Saludada’s Blog

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ISI and How Osama Bin Laden was found (not caught)

Since the capture of Osama Bin Laden few hundred meters away from Pakistan Military Academy in what can only be described as a fortress, all kinds of questions have been raised about the ISI. The idea that the ISI was involved with OBL was the first to be carelessly thrown around. Then there were questions about ISI’s competence.

While giving closed-doors briefing to the House members, CIA director Leon Panetta told lawmakers “either they were involved or incompetent. Neither place is a good place to be.” Neither is necessarily true.

While its certainly embarrassing that OBL was found in Pakistan and that too so close to a sensitive military complex (the ISI feels the same way too) questioning the agency’s competence is still a stretch. The suggestion that ISI is incompetent or worse, complicit is completely ludicrous.

The compound where OBL was found was on the ISI’s radar and raided in 2003 (while still under construction) in search of Al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libi, but nothing turned up then. Since then that compound fell off the radar and wasn’t on the CIA’s radar either till 2010.

Lets take a look back at how exactly was the most wanted man in the world found. Al-Qaeda member Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was the man who led the US forces to OBL. However, Al-Kuwaiti proved to be a very difficult man to find. The name first appeared when Hassan Ghul, an Al-Qaeda operative, was arrested in Iraq by Kurdish Police. Ghul later became one of CIA’s ghost prisoners. He was not taken to Guantanamo Bay, but instead was allegedly interrogated by the CIA in a Pakistani Prison.

Another crucial lead in identifying Al-Kuwaiti came through the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad aka KSM. Now it should be noted that KSM was captured by the ISI in Rawalpindi and handed over to the US.

KSM is as hard a man as they come. He was waterboarded nearly 200 times and that still didn’t break him. KSM routinely gave interrogators false information. When questioned, he admitted knowing a man who went by the name of Al-Kuwaiti but denied he had anything to do with Al-Qaeda.

Another high ranking Al-Qaeda official also totted a similar line. Abu Faraj al-Libi,  caught by the ISI in 2005 is said to have replaced KSM as Al-Qaeda’s third in command. While being interrogated by the US, Al-Libi admitted that an Al-Qaeda courier informed him that he was to replace KSM but but denied knowing al-Kuwaiti so strenuously CIA figured he must be important.

The CIA learned more about Al-Kuwaiti through the ’20th Hijacker’, Muhammed Mani al-Qahtani. He told interrogators that he received computer training from Al-Kuwaiti to securely contact his handlers when he went to the US. He of course never made it to the US and was deported. He went to Afghanistan and remained in direct contact with OBL in Kandahar. He too was arrested by the ISI in 2001 and handed over to CIA within 12 days.

These are the four men, 3 of them high value Al-Qaeda operative caught by the ISI, which led to Osama Bin Laden. If it hadn’t been for work the ISI did, OBL would still be out there and the US should not forget that fact.


May 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment