Bin Laden unarmed when killed
Backtracking on original reports, the White House tells reporters that Osama bin Laden was unarmed during the raid on his compound.PT1M7S http://www.dailylife.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-1e77t 620 349 May 4, 2011
The hunt for Osama bin Laden might have ended eight years earlier had a Pakistani traffic policeman spotted the world's most wanted man in a car he had stopped for speeding.
The extraordinary revelation is made by Pakistan's official investigation, obtained by Al Jazeera, into how bin Laden managed to live undetected in the country for almost a decade. In its report, the Abbottabad Commission concluded that Pakistan's military and government missed several opportunities to close in on bin Laden.
How the entire neighbourhood, local officials, police and security and intelligence officials all missed the size, the strange shape, the barbed wire, the lack of cars and visitors etc over a period of nearly six years beggars belief.
They may have come closest when the al-Qaeda leader was living in the Swat Valley during 2002 and 2003.
Pulled over for speeding: Osama bin Laden. Photo: AF
According to the testimony of Maryam, the wife of Ibrahim al-Kuwaiti, one of bin Laden's two trusted bodyguards, they would make occasional visits to the local bazaar. She told investigators that on one trip their car was pulled over for speeding by a policeman, but that her husband "quickly settled the matter". Whether the police officer was paid off or failed to spot the passenger is not explained.
The investigation, set up after US Navy SEALs killed bin Laden and al-Kuwaiti during a raid on the terrorist's Abbotabad villa in 2011, delivers a scathing verdict on Pakistan's efforts.
"Culpable negligence and incompetence at almost all levels of government can more or less be conclusively established," it concludes.
Hiding place: Osama bin Laden was killed inside his Abbottabad compound. Photo: Reuters
It also criticises the military for failing to spot either the CIA hunt for bin Laden inside Pakistan or the covert night raid in which four helicopters crossed the border from Afghanistan undetected, apparently because the country's radars were focusing on the threat from India. Far from the whitewash many Pakistanis expected, it even calls on the country's leadership to apologise for its failings. "This [was] a case of nothing less than a collective and sustained dereliction of duty by the political, military and intelligence leadership of the country," it said.
Of the Abbotabad villa, it said: "How the entire neighbourhood, local officials, police and security and intelligence officials all missed the size, the strange shape, the barbed wire, the lack of cars and visitors etc over a period of nearly six years beggars belief."
In a secret night-time mission by US Navy SEALs, the world's most wanted man was killed on May 2, 2011, in an episode that humiliated Pakistan's military and heavily strained ties between the strategic allies Washington and Islamabad.
Bin Laden's network killed nearly 3000 on 9/11. Photo: Reuters
The much-anticipated 336-page report offered a scathing read, with evidence of incompetence at almost every level of Pakistan's vast security apparatus.
It also chastised Pakistan's leadership for failing to detect CIA activities on its soil in the run-up to the raid, while criticising the United States for the "illegal manner" in which the operation was conducted.
"The US acted like a criminal thug," said the report by the Abbottabad Commission, formed a month after the raid to investigate the circumstances surrounding bin Laden's killing.
"But above all, the tragedy refers to the comprehensive failure of Pakistan to detect the presence of bin Laden on its territory for almost a decade or to discern the direction of US policy towards Pakistan that culminated in the avoidable humiliation of the people of Pakistan."
Moreover, the strongly worded report did not explicitly rule out the possible involvement of rogue elements within the Pakistani intelligence service itself - a sensitive issue even to touch on in a high-profile inquiry.
"As for (failing to detect) the CIA network, there was culpable negligence and incompetence. As for the connivance, it has not been established at any level as mentioned," it said.
"Although the possibility of some degree of connivance inside or outside the government cannot be entirely discounted, no individual can be identified as guilty of connivance."
Pakistan's government and security officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday night.
Some US officials have voiced suspicions that Pakistan's intelligence agencies sheltered bin Laden, but Pakistan has dismissed the idea.
Bin Laden's network killed nearly 3000 people when al Qaeda hijackers crashed commercial planes into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington and a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
LIFE ON THE RUN
The report draws its conclusions based on interviews with 201 witnesses including members of bin Laden's family and various government, army and intelligence officials.
It offers insights into the dramatic night of his death, as well as years of his life on the run, painting a picture of a restless and paranoid man who was often on the move to avoid being caught.
According to the report, bin Laden had arrived in Pakistan in the spring or summer of 2002, at one point spending two years in Haripur before moving to the Abbottabad compound with his big family in August 2005.
"All the places in Pakistan where OBL (Osama bin Laden) stayed are not fully known," the report stated. "But it included FATA (South Waziristan and Bajaur), Peshawar, Swat and Haripur."
It found that he had probably crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan's Tora Bora area, where US forces were hunting him, sometime in 2002, although his family moved from Afghanistan's Kandahar to Karachi shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"They kept a very low profile and lived extremely frugally. They never exposed themselves to public view. They had minimum security," the report said.
"OBL successfully minimised any 'signature' of his presence. His minimal support group blended easily with the surrounding community ... His wives, children and grandchildren hardly ever emerged from the places where they stayed."
It added: "No one ever visited them, not even trusted al-Qaeda members."
The Daily Telegraph, London, Reuters