Intel committee chairman says Pakistan ISI aided bin Laden
Elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service assisted Osama bin Laden before he was killed during the recent U.S. raid on his Abbottobad hideout, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee said June 14.
“I believe that there are elements of both the military and intelligence ser vice who in some way, both pr ior and maybe even current, provided some level of assistance to Osama bin Laden,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who recently returned from a visit to Pakistan.
Senior Obama administration officials have said they are investigating bin Laden’s support network in Pakistan and whether there was official government support. U.S. officials also have said there were no signs that senior Pakistani government officials knew about bin Laden’s compound.
The comments go beyond what Mr. Rogers said previ- ously. Last month he told CNN that Pakistani military element may have supported bin Laden.
Mr. Rogers, who met in Pakistan with Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of ISI, and Gen. Ashfaq Par vez Kayani, the chief of Pakistan’s military, said he knew of no evidence that implicated the political and military leadership of Pakistan in harboring the al Qaeda leader at a compound located within yards of a prestigious Pakistani military academy.
He said however that recent news reports indicating insurgents were tipped off in advance to a military raid on a site used for building roadside bombs suggested Pakistan’s military and ISI are were compromised.
“I do believe, I think the recent news report on the compounds highlights, there is some level of sympathizers within the ISI, within the local police departments, within the way they would handle that piece of information [. . . ] there are certainly sympathizers and I think you can extrapolate that on a proactive side to the fact that Osama bin Laden was in Abbottobad for nearly five years.”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told Associated Press that the United States was disappointed and suspicious about a tipoff, but does not believe Pakistani officials disclosed information about the raid to the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani insurgents.
“We don’t know the specifics of what happened,” Mr. Gates said on June 13. “There are suspicions and there are questions, but I think there was clearly disappointment on our part.”
Mr. Rogers said Pakistan has yet to make a decision after the U.S. raid against bin Laden to redouble the country’s efforts to fight terrorism. He said that U.S. Embassy operations were being hindered by Pakistan’s military in some cases. He also said the country needed to be more transparent and allow U.S. intelligence officials access to detainees.
“Now is the time to put more pressure on Pakistan to do the right thing,” he said.
Mr. Rogers said he considered Pakistan to be a “military with a country,” not a country with a military. For now, the militar y has not chosen to strengthen its alliance with the United States against al Qaeda and the Taliban following the raid on bin Laden’s compound.
“They could have said ‘we are going to redouble our efforts with the United States, we are going to fight extremism, we are going to fight terrorism, we are going to join with you as partners to try to remove the extremist and dangerous elements in Pakistan that we know have targeted the United States in the past,’ “ he said.
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence