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Posts Tagged Gen Petreaus

BIN LADINS CAPTURE: What really happened?

What  really happened?  


By Raqib  Shah



In August  2010 after Pakistani authorities shared intelligence with US about the  compound in Abbottabad, US  after its own intelligence gathering ascertains that the compound is  occupied by Osama’s children. Compound surveillance continues through the  next year in anticipation of capturing Osama bin  Laden. 

In  January 2011 the young CIA contractor who is given the charge of  Pakistan Station Chief works “extra hard” to gather clandestine  information related to ISI and Al Qaeda relationship.

The  contractor, now  infamous as Raymond Davis the “American Rambo” receives a call from one of  his assets, early morning on January 27 about a high value target. But the  asset refuses to lay out details on phone or to leave the Lahore city,  where he had gone underground.Raymond Davis hires a rent a car and drives  to Lahore, while his embassy’s security detail follows him in a  bullet proof Land Cruiser.

Raymond  Davis is able to loose his Islamabad’s ISI “detail”  by leaving in an unmarked  rented car.  The ISI agents falling for his trap follows the  embassy’s Land Cruiser. Raymond Davis arrives at Lahore one hour earlier  than his detail and meets with the asset. The asset gives him some  pictures of an intelligence building at Tarbela and recording of a phone  call. Listening to the phone  call, Raymond  Davis realizes the gold mine he had struck, and  immediately calls his security detail which had also reached Lahore,  knowing if ISI reaches him first, he would not leave Lahore  alive.

Next hour  when the security car catches up with Raymond Davis, the ISI bosses  realize that Raymond Davis had given them  a slip earlier in the morning and in couple of hours he may have done  in Lahore, he might have got some important information.  Resultantly, they put  two contractors on his tail. Raymond Davis seeing a tail fears the  worst and  shoots them both in the back, at a traffic stop, without logically  realizing that there was no way ISI could have known what  he was holding.

His  security detail which was close behind rushed to his  “rescue”. However, by this time police had chased and  arrested Raymond Davis, while the security Land Cruiser running over  pedestrians escapes towards US consulate compound  in Lahore. ISI officers quickly reach the scene and confiscating the  memory sticks realize Raymond Davis has unearthed a deep secret which even  their immediate bosses didn’t know about.

The  sensitivity of information rattles the entire echelons of the ISI and even  its own officers are sent under house arrest while the relevant cell steps  forward. At that time even some of the top intelligence officers of the  secretive ISI outside the relevant cell did not know that Osama bin Laden had died and  his body was kept frozen at Tarbela. Young Raymond Davis had  unearthed the biggest secret of the century, somehow. But now the  Pandora’s Box had been opened. Pak top brass knew it had only a few days  or weeks at best to capitalize Raymond Davis’ arrest before US get the  intel.

In the  next six weeks Pakistan plugs all leaks related to Osama’s death and makes  sure that maximum gains are made for Raymond’s release. However,when  Raymond Davis is released on March 16, his debriefing results in a tsunami  of US policy, personal agendas and fueling of political rivalries.  Everyone in the US chain of command now wanted to use the information to  further personal goals from General
Petreaus  to President Obama. On March 17, knowing that Pakistan had lost its trump  card General Pervaiz Kayani releases a press statement in which he  critically criticize drone attacks, first from him. From then on Pak  Military raised its stance against drone attacks, fearing that US now  might target its nuclear assets. 

While in  USA, politics was at its full swing. General Petreaus wanted to get  the buckle for Osama bin Laden’s death on his belt for his future  political ambitions, while President Obama wanted the credit to  help his  sliding popularity. While the tussle continued, the other issue still  pending was how to confirm Osama’s death.

In the  next one month, nearly every week a top US official visited Pakistan,  everyone meeting with General Kayani trying to convince him to hand over  Osama’s body. While the stance from Pakistan remained, “Osama, Who?” It  was a first in the history that so many US top officials had visited and  met with a military chief of a foreign country in such a short time.  Seeing nothing getting through the top military brass of Pakistan, US  started a political and media campaign on the sides to put extra pressure  on Pak Military.

Politics  within Obama Administration was also at its full swing. Petraeus was  pulling all the strings to take the credit, while trying to lay out a plan  to get Osama bin Laden’s body out of Pakistan. President Obama on the  other hand in one smooth move decided to “promote” Petraeus to the head of  the CIA. The news got out in the first week of April that Petraeus was  being transferred to the CIA. While at the main front, Obama continued to  pressurize General Kayani and General Pasha and on April 5, Obama  Administration submitted a report to the Congress that Pakistan government  had no clear strategy to triumph over militants. Alongside the report the  media campaign against Pak Military and the ISI continued.

The  second week of April began with a bang for top Pak Military brass. On  April 7, Bruce Riedel, former CIA officer and White House advisor wrote a  report arguing that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not only a deterrent to  India but also to USA. The obvious had now become clear that Obama  Administration has indirectly sent a clear threat to Pakistan’s nuclear  assets. The timing of the report was perfect with Centcom Chief Gen James  Mattis meeting with General Kayani next day. In the meeting General Mattis  asked about Pakistan’s cooperation in capturing Osama bin  Laden.

