Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was protected by elements of Pakistan's security apparatus in return for millions of dollars of Saudi cash, an American security analyst has claimed.
Raelynn Hillhouse’s version, based on evidence from sources in what she calls the "intelligence community", contradicts the official account that bin Laden was tracked down through his trusted courier, The Telegraph reports.
Hillhouse, a former professor and Fulbright fellow and also an ex-rum and jewel smuggler, cited sources that contend it was an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer who came forward to claim the approximately 25-million-dollar bounty on bin Laden’s head and to broker US citizenship for his family.
"My sources tell me that the informant claimed that the Saudis were paying off the Pakistani military and intelligence (ISI) to essentially shelter and keep bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad, a city with such a high concentration of military that I''m told there''s no equivalent in the US," Hillhouse wrote on her intelligence blog.
After confirming bin Laden''s presence in the military town, the US approached Pakistan''s military leaders securing their co-operation in return for cash and a chance to avoid public humiliation.
Hillhouse, who is known for her links to private military contractors that work extensively with the CIA, says Pakistan gave permission for a covert mission which would then be covered up by claiming bin Laden had been killed in a drone strike.
“Things went south when the helicopter crashed. The White House freaked and the cooperating Pakistanis were thrown under the bus. Splat,” she added.
The theory, if true, would explain how American black hawk helicopters were able to fly deep into Pakistani territory in May without encountering any resistance.
However, a senior Pakistani security official denied that the ISI had sheltered bin Laden.
"We don''t use toilet paper – we wash," he said. "But toilet paper is all this theory is good for."
A spokesman for the US Department of Defense said: "We have no additional operational details, or comments on operational details, to make at this time."