Osama Bin Laden: Pakistan’s Established Policy Parameters on Counter Terrorism


The Pakistani Government regards the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden an important milestone in the war against terrorism. The Pakistani Government, its security and state institutions have long been serious on efforts to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. The Pakistanis have been engaged in counter terrorism efforts since 911 and have worked closely with US and its allies in the war on terror....

The Pakistani Government regards the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden an important milestone in the war against terrorism. The Pakistani Government, its security and state institutions have long been serious on efforts to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. The Pakistanis have been engaged in counter terrorism efforts since 911 and have worked closely with US and its allies in the war on terror.

However the Pakistani government has concerns of the international media reports suggesting that its leadership, civil as well as its military had any prior knowledge of the US CIA led operations against Osama Bin Laden that was carried out. It must be clear that the Pakistani authorities were very much involved in the capture of Osama Bin Laden.

The town of Abbottabad and the surrounding areas have been under surveillance by the intelligence agencies since 2003. This surveillance resulted in a highly technical operation conducted by the ISI which led to the capture and arrest of high ranking Al Qaeda operatives in 2004. Intelligence reports were also constantly provided to the US Counter Terrorist Unit by the ISI.

The intelligence report that led to the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden was initially conducted by the ISI. Intelligence gathered from the ISI indicated foreigners were moving around the Abbottabad area and this continued till the mid of April 2011. This intelligence report based on a much superior technological assets was provided to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The ISI intelligence report was compiled by the CIA and the CIA used the information to track, identify and reach Osama Bin Laden. The ISI played a vital role in providing the intelligence report, a fact also acknowledged by President Barak Obama and the Advisor and counter terrorism chief John Brennen in their statements to the media.

It is also important to mention that the CIA and some allied intelligence agencies have benefited a great deal from the Intel provided by the ISI. The ISI in its own capacity had had its achievements against Al Qaeda and Militants Islamic groups on the War on Terror in Pakistan at a level unmatched by many other intelligence agencies operating today.

The US led operations was a highly covert operations conducted by CIA ground operatives who gave the green light for the US Special Forces SEAL team to engage in operation codename Geronimo. There was no US Forces originally operating within any Pakistani sectors around Abbottabad. This was a highly covert operation and only ‘need to know basis’ was administered.

US Special Forces helicopters entered Pakistani airspace making use of the blind spots in the radar coverage due to the hilly terrain coming in from the northeast of Abbottabad. US helicopters undetected flight into Pakistan was also facilitated by the mountainous terrain that provided US forces the cover they needed.

The operation was also conducted with efficacious use of state of the art technology systems and ‘nap of the earth’ flying techniques. It may not be realistic to draw an analogy between the undefended civilian area and some military and security installations which have elaborate local defense protection.

Operation Geronimo was conducted by US Special Forces flying in from the northeast of Pakistan near the Afghan-Pakistan border. The operations was planned and executed from US Airbase in Afghanistan. The US Special Forces made of the SEAL team engaged on the compound of Osama’s villa and in the operations shot and killed Osama Bin Laden.

The Pakistani Government was aware of the operations from the beginning but due to the possibility of the information being leaked out, the Pakistanis were not informed of the exact day and time of the operation. This is most familiar with US special and covert operations and it is to maintain the highest confidentiality of information. The issues of mistrust should not be construed as this is a norm in all US military operations.

There have been many versions and discussions about the nature of the targeted compound, particularly its high walls and its vicinity to the areas housing Pakistani Army elements. It needs to be pointed out that many houses occupied by the affectees of operations in the federally administered tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have generally high boundary walls.

This is very much in line with the cultures of privacy and security among Pakistani’s. Structural layout details of such houses and low rise buildings are a norm and not a rarity. This is much debated within the broad spectrum of experts and the media concerning the giveaway target.

There are also questions on the whereabouts of the family members of Osama Bin Laden. The members according to intelligence sources are all in safe hands and are being looked after in accordance with the laws. Some of them needing medical care are under treatment in the best possible facilities.

As per policy related issues, they will be handed over to their respective countries of origin. The Pakistani authorities are keeping them safe and information on their detention is currently highly classified. This is a confirmation provided by the Pakistani government on the account of the detainees,

The US and Pakistan have had years of relations and have been operating together on the war on terror in the Afghan-Pakistani border. The two also go back to the Afghan-Soviet invasion where the ISI played a vital role in the war. There are many doubts on the relations of Pakistan and the US on the operations that were unfolded after the capture and killing of Osama.

Pakistan, being mindful of its international obligations, has been extending full and proper cooperation on all counter terrorism efforts including exchange of information and intelligence. Pursuant to such cooperation, Pakistan has also captured and arrested several high profile terrorist. This information is not new to the US as they have been engaging with the Pakistanis since the war on terror begin.

Pakistani Army and intelligence agencies have played a pivotal role in breaking the back of Al Qaeda and other militant terrorist groups in Pakistan as well as internationally. Many successes achieved by the US and allied countries on terrorism have been the result of effective cooperation and extremely useful military support by Pakistan.

Andrin Raj (andrin.raj@stratad.net) is a Counter Terrorist expert and the Director for Stratad Asia- Pacific Strategic Centre and currently the Southeast Asia Regional Director for the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals

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