‘Seized cell phone links ISI to Osama courier’ | Pakistan Today

‘Seized cell phone links ISI to Osama courier’

A mobile phone used by Osama bin Laden’s courier had shown that the slain al Qaeda chief was aided by militants linked to Pakistani intelligence agencies, the New York Times said in a report on Friday.
Citing US officials briefed on an investigation into the phone, the Times said calls from the device were traced to Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a militant group linked to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. “It’s a serious lead,” one US official told the Times. “It’s an avenue we’re investigating.” The phone was seized during the May 2 raid in Abbottabad that killed bin Laden and his courier. The Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen is classified as a “terrorist” organisation by the US.
The Times said it had maintained clandestine links with the ISI for years. The discovery indicated that bin Laden used Harkat-ul-Mujahideen as part of his support network inside the country, the officials and others told the Times. In tracing the calls on the phone, American analysts had determined that Harkat commanders had called Pakistani intelligence officials, senior American officials told the newspaper. One said they had met.
The official told the newspaper that the link was not, however, a “smoking gun” that definitively linked bin Laden to the ISI, as it was unclear if the calls were related to him. The newspaper quoted analysts familiar with the group as saying that the discovery might help answer how and why bin Laden or his protectors chose Abbottabad, seeing as Harkat had especially deep roots in the area around the garrison town and the network provided by the group would have enhanced bin Laden’s ability to live and function in Pakistan.
The newspaper said Harkat leaders had strong ties with both al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence, and they could roam widely because they were Pakistanis, something the foreigners who made up al Qaeda’s ranks could not do. Even today, claimed the newspaper, the group’s leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, long one of bin Laden’s closest Pakistani associates, lived unbothered by Pakistani authorities on the outskirts of Islamabad.
The senior American officials did not name the commanders whose numbers were in the courier’s phone, said the Times, but said that the militants were in South Waziristan, where al Qaeda and other groups had been based for years. Harkat’s network would have allowed bin Laden to pass on instructions to al Qaeda members there and in other parts of Pakistan’s tribal areas, the newspaper quoted analysts and officials as saying. Officials and analysts said Harkat had been a favored tool of the ISI.
Harkat “is one of the oldest and closest allies of al Qaeda, and they are very, very close to the ISI,” Bruce O Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, told the Times. Two former militant commanders and one senior fighter who had received support from the ISI for years told the Times, on condition of anonymity because of their covert existence, that they were convinced the spy agency had played a part in sheltering bin Laden.
One of the commanders belonged to Harkat, and the other said he had fought as a guerrilla and trained others for 15 years while on the payroll of the Pakistani military, until he quit a few years ago. He said that he had met bin Laden twice. The former commander told the newspaper that in the spring of 2003, bin Laden, accompanied by a personal guard unit of Arab and Chechen fighters, arrived unexpectedly at a gathering of 80 to 90 militants at a village in the Shawal mountain range of North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
He met bin Laden briefly inside a house; he said he knew it was him because they had met before, in Afghanistan before 9/11. For about three years before the American drone attacks began, bin Laden was moving from place to place in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal areas, the commander said. The commander speculated that bin Laden was moved to a safe house in a city after the CIA began an elaborate search to catch him, though he did not say he knew that bin Laden had gone to Abbottabad.
He and the other commander, who spent 10 years with Harkat, offered no proof of their belief that bin Laden was under military protection, but the newspaper said their views were informed by their years of work with the ISI and their knowledge of how the spy agency routinely handled militant leaders it considered assets — placing them under protective custody in cities, often close to military installations.
An American government official familiar with the analysis of the bin Laden material told the Times that bin Laden’s courier appeared to have used a camp in Mansehra that belonged to a Harkat splinter group, Jaish-e-Muhammad, as a transit stop.
HARKAT DENIES: Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, meanwhile, denied the Times report that it had links with bin Laden and was part of his Pakistan support network. “Al Qaeda had their own discipline, their own thinking, their own organisation. We have never ever been in touch with Osama,” a spokesman for the group told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC’s Ilyas Khan said it was difficult to establish if the group had had recent contact with al Qaeda, but added that it certainly had a long history of cooperation with the global terrorist outfit.
The Pakistani military also rejected the NYT story, calling it part of a “smear campaign” against its security forces, AFP reported. “It’s a part of a well orchestrated smear campaign against our security organisations,” a spokesman for the military said, adding that he rejects the insinuations. “Pakistan and its security forces have suffered the most at the hands of al Qaeda and have delivered the most against al Qaeda; our actions on (the) ground speak louder than the words of the Times,” he said in a statement.
Earlier, a Pakistani intelligence official told AFP that the ISI did not have the phone records and joked that “anybody can have contacts on his phone.”

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One Comment;

  1. Noorudin Balban said:

    Obama has not provided concrete proof of Osama killing.Why he was not caught alive when he had none to defend excepting as alleged by Obama that one woman procted her.If Osama had some thing to defend this woman could not had provided him the human shield.Further more the forty minutes time span of operation -is too fictional to be true.Osamas' son was killed and then he was not killed,where are Osamas' three wives and a dozen children-never shown on TV.Looks good for Democrats electoral consumption at the cost of 1000 trillion dollars wasted of American taxpayer money with human blood on the hands of USA,OBAMA,Bush and companies of one million dead,tem million mutilated,orphaned,widowed deserving genocidal trial by ICJ for crimes against humanity.What about killings by thousands in Libya when no terrorist act was even alleged to cause in USA.USA-Obama-Bush and companies are greatest terrorists and terrorists state exzcuting war on terror,lied war of WMDS on Iraq for super hegemony of fast declining America

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