ISI helped Osama to escape US dragnet in Tora Bora

An ISI man Syed Akbar Sabir escorted bin Laden from the Pakistani region of Chitral to Peshawar, an Afghan officer said.

New York: Pakistan`s military-run ISI could have provided protection to slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden for a period of time, suggests the latest issue of `The New Yorker` magazine.

Former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh told the magazine` writer Dexter Filkins, a Pulitzer prize winner, that an ISI operative Syed Akbar Sabir had escorted bin Laden from the Pakistani region of Chitral to Peshawar, passing through Kunar Province, in Afghanistan, along the way.

"We believed that he was part of the ISI operation to care for bin Laden," Saleh, who directed the Afghan intelligence service from 2004 to 2010, said.

He said the ISI operative had been arrested by Afghan intelligence in 2005 when he narrated the events unfolding in Afghanistan, post 9/11.

The article talks about another ISI agent Fida Muhammad, who too had been arrested by Afghan intelligence agents.

The article says Muhammad, who described himself as a civilian employee of ISI, said in May that for much of the past decade, he had escorted Haqqani fighters from their sanctuaries in Pakistan into Afghanistan, where they fought against the Americans.

Muhammad said his most memorable job came in December, 2001, when he was part of a large ISI operation intended to help jihadi fighters escape from Tora Bora--the mountainous region where bin Laden was trapped for several weeks, until he mysteriously slipped away.

Muhammad said that when the American bombing of Tora Bora began, in late November, he and other ISI operatives had gone there, and into other parts of eastern Afghanistan, to evacuate training camps whose occupants included al Qaeda fighters.