The mystery surrounding the source of information about the whereabouts of killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is still, well a mystery.
While the movie Zero Dark Thirty, based on the story surrounding the decade long hunt for Bin Laden and his subsequent assassination, is getting rave reviews, an article in a Pakistani newspaper in May 2011 had claimed that the story that a courier helped track Bin Laden was just a cover.
While the story, published in The News on May 14, 2011, is an old one but I came across it while going through Wikileaks’ release, The Global Intelligence Files. The whistleblowing website began publishing millions of e-mails (between July 2004 and late December 2011) from the “global intelligence” company Stratfor.
One of the email (dated May 14, 2011) refers to this article. The article, written by Wajid Ali Syed, claims that “the CIA actually learned of Bin Laden’s whereabouts in August of 2010, when an informant associated with Pakistani intelligence walked into a US Embassy and claimed that Bin Laden was living in a house in Abbottabad. The official, however, would not disclose whether the Embassy was located in Pakistan or Afghanistan.”
The article poses an interesting question: “Did a Pakistani intelligence official sell the information about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden to the US last year to get millions of dollars and relocate to a western country with a new non-Pakistani passport?”
The newspaper report claims that: “After confirming that the information was somewhat accurate, the CIA set up a safe house in Abbottabad in September last year (2010) to monitor Bin Laden’s compound.”
The report further states:
As the intelligence collection proceeded, the CIA demanded that Pakistan come clean with what they knew about Bin Laden, claims the official. In December of 2010, the CIA station chief’s identity was made public in the Pakistani press. The intelligence official says that the station chief’s cover was blown to retaliate against the CIA for pressing Pakistani intelligence for information about bin Laden. At the time, the speculation was that the move was in response to a civil suit accusing ISI officials of being involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Once it was clear that the information from the walk-in source was accurate, Panetta set up a reporting chain from the CIA’s Pakistan station direct to him, a highly unusual move that involved bypassing the normal official channels.