`Pakistan was well aware of Osama’s whereabouts`

A recently-published book on Osama bin Laden claims that the US military leadership had hinted at unilateral action against the al Qaeda chief.

Updated: Sep 03, 2012, 16:10 PM IST

Islamabad: A recently-published book on Osama bin Laden has claimed that a top US official, who had briefed President Barack Obama, was certain that Pakistan was well aware of the al Qaeda chief’s whereabouts.

The book, by Peter Bergen, titled `Manhunt: From 9/11 to Abbottabad - The Ten Year Search for Osama Bin Laden`, reveals secret deliberations of the top US intelligence official with Obama. However, when approached by the media, not a single Pakistani official was ready comment on the book`s claims.

Bergen claims in the book that the US military leadership had hinted at unilateral action against Osama or Ayman al Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, to Pakistan`s Army chief, reports The Express Tribune.

"If bin Laden was dwelling in the midst of a well-policed city, how could the Pakistanis not know?," asked Robert Cardillo, a veteran intelligence official who briefed President Obama three days a week about national security developments around the world, as saying.

"Furthermore, if his compound was just a kilometre away from the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul, it was `nuts` that he hadn`t relocated in six years, the official said - inviting murmurs that it was being guarded by the Pakistan military," he said.

US Admiral Mike Mullen repeatedly told his counterpart General Kayani, "If we know we can find Number One or Number Two, we are going to get them. Period. And we are going to get them unilaterally. Period."

There seemed to be certain downsides of involving Pakistan. Intelligence officials claimed that doing so might lead to mishandling of crucial information. The Abbottabad operation was hence carried out in complete secrecy, with not more than a dozen military men privy to its developments, the paper said.

According to the book, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that preserving Pakistan-US amity was not a priority when it came to eliminating bin Laden.

"And I remember at one point, one of the briefers said the raid will be considered a gross violation of the Pakistanis` national honour, and I exploded at the moment and said, what about our national honour. And what about going after a man who killed three thousand innocent people?" she said.