This was  ironically one of typical Hollywood thriller scene. Pakistan knew that US knew that Pakistan knows  that US knows that Osama is dead.But Pakistan continued the naive  game of “Osama Who?” while US continued to play the game that “Osama must  be captured”. General Mattis leaves with veiled threats and stresses that  Pakistan must do more to against the Al Qaeda and Taliban, or indirectly  saying that Osama bin Laden must be handed over.

For the  next ten days US waits and sees how Pakistan responds to the threats, but  Pakistan acts by burying its head in the sand – see no evil, hear no evil.  Obama Administration ups the ante and on April 18 on Pakistan’s Geo TV,  Adm. Mike Mullen said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence “has a  longstanding relationship with the Haqqani Network.That doesn’t mean  everybody in the ISI, but it’s there.” Again, international media had its  field day against Pakistan’s ISI and its links with  Taliban.

After  putting pressure on General Kayani, Adm. Mike Mullen meets with Chairman  of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wyne and  General Kayani on April 20. Admiral  Mullen again demands indirectly that Pakistan needs to help USA in  locating Osama bin Laden. Pakistan’s response was again, “Osama, Who?”  Admiral Mullen however, left with another threat that if they came to know  about Osama bin Laden’s location they would go ahead and take unilateral  action. This is the same message which President Obama repeated in his  announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death, when he said, “We will take  actions in Pakistan, if we knew where he was.” 

In  response to continued threats from USA, Pakistan  starts taking back its air bases from US in an attempt to avoid launching  of any operation from its own soil. As a result on April 22 the news  appears that Pakistan had taken back Shamsi Airbase from CIA/US  forces. While Obama Administration was piling pressure on Pakistan,  General Petraeus visited Pakistan on April 26 and met with General Kayani  openly asking him to hand over Osama bin Laden, otherwise get ready to  face the consequences. Same day Washington also critically attacked  Pakistan Army’s counter-terrorism efforts. General Petraeus left with a  clear message that unless Pakistan hands over Osama, US forces would be  forced to  take action over Pakistani soil. Pakistani Military knowing that US knew  that Osama bin Laden was dead couldn’t understand Obama Administration’s  continued stance on capturing Osama bin Laden. General Petraeus left with  the ultimatum that either Pakistan handed over Osama or US would get  him.

Same day  meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) is held at  Rawalpindi, one week  ahead of schedule at the Joint Staff Headquarters. The top brass  discussed the  Osama issue and decision is reached to work out the Obama’s strategy  leading to continuous threats for capturing Osama bin Laden alive, even  after knowing that he was dead. While in Pakistan intelligence community  starts using all of its sources to reach to the bottom of US’ demand of  capturing Osama bin Laden. On April 28 President Obama signs General  Petraeus’ transfer to CIA and next day signs the orders to attack the  Abbottabad compounds. Thus Osama bin Laden’s credit is assured to  President Obama.

On 29  April after President Obama signed the orders to “bring back” Osama bin  Laden,Pakistani security agencies get a report that another order had been  signed which had authorized US forces to neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear  assets, if needed. The report was nothing short of seeing a death angel  for the top Pak Military brass. Seeing  the imminent threat, General Kayani tried his last shot when on 30 April  2011 he clearly stated in his Youm-e-Shuhada address: “Pakistan is a  peace-loving country and wants friendly relations with other countries and  our every step should move towards prosperity of the people. But we will  not compromise our dignity and honour for it”. However,  it didn’t stop what was about to come 24 hours later.

As night  fell on Sunday, 1st  May  four choppers from a US Afghan base at a low altitude towards its  destination in Abbottabad, to the same compound where Osama’s children  were in the hiding. Without any detection courtesy of their latest stealth  technology and Pakistan’s outdated technology the choppers continued over  the Pakistani territory. Ironically,  ten years ago a Pak Air force air commodore had raised concern about the  outdated radar technology citing that US or worse India could fly  helicopters into the country and take out nuclear installations and in  reply he was shown the boot while no upgrades to the systems were  made.

Anyway,  the four choppers made it to the compound in Abbottabad. It is then  that PakArmy was notified that they have a choice. Either face an  entire barrage of US choppers attacking Pak nuclear assets or hand over  Osama’s body. In the meanwhile the small gun  battle at the Abbottabad compound continued and to give the drama some  authenticity the US forces torched one of their own choppers.   Pressed for time a Pakistani helicopter flew from Tarbela carrying dead  body of Osama bin Laden which was stored in a cold storage there. While at  Abbottabad Pak Army soldiers encircle the entire area around the compound  within five minutes of the start of fire fight. The firefight continued  for 35 more minutes, waiting for the Pakistani helicopter. Once the  Pakistani helicopter reached the compound the three US choppers and the  Pakistani helicopter flew towards the Afghan border, this time without the  need to fly below the radar detection altitude.

Next day,  the world woke up to the news that Osama bin Laden was dead and President  Obama had delivered what President Bush and Dick Cheney couldn’t. But the  Pak Military brass did not wake up, because they never slept the night  before. Last night they had woken to the realization that US could fly under the radar  and take out Pakistan’s nuclear assets at any  time.


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