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Dhaka Tribune

‘Ex-intelligence man told US about Osama’s hideout’

Update : 11 May 2015, 07:18 PM

The United States got to Osama bin Laden with Pakistan’s help, but disclosed the operation in a manner that made the country look like a villain, according to Seymour M. Hersh, an American investigative journalist and author.

“They helped. They totally helped. They helped a great deal,” said Mr Hersh when Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper asked him if he believed Pakistan helped the US reach the Al Qaeda leader.

Seymour Hersh is an award winning investigative journalist known for his reporting on the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and for abuses at Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War.

In a story published in the London Review of Books on Sunday, Mr Hersh described the official US version of the so-called “Operation Neptune Spear” as a work of fiction, a fairy-tale.

He noted that the White House still maintains the mission was an all-American affair, and that senior generals of the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were not told about the raid in advance.

“This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll (the author of “Alice in the Wonderland).”

In an interview to Dawn, Mr Hersh said the operation that ultimately led to Osama’s death began with a walk-in.

“In Aug 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find (Osama) bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001.”

The former intelligence official, Mr Hersh said, was a military man who was now living in Washington and working for the CIA as a consultant. “I cannot tell you more about him because it would not be appropriate.”

Mr Hersh rejected the suggestion that Osama bin Laden was living in his own hideout and was free to move around. “OBL was an ISI prisoner and never moved except under their supervision,” he said.

Mr Hersh said the Saudi government also knew about it and had advised the Pakistanis to keep him imprisoned.

The author said the ISI wanted him dead because “they did not want a witness.”

“The cover story trashed Pakistan. It was very embarrassing for them,” said Mr Hersh. “Pakistan has a good army, not a bad army, but the cover story made it look bad.”

Mr Hersh also said that former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates disagreed with the cover-up story and wanted the US to respect the arrangement they had made with Pakistan.

“President Obama changed the game because he was running for re-election,” he said. “The two-hour delay in the speech was caused by an internal debate.”

Asked did his investigation show Pakistan as a villain or an ally, he said: “Total ally.” 

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