Osama bin Laden likely had “some sort” of a support network inside Pakistan, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Sunday, but added it will take investigations by Pakistan and the United States to find out the nature of that support.
“We think there had to be some sort of support network for Bin Laden inside of Pakistan,” Obama said in an excerpt of an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” program to be aired in full later on Sunday.
“But we don’t know who or what that support network was. We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate,” Obama said.
The interview comes a week after the al Qaeda leader was killed by U.S. commandos in a garrison town a short drive from Pakistan’s capital.
Pakistan’s government has “indicated they have a profound interest in finding out what kinds of support networks bin Laden might have had,” Obama said. “But these are questions that we’re not going to be able to answer three or four days after the event. It’s going to take some time for us to be able to exploit the intelligence that we were able to gather on site.”
In other television appearances by administration officials on Sunday the White House took some heat off Pakistan’s government, saying it had no evidence that Islamabad knew bin Laden was living in the country.
“I can tell you directly that I’ve not seen evidence that would tell us that the political, the military, or the intelligence leadership had foreknowledge of bin Laden,” U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani is scheduled to “take the nation into confidence” in parliament on Monday, his first statement to the people more than a week after the attack on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, 30 miles (50 km) north of Islamabad, embarrassed the country and raised fears of a new rift between Islamabad and Washington.
Suspicion has deepened that Pakistan’s pervasive Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, which has a long history of contacts with militant groups, may have had ties with the al Qaeda leader — or that some of its agents did.
Pakistan has dismissed such suggestions and says it has paid the highest price in human life and money supporting the U.S. war on militancy launched after bin Laden’s followers staged the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, told ABC’s “This Week” his government would act on the results of the investigation.
“And heads will roll, once the investigation has been completed. Now, if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you. And if, God forbid, somebody’s complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that, as well.”
The ambassador said Pakistan had “many jihadi has-beens from the 1980s who are still alive and well and kicking, and some of them could have been helping them, but they are not in the state or government of Pakistan today.” Reuters