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(NEW YORK) — Pakistan is denying U.S. investigators access to Osama bin Laden’s compound and the wives who lived there with him, a rebuke to the U.S. that is escalating tensions between the two allies in the wake of the raid that killed the al Qaeda leader.
Pakistan’s prime minister on Monday spoke publicly for the first time since the operation about the raid and rejected accusations that Pakistani officials aided bin Laden, who had been hiding in Pakistan for several years.
In a speech to the parliament, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani denied that officials were incompetent in searching for bin Laden or complicit in hiding him, a suggestion CIA chief Leon Panetta repeatedly made to lawmakers last week.
Gilani added that Pakistani officials will investigate why bin Laden went undetected while hiding virtually in plain sight in a military town, and criticized the United States for not sharing information of the mission beforehand.
Gaining access to bin Laden’s compounds and his wives are among the United States’ key demands to Pakistan and officials say the denial is another disappointment from Pakistan.
Pakistanis have in custody three of bin Laden’s wives, eight of his children and five other children, according to a senior Pakistani military official.
The CIA is pouring through the trove of information seized at bin Laden’s compound, which is enough information to fill the library of a small college, officials say. Among the mysteries they are hoping to uncover is what the Pakistani government knew and did not know.
(NEW YORK) — One of the reasons that al Qaeda has not yet named a replacement for Osama bin Laden is because there’s possible confusion within the ranks as to who was actually second-in-command during the slain leader’s long tenure.
It was reported in The Wall Street Journal that the person assumed to be bin Laden’s top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, actually “parted ways” with his boss six years ago.
According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official quoted by the newspaper, al-Zawahiri was “marginalized” and lost popularity because he didn’t have the funds to continue helping underwrite al Qaeda operations.
However, the The Wall Street Journal also cites U.S. officials as questioning any rift between al-Zawahiri, the group’s chief ideologue and operational commander, and bin Laden.
The 59-year-old is still believed to be the logical choice to run al Qaeda, which indeed may have cash-flow problems, U.S. counterterrorism officials told the Journal.