(WASHINGTON) — If Pakistani officials knew Osama bin Laden was living peacefully in the country, said Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, they would have done something.
“If any member of the Pakistani government, the Pakistani military or the Pakistani intelligence service knew where Osama bin Laden was, we would have taken action,” Haqqani told ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour. “Osama bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan was not to Pakistan’s advantage.”
The strength of Pakistan’s intelligence service and its cooperation with the United States have been questioned since the killing of Bin Laden nearly one week ago. U.S. forces killed the al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a military town about an hour’s drive north of Islamabad, the capital. Bin Laden’s compound was less than a mile away from an elite Pakistani military academy.
Pakistan is pursuing an investigation to understand how the al Qaeda leader could have been hiding right under the military’s nose. It is premature to reveal the details of the investigation, said Haqqani. Punishment, if warranted, will be delivered, he added.
“Heads will roll once the investigation has been completed,” Haqqani said. “Now if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you, and if, God forbid, somebody’s complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that as well.”
White House national security advisor Tom Donilon told Amanpour that Pakistan has in its custody all the non-combatants of the Abbottabad compound, including three of Bin Laden’s wives. Pakistani officials also took additional material from the compound.
Pakistani officials have interviewed at least one of Bin Laden’s wives.
“We understand that one of the wives never left the same floor as Osama bin Laden because they were paranoid of physical movement, they didn’t go to windows, they didn’t have any fresh air,” the Pakistani ambassador revealed.
As to whether Pakistan will grant the United States access to the wives and the material in Pakistan’s position, Haqqani stuck to a diplomatic script.
“What we do, Mr. Donilon will know,” Haqqani said.
(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government, on Saturday, released five videos found in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, showing the al Qaeda leader preparing a message to the United States and watching himself on television.
The first was a previously unreleased message from bin Laden directed to the United States that was believed to have been filmed between Oct. 9 and Nov. 5 2010. In the video he appears to have dyed his beard black.
The second video, which runs over a minute long, shows bin Laden watching himself on television and holding the remote control to change the channel. It is unclear when this video was made and whether bin Laden was watching a live broadcast or a tape.
The remaining three videos appear to be practice sessions, possibly for the first video.
This footage is among the trove of evidence found after the United States raid on the compound Sunday, when bin Laden and four others were killed.
“This is the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever,” a senior intelligence official said.
The cache includes digital, audio, video and personal correspondence and documents.
The materials found “clearly show that bin Laden remained an active leader in al Qaeda strategically, tactically and operationally,” and not the figurehead he was assumed to be, “making the recent operation even more essential to our nation’s security,” the official said.
He was plotting and conspiring terrorism focused on the U.S., the official said.
The DNA analysis shows unquestionably that the body of the person killed in Sunday’s raid was that of bin Laden, the senior intelligence official said. The odds of the body not being bin Laden’s stand at 1 in 11.8 quadrillion, he said.
The cache of electronic and handwritten materials obtained by the SEALs includes numerous hallmark al Qaeda plots including attacks on infrastructure targets such as water supply and transportation including rail and air, in what one official described as a “strategic guide for how to attack the U.S.”
It is unclear just how active bin Laden was in coordinating any operations or in blessing overall strategies and plots. One official said bin Laden appears to have thought of himself as something of a head coach to al Qaeda.
(WASHINGTON) — Since the death of Osama bin Laden Sunday, administration officials have repeatedly said that the mission to kill him complied with domestic and international law.
“Let me make something very clear,” Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Wednesday, “the operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed was lawful. He was the head of al Qaeda, an organization that conducted the attacks of Sept. 11. He admitted his involvement.”
But as new details of the operation emerge, and some Pakistani leaders protest the U.S. incursion into their state, legal experts say the administration must more forcefully lay out its case.
Law professor Kenneth Anderson, who specializes in legal issues related to war and terrorism, said that differing government accounts as to whether bin Laden was armed or invited to surrender or even involved in a firefight have muddled the legal debate and left the administration open to international criticism.
“Holder was not direct in stating that of course it was legal to target Osama bin Laden, legal to target with lethal force, legal to target without warning or invitation to surrender,” said Anderson, who teaches at American University Washington College of Law. “And that has always been the U.S. legal position.”
“The United States actually has firm legal views on these points, which unfortunately, probably for reasons of operational secrecy, the senior leadership hasn’t properly communicated,” Anderson added.
To justify the use of force, the Obama administration relied on the Authorization to Use Military Force Act of Sept. 18, 2001, which allows the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against persons who authorized, planned or committed the 9/11 attacks, as well as international law derived from treaties and customary laws of war.
The Obama and Bush administrations have argued that the use of force is allowed under international law because of the continuing conflict with al Qaeda, and the need to protect the United States from additional attacks.