'Pakistani intel. likely aware of Bin Laden's hideout'

Terrorism analyst Boaz Ganor says despite some cooperation between US and ISI, intelligence officials "didn't hand over the head of the snake."

ABC bin laden house FOR GALLERY 465 2 (photo credit: REUTERS)
ABC bin laden house FOR GALLERY 465 2
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Suspicions that members of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency were aware of the hiding place of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, 50 km. north of Islamabad, are “well founded,” senior Israeli terrorism analyst Dr. Boaz Ganor told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
“The fact that they found him in a compound in a Pakistani city – rather than a cave in Tora Bora – and the fact that he was not moving from place to place on a nightly basis, but lived in the compound for years, certainly raises the possibility in my view that members of the Pakistani intelligence and defense community were aware of his location,” Ganor said.
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Bin Laden’s compound was located near a major Pakistani military center, reportedly housing thousands of soldiers.
Yet an ISI official was quoted by the BBC on Tuesday as saying that the compound “was not our radar” – adding that the failure to apprehend bin Laden “should not make us look totally incompetent.”
“We’re good, but we’re not God,” the BBC quoted the official as saying.
“If the ISI didn’t know as an organization, then senior members of the ISI likely did,” said Ganor, who is executive director of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism, part of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
“This doesn’t come as a big surprise. The fact that the ISI has been infiltrated by the Taliban and al-Qaida sympathizers is well known. So is the fact that the ISI has been involved in terrorist activity carried out by the [Pakistani jihadi group] Lashkar e-Taiba in Kashmir,” Ganor added.
The ISI has been linked to the coordinated terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008, in which killed 164 people were killed and more than 308 were wounded.
Ganor said he believed “the Americans were not shocked either. I assume they received some information from the Pakistanis, but never relied on it for their own intelligence.”
Despite some cooperation between the US and Pakistan, senior Pakistani intelligence officials “didn’t hand over the head of the snake,” he said.
But that did not spell the end of American-Pakistani relations.
“The American interest is to prevent Pakistan – a country with a nuclear arsenal – from falling into the hands of Islamists. Their interest is therefore to maintain the status quo. It’s not ideal, but the alternative is worse,” Ganor said.