Pakistan arrests CIA's bin Laden informants

'The New York Times' reports that five informants who provided crucial intel for locating al-Qaida leader are taken into custody.

By REUTERS
June 15, 2011 09:14
2 minute read.
Leon Panetta

Panetta 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - Pakistan's top military spy agency has arrested five CIA informants who fed information to the US spy agency before the raid last month which killed Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

One of the detainees was reported to be a Pakistani Army major whom officials said copied license plates of cars visiting the al-Qaida leader's compound 30 miles northwest of Islamabad.

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The fate of the CIA informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, the newspaper reported, citing American officials.

Outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta raised the issue of the informants' detention during a trip to Islamabad last week where he met with with Pakistani military and intelligence officers, the newspaper said.

Some in Washington see the arrest as another sign of the deep disconnect between US and Pakistani priorities in the fight against extremists, the Times reported.

The United States kept Islamabad in the dark about the May 2 raid by Navy SEALs until after it was completed, humiliating Pakistan's armed forces and putting US military and intelligence ties under serious strain.

Last week, at a closed Senate Intelligence Committee briefing, Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell rated Pakistan's cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations a "three" on a scale of 1 to 10, the Times reported, citing officials familiar with the exchange.

Other officials cautioned that his comments did not represent the administration's overall assessment, the newspaper said. "We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise," CIA spokesman Marie Harf told the newspaper.

"Director Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It's a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs."

Asked about the Times report, a CIA spokeswoman neither confirmed nor denied it and said she had no further comment.

Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, was quoted as saying that the CIA. and the Pakistani spy agency "are working out mutually agreeable terms for their cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage."


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