its plans.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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