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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

World

Osama near Abbottabad, Kabul told Islamabad four years back
IANS
London, May 06, 2011
First Published: 16:38 IST(6/5/2011)
Last Updated: 16:43 IST(6/5/2011)

Afghan intelligence had told Islamabad nearly four years back that the most hunted al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was hiding in an area near Abbottabad, but nothing was done about it as the claim was rejected by then president Pervez Musharraf, a former top spy has said.

Osama bin Laden was shot dead by US commandos who stormed his hideout in Abbottabad city May 2.

Afghanistan's former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh told The Guardian newspaper in Kabul that the National Directorate of Security (NDS) sleuths had come to the conclusion as early as in 2004 that the world's most wanted man must be inside Pakistan and not in semi-autonomous tribal areas.

The former spy master said they believed Osama must be within Pakistan due to thousands of interrogation reports and the logical assumption that Osama, who was a millionaire with "no background of toughness", would not be living in a tent.

"I was pretty sure he was in the settled areas of Pakistan because in 2005 it was still very easy to infiltrate the tribal areas, and we had massive numbers of informants there," he was qouted as saying.

By the year 2007, the Afghan intelligence had become more accurate and they believed the al Qaeda leader was hiding in Manshera, a town located a short drive away from Abbottabad city.

Saleh said that Musharraf was outraged at the suggestion that the al Qaeda chief was hiding in such a prominent part of the country.

Recounting a meeting held between Musharraf and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Saleh said Musharraf became so angry that he smashed his fist down on the table.

"He (Musharraf) said, 'Am I the president of the Republic of Banana?'," said Saleh.

"Then he turned to President Karzai and said, 'Why have you brought this Panjshiri guy to teach me intelligence?'"

Saleh, who is considered anti-Islamabad by Pakistani officials, stressed he had no doubt that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was hiding in a safe house of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Karachi city.

"He is protected by ISI, General Pasha (ISI chief) knows...where is Mullah Omar and he keeps daily briefs from his officers about the location of senior Taliban leaders, simple," Saleh told The Guardian.


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