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Why Did It Take So Long to Find Bin Laden?
4th May 2011
I wrote some time back first part of an article A New Dark age. I have to still write second part. But events of last few weeks indeed give a new perspective to all these affairs. I will rather wait a little to get back to it. Though I still feel it may be needed. I did not do much in hub pages during this time. Partly because of my traveling. I am still in USA/Canada. Plan to be here for a few months. Meanwhile I wrote a comment in a discussion in NY Times on "Why Did It Take So Long to Find Bin Laden?". I wrote a comment in one of the articles in this discussion. Let me share it with you.
My comment in NY Times
I live in Mumbai but often visit USA and USA is like second home country for me. I very regularly see news papers from USA, India and Pakistan. Looking at Pakistani news papers, often I am amazed that in such a large country, with so many good writers and analysts, except for a tiny number of writers, practically no one wants to see the reality that their army top and feudal rulers are using religion, terrorism and generating of passions against USA, India etc. just as a tool to keep their rule intact and milking away all the money to their own bank accounts etc.
They blame every one Americans, Indians, Europeans but not their own rulers (partly because they are afraid of them too). They rarely in any discussion talk about the real cause, which is themselves (for accepting to become tools at the hands of their rulers) and their rulers. One such example is that they always blame USA for supporting rise of terrorist organizations in their country during Russian occupation of Afghanistan etc. but rarely point at real cause that they and their rulers allowed this rise themselves and were more enthusiastic than USA to allow this rise and use it against India and Afghanistan later.
But over the years I find that even in countries like India or USA where there is a complete freedom to discuss any issue, often either right people do not get opportunity to participate in public debates or just debates are sort of directed by anchors and editors to take path they like and not what the actual situation is. As a result you do not see it reflecting general sentiment. Often it does not even discuss obvious answers to a problem, very clearly visible and which is in mind of almost every one.
For example in the discussions here I am amazed that in all discussions and comments, all possible causes of delay in finding Osama and punishing him are discussed but I do not see real cause from American view point, at all reflected.
There is very little doubt that at least some people in ruling class and army top in Pakistan (most likely even rulers of countries like Saudi Arabia) are helping and financing Osama and other similar terrorists. So obviously some of them also helped in his hiding. That, no doubt is the main cause of delay. It is not just with Osama, more or less the same mechanism is being used to hide other criminals and terrorists in Pakistan. For example smuggler Dawood Ibrahim, declared by USA as an international terrorist, who has caused perhaps even more deaths and destruction in India, lives in a big mansion in Karachi, according to accounts by many journalists from Pakistan and India. But Pakistani rulers deny even its existence. Indian government ministers, secretaries and security agencies are so incompetent that they are unable to track him and raise questions about him properly with Pakistani rulers.
USA ruling class elected and other officers are surely not so incompetent. They have enough control over ruling classes in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia etc. to force a change in attitudes in these countries. Recent awakenings in Arab countries and also sentiments visible in Pakistan do show that majority in these countries does not support this attitude of their rulers. So USA government is in a position to force out a change. But why it is unable to do that?
Problem lies with the policies USA has been following for last several years. As a result it has been unable to stop financing and supporting these rulers and army top in Pakistan Saudi Arabia etc. For last several years rulers in USA seem to be fond of putting their country in quagmire situations, where they are fighting a war (or some cause) from both sides. For example in Af-Pak sector, it has compulsions to continue to support and finance these very rulers and army top (otherwise it may find itself unable to send food and stuff to its soldiers or earlier it had compulsions to bring down Russians) thus indirectly it helps in financing the terrorists and at the same time it sends its own soldiers to fight the same terrorists who are being financed by money starting from USA government. It tries to stop nuclear or missile proliferation but at the same time it puts all efforts to hide proliferation by Pakistan and by China as a bargain for supporting its cause. It sees the problem China is creating by manipulating its foreign exchange but it also supports Chinese regime to support the same because of pressure from some of its corporate sectors.
While there is no doubt that the main cause of delay in catching Osama is rulers and army top in Pakistan and some Arab rulers etc., the main cause includes USA getting into such quagmires and supporting and financing activities of these rulers. But I see very little discussion about these aspects in this whole discussion in NY Times
1. It seems for several years many in Pakistan did know that Bin Laden was in Pakistani army-ISI control and living in a garrison city.
After writing this comment, I read many articles, some of them I give links below. One of them by Farhat Taj, a Pakistani research scholar in Oslo (see links 11 below), Norway shows clearly that she had quite clear idea even in 2007 that Bin Laden is in some sort of custody of Army-ISI in Pakistan. She was even told that he is living in some garrison city. in Pakistan. There was a big turmoil in Pakistan in 2008-9 about naming of Khyber-Pakhunistan province. She was told that riots, during that time, created in Hazara part of province (Abbottabad, where Bin Laden was captured and killed, would have been capital of Hazara part) were work of Pakistani intelligence agencies because they had to hide Bin Laden's hide-out etc.
I wonder some thing which a research scholar can find out easily why CIA and all the American might could not find out. Or perhaps some in USA agencies also may have known but had interest just like Pakistani agencies in not getting it disclosed. These are the questions which puzzle every one. While Pakistan has to change whole its idea and style of ruling by army top with such mentality, one wonders whether such aspects will be discussed at all in USA. Will some heads role in USA also? These are the question Michael Moore also asks (see links 11 below)
2. An account of Life in Pakistan after the kiling in Abbotabad: American General Petraeus had tipped off Pakistani General Kayani about imminent raid?
