The Washington Post reports that the U.S.is seeking to use the killing of Osama bin Laden
to accelerate a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and hasten the end of the Afghanistan
war, according to U.S. officials involved in war policy.
Administration officials believe it now could be easier for the reclusive leader of the largest Taliban faction, Mohammad Omar, to break his group’s alliance with al-Qaida, a key U.S. requirement for any peace deal.
They also think bin Laden’s death could make peace talks a more palatable outcome for Americans and insulate President Obama from criticism that his administration would be negotiating with terrorists.
“Bin Laden’s death is the beginning of the end game in Afghanistan,” said a senior administration official who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy
deliberations. “It changes everything.”
All Americans hope the above is true. We sincerely want that decade-old war to end and for our soldiers and sailors to come home–and maybe some of them can defend our southern borders.
There are a lot of questions leading to conspiracy theories that maybe this wasn’t as successful as the Obama Administration is saying:
1) How in the world did we pull it off? Are we really that good and the Pakistani’s intelligence and defenses that bad? How do we know this is not just a look-alike bin Ladin? Many people thought bin Ladin died of a kidney problem years ago. His death makes a great story of heroism of our military, but the timing is suspect–Obama’s numbers are down and he gets a bump for his “gutsy decision–and the fact Obama is taking all the credit for this based on his decision to go in with boots on the ground rather than bombing the heck out of the compound. How they put the intelligence together was partly based on water boarding by the CIA which yielded much information that helped pinpoint where Osama was living. Democrats won’t fess up to this because they have stopped water boarding or rendering. Now what, next time we need some important intel?
2) The killing of Osama bin laden deep inside Pakistan almost in plain sight in a medium-sized city that hosts numerous Pakistani forces seems preposterous on the face. Importantly, it will inflame tensions between the United States and Pakistan and raise significant questions about whether elements of the Pakistani spy agency knew the whereabouts of the leader of Al Qaeda.
3) We pay Pakistan $3.4 Billion a year for their “friendship.” What a high price to pay for treachery. The reason Obama agreed to go in their before dawn without telling Pakistan is that we don’t trust those people. They knew, or had to know, that bin Ladin was holed up there for five years.
4) Why did CIA Director Leon Panetta make so many mistakes in the details of the operation? He would say one thing–such as bin Ladin’s 29-year-old wife used herself (or he used her) as a human shield to help him avoid death. Finally, that story didn’t wash. Now he’s saying that didn’t happen at all. Did it or didn’t it?
5) Why only two helcopters? One was flown into the compound wall and they had to destroy it before leaving. But it meant they couldn’t bring back prisoners who would corroberate the official U.S. military story? In leaving they only had one copter, so they brought back our special op people and two dead bodies.
6) Why did they dump the body so quickly in the ocean? It was gone within 24 hours.
7) Why not show the pictures of the dead Osama bin Ladin? So what if it inflames the al Qaeda? Do you think the 3,000 victims of 9/11 weren’t inflamed with the pictures that were taken at ground zero for months and months?
Reminders of the deaths or injury of their loved ones?
All of these and more questions should be answered by the American president. And to hold onto the death pictures only further exacerbates the issue as far as believability is concerned.
Another senior official involved in Afghanistan policy President Obama has claimed victory over Osama Bin Ladin, confirming that Navy Seals flew two copters into his compound Osama bin Laden‘s 12-year-old daughter watched as her father was shot dead by American special forces, a senior Pakistani intelligence official has told the Guardian.
The girl, who was found at the scene of the raid by Pakistani security services, is being cared for at a military hospital having been wounded in the attack. She has been questioned about the sequence of events during the raid last weekend.
The official said Pakistani intelligence services, who are holding 11 other survivors of the deadly raid on Bin Laden’s Pakistani hiding place, would not allow their interrogation by US officials.
“That would occur only if there was written assent from their country of origin. We are yet to receive any request to my knowledge, but given the [critical] statements coming out of Washington