London: American diplomats were told that one of the key reasons why they had failed to find Osama bin Laden for years was that Pakistan’s security services tipped him off whenever US troops approached, according to claims made in leaked US government documents obtained by WikiLeaks.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) also allegedly smuggled al Qaeda terrorists through airport security to help them avoid capture and sent a unit into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban, the WikiLeaks cables obtained by Britain’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ show.
The claims, the daily said, will add to questions over Pakistan’s capacity to fight the dreaded terror outfit al-Qaeda.
In December 2009, the government of Tajikistan warned the US that efforts to catch bin Laden were being thwarted by corrupt Pakistani spies.
According to a US diplomatic dispatch, General Abdullo Sadulloevich Nazarov, a senior Tajik counter-terrorism official, told the Americans that “many” inside Pakistan knew where bin Laden was.
The document stated, “In Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden wasn’t an invisible man, and many knew his whereabouts in North Waziristan, but whenever security forces attempted a raid on his hideouts, the enemy received warning of their approach from sources in the security forces.”
Last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron caused a diplomatic furore when he told Pakistan that it could not “look both ways” on terrorism. The Pakistani government issued a strongly-worded rebuttal.
The successful night raid on Osama in the garrison town of Abbottabad, 120 km from Islamabad, yesterday was carried out without the knowledge of the Pakistan government.
In addition, intelligence obtained from prisoners at Guantanamo Bay likely made US officials reluctant to share information with their Pakistani counterparts.
Intelligence gathered from detainees at Guantanamo Bay may also have made the Americans wary of sharing their operational plans with the Pakistani government, the paper said.
One detainee, Saber Lal Melma, an Afghan whom the US described as a probable facilitator for al-Qaeda, allegedly worked with the ISID to help members flee Afghanistan after the American bombing began in October 2001.
His US military Guantanamo Bay detainee file, obtained by WikiLeaks and seen by ‘The Daily Telegraph’, claims he allegedly passed the al-Qaeda Arabs to Pakistani security forces who then smuggled them across the border into Pakistan.
He was also overheard “bragging about a time when the ISID sent a military unit into Afghanistan, posing as civilians to fight alongside the Taliban against US forces”, according to the file.
He also allegedly detailed ISID’s protection of Al-Qaida members at Pakistan airports. The ISID members diverted Al-Qaida members through unofficial channels to avoid detection from officials in search of terrorists, the file claims. Agencies