A news article in UK news paper Daily Mirror (see links 4 below) draws scenes of life and views in Pakistan and in the garrison town of Abbotabad. It feels you with a very sad feeling indeed. Here are some of excerpts from the article.
a. A survey found two-thirds of people in Pakistan refuse to accept Bin Laden’s death, despite confirmation by Al Qaeda. Even the country’s most revered lawyer told me ‘the ghost of Osama has survived his execution’ given the lack of concrete evidence, storing up problems for the future.'
b. Pakistan has also become the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power – bigger than Britain or France.
c. Bin Laden’s compound was found among cabbage fields in a new residential area on the edge of the military sector. A mosque is being built nearby, while graffiti proclaiming ‘Osama Town’ and ‘Osama is a martyr’ has been hastily painted over. Residents said the two sides of the town rarely mixed.
d. Even at the Red Mosque, scene of vicious gun battles four years ago, the hotheads were friendly after Friday prayers as they ranted about Osama and the need for vengeance.
‘He was a good Muslim who we will pray for. He is still alive in our hearts,’ said a 20-year-old, himself called Osama, before shaking hands politely at the end of our discussion.
There were barely 200 of them, while foreign reporters milled around looking for incendiary quotes. I watched as a BBC news crew carefully repositioned one young firebrand to have bearded zealots behind him to ensure the usual images of Pakistan were presented to the world.
Cut out of the picture were two teenagers laughing and nudging each other at their friend’s antics for the camera.
e. There were three high-profile US military visits in seven days at the end of last month, culminating with the arrival of General David Petraeus, the next CIA chief.
Petraeus and Kayani met at a heavily guarded airbase. Afterwards, the US embassy underlined the pair’s close personal rapport. This was just seven days before Bin Laden’s killing.
Sources say Petraeus tipped off the Pakistani military leader about the imminent raid and insist Kayani kept the information to himself. This explains the lack of reaction to a military incursion so far into Pakistani territory, since Kayani would have had to sanction any response.
1. Discussion in NY Times
2. An article by Spengler (David Goldman )-one of the best analysis on this incident and also an equally interesting assessment of what went wrong with USA policies by Chan Akya
3. An article in a Pakistan news paper about what happened in
Abbottabad. The article and comments show all attitudes in Pakistan
by Qaiser Butt
4. A news item about protest against Bin laden Killing in Abbotabad in a Pakistani news paper. protests in what Daily Mail of UK calls London-istan
Protests in what Daily Mail of UK calls London-istan
This just in from London-istan: Violent clashes outside U.S. Embassy after hundreds of UK Muslims stage mock funeral for 'murdered' Bin Laden
A news article in Daily Mirror on life in Pakistan and Abbotabad after the killing
I saw BBC news crew move one firebrand so he'd have bearded zealots behind him: IAN BIRRELL on troubling aftermath of Bin Laden killing
5. Analysis on Bin Laden Killing in Abbotabad by Pakistani columnist Nadeem Paracha. He must be among best analysts from Pakistan
6. An article published by Reuters tracing history of ISI -CIA relationships, problems and terror related adventurism by Pakistani rulers and army top
7. A news item in a Pakistani news paper implying finding of Osama could be result of internal rifts in his organization. May be these news items are false pretensions, still worth looking at all possibilities and then deleting useless ones.
An interesting article by Ahmad Ali Khalid on how badly people from South Asia are treated in Saudi Arabia and how Saudi is teaching its citizens and others (for example in Pakistan) to hate all who are not Sunni Muslims.
8. Three articles by Pakistani expert Syed Saleem Shahzad describing type of people with whom USA and NATO are perhaps trying to negotiate in the name of compromise with Taliban and an article by Shahid Javed Burki from Pakistan
9. An account of this whole incident, claims by Americans, counterclaims by Pakistan their starting of verbal game, gives you a feeling of this murky world of terrorists, spies of ISI and their verbal duels with CIA and collaborations etc. - by a reporter of a UK news paper Daily Mail. Though tone is a little unreasonably strong anti-American but with a lot of wits (wit, one should expect any way in some thing coming from UK)
Tug of war over the young bride who tried to save Bin Laden as Pakistan refuses to hand her over to the U.S.
10. If you want to go through the pain and dilemma of people of Pakistan on the role of their army in this whole affair, views of average mass away from feudal rulers and army - go through this article by Cyril Almeida. Very pessimistic assessment full of agony of an average citizen but quite close to reality. As he says every body in Pakistan knows (also perhaps in India and USA but every one wants to escape from reality). s\Some more articles with similar observations by Pakistani writers Dr. Mohammad Taqui, Ayaz Amir and Shahid Saeed, Ardeshir Cowasjee and Kamia Hyat.
Another interesting article by Pakistani writer Murtaza Rizvi with current assessments of problems in Pakistan and a change of attitude among rulers needed
11. Article by Farhat Taj, a Pakistani research Scholar in Norway. She had clear information even in 2007 that Bin Laden was in Pakistani army-ISI custody.
An interesting interview by Michele Moore. Questions he raises, almost all in USA, India or any democratic country must be wondering about. It does not matter which party is in power, those who are in the ruling circles try to evade them. Text was republished in Times of India.