North Korea, India Reaction, Pakistan, Special Comment with Two Sources, Al Qaeda-US, Taliban
Source: Asia Times, 3 May 2011, The Life and Death of Osama Bin Laden
Source: Washington Post, 3 May 2011, Bin Laden discovered ‘hiding in plain sight’
North Korea: For the record. A search of public information sources disclosed no North Korean media mention of the death of bin Laden.
India: Reaction. India wants the United States to minimize the role Pakistan plays in the future of Afghanistan and to attach tougher conditions to the aid it provides Pakistan, an unidentified senior Indian official said. According to the official, India fears the United States will accelerate its exit from Afghanistan as a result of Usama bin Laden’s death, which will increase Pakistani influence in the region and ease the pressure on militant groups targeting India.
The official said the job is not finished in Afghanistan and the withdrawal will be disastrous. According to the official, the only reason to give Pakistan a major role in Afghanistan would be if the United States needed to stop the war quickly. India would prefer the United States to develop its partnership with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and leave Pakistan out of the picture, the official added.
Comment: The discovery of bin Laden living in luxury in a Pakistani military town confirmed India’s worst fears about Pakistani perfidy and support for terrorists. Whatever little bit of trust was restored in the past month from Prime Minister Singh’s “cricket diplomacy” has been undermined. The hard-line Hindu nationalists have been vindicated.
The fact of bin Laden’s residency in mainstream Pakistan could lead to a loss of confidence in Prime Minister Singh’s government.
Pakistan: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said Pakistan will do a full inquiry as to why its intelligences services were not able to track al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden earlier, AFP reported May 3. Bin Laden obviously had support within Pakistan, but it is unknown if that support came from the state or the society, Haqqani said. He added that many Pakistanis share bin Laden’s extremist beliefs and would protect him. He said Pakistan as a nation must re-evaluate its view of the whole problem, adding that any questions about intelligence failures will be addressed.
Comment: For ten years, the world has heard Musharraf, Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani deny that bin Laden was in Pakistan. Now it has been established that he lived for six years on the outskirts of Islamabad, which includes the time when Musharraf was President.
The two primary hypotheses are quite clear: Pakistani intelligence and security officials knew about and supported bin Laden and lied or Pakistani intelligence and security, plus the national executives, are utterly incompetent and untrustworthy. It will take some time for sufficient evidence to emerge to determine which conclusion is the more accurate. Meanwhile, the international perceptions of official mendacity and incompetence will run in parallel.
Pakistan will have a hard time reassuring any country that its word is true. A fragile civilian government might not be able to survive the repercussions of the raid and the implications of finding bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Special Comment: The Washington Post published on 3 May the unofficial official version of the operation to neutralize bin Laden. Four US helicopters with US Navy SEALS in two waves were involved. They flew nap of the earth and through radar-masked valleys without detection, executed their mission and flew back safely with the body.
An alternative narrative was published by Asia Times onLine’s Syed Saleem Shahzad on 3 May that is worth consideration. According to this version, the operation to Abbottabad was the second of the year and mimicked the US operation to snatch Umar Patek, the man responsible for the Bali bombing in Indonesia in 2002.
In this version, Pakistan again gave permission for US helicopters to stage from a Pakistani base and forces were alerted to provide assistance to the US as necessary. The US did not inform Pakistan that bin Laden was the target, but allowed Pakistani intelligence to believe that the second raid was a follow-up to round up supporters of Patek.
The Washington Post account and the Asia Times onLine account are not necessarily contradictory. Each leaves out portions of the raid that the other potentially supplies. There is no profit to either side at this early period after the raid to divulge the entire truth because of the potential for backlash, but a blend of the two seems much more plausible than either one alone.
Al Qaida-US: Ten hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices, including discs, DVDs and thumb drives, were taken from the compound where bin Laden was hiding, a senior U.S. official said on 3 May. The U.S. administration received three sets of photos, including images of bin Laden’s body at a hangar after he was taken to Afghanistan; this photo provided the most recognizable image of his face, the official said. There were also photos of bin Laden’s burial at sea on the USS Carl Vinson — both before and after the shroud was put on — and of the raid itself, including pictures of the two deceased brothers and one of bin Laden’s dead sons of approximately 18 years of age as well as of the inside of the compound.
Comment: Syed Saleem Shahzad made four points. The al Qaida leaders anticipated the death of bin Laden for years and made preparations by decentralizing operations and forming a leadership committee to elect a new leader in the even of bin Laden’s demise.
Secondly, al Qaida leaders deliberately kept bin Laden separated from his deputy Zawahiri. Zawahiri has been the operational leader of al Qaida for the past six years.
Third, because of the loss of computer files, all plans for future operations will now be stopped. Contacts and financial donors would be high priority exploitation items, after plans in progress. The computer files should prove highly embarrassing and compromising to many people in many countries, with any luck at all.
Finally, the alternative narrative of Pakistani support is the one that the Pakistani Taliban believe. It has made them more determined than ever to topple the government in Islamabad, but now with more support from Afghan Taliban than before.
Afghanistan: Taliban reaction. The Afghan Taliban said 3 May that they have not seen sufficient evidence yet to convince them that al Qaida leader Usama bin Laden is dead. A statement emailed to media by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the United States has not provided acceptable evidence to back up the claim of Usama bin Laden’s death, nor have aides close to the al Qaida leader confirmed or denied his death.
Phi Beta Iota: The third alternative remains to be investigated: that the US and Pakistan conspired to execute a theatrical operation intended to allow immediate US departure from Afghanistan with the rather creative covert influence benefit of giving pause to those who might think they are in touch with or known to Bin Laden or his surrogates. In combination with US ineffectiveness in responding to the widespread fervor for liberation in the Middle East and North Africa, and the increasingly effective conventional overtures of Iran and Turkey throughout the region, we continue to regard this entire matter as being in the realm of theater rather than reality. There is also no credible ability on the part of the media to explore what the Pakistani government (and military–two different beasts) are telling the Taliban, India, or others, to include quiet confirmation of theater (imagine Pakistan doing the same in West Point, New York, claiming to have successfully tracked Dick Cheney to his hide-out there, and then executed this operation to extract him, never producing the body). All very interesting; all inconclusive; and all not actually making a difference on 9-11 truth, reduction of the military-industrial complex, or improvement in US governance or the US economy. Smoke and mirrors until proven otherwise.