Was bin Laden really calling the shots?


The US intelligence released footage of a grey-bearded, dishevelled figure wrapped in a shawl and wearing a woollen hat, and then it said that this same old man had been calling the shots on al Qaeda’s plots around the globe. There was doubt and derision in Pakistan on Sunday at the suggestion that Osama bin Laden’s hideout north of the capital, Islamabad, was somehow an “active command and control centre” for al Qaeda.
“It sounds ridiculous,” said a senior intelligence official, adding, “It doesn’t sound like he was running a terror network.” For one thing, there was no internet connection or even telephone lines into the compound that the US commandos raided a week ago, killing the world’s most-wanted man. More critically, analysts have long maintained that, years before bin Laden’s death, al Qaeda had fragmented into a decentralised group that operated tactically without him.
“It’s bullshit,” said another senior Pakistani security official, when questioned on a US intelligence official’s assertion that bin Laden had been “active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions” of the militant group from his secret home in the town of Abbottabad. “They will say whatever they like. I can say tomorrow that he was planning to make nuclear or chemical weapons, would you believe it? I think there’s an element of exaggeration. They’re playing it up,” he added.
A senior US intelligence official said in Washington information carted away from the compound by the US forces after the May 2 raid, including videos, several clips of which were released, represented the largest trove of intelligence ever obtained from a single terrorism suspect. The official said the materials showed that bin Laden had remained an active leader of al Qaeda, which made the operation that led to his death “even more essential for our nation’s security.”
On the other side, Pakistan’s military, caught off guard by the Abbottabad swoop and now facing accusations that it was either too incompetent to catch bin Laden or complicit in hiding him, has sought to depict the al Qaeda leader as a man of diminished influence.
Both countries have an interest in peddling their own versions of the clout that bin Laden carried from behind the walls of his compound.
Stressing bin Laden’s weakness made his discovery in the middle of a garrison town less embarrassing for Pakistan, but playing up his importance made the US operation all the more glorious. Analysts said bin Laden’s centrality to the network had already faded. While the man behind the 9/11 attacks on the US served as an inspirational figure. “As a matter of leadership of terrorist operations, bin Laden has really not been the main story for some time,” Paul Pillar, a former senior US intelligence official told Reuters last week.
Talat Masood, a Pakistani defence analyst and retired general, said bin Laden distributed videos occasionally and he might have passed computer disks with ideas for strikes to his couriers, but it was hard to see how that would put him at the nerve centre of operations. “The only thing he could have done in that house is to record video and audio messages,” a senior security official said in Islamabad.
“How could he control the whole of al Qaeda from there while he had no communications system? How can he control the entire al Qaeda when he was living with two guards, an 18-inch television and no big weapons? It’s just an exaggeration.”


  1. The vital part of the plausibility of the american story is in the hands of Pakistan: If they continue play stupid people will believe anything. All reinforcement will be done by statements by children of Osama. Who will not believe a traumatized 12 year old kid?

  2. Damned if he has died and damn-est if he has not.Do not make world crazy with your hundred of trillions dollars false neocon business 'war on terror,.You lied on WMDS,Iraq war,Afghanistan war.You create Osmas,Sadams,Musharraf,Zardaris etc to perpetuate false wars for your neocon masters to plunder hundred of trillion of dollars,no matter American taxpayer loose one thousand trillion dollars in debts etc.You are money hungry nation of liars.People of world;DECIMATE THE NEOCONS.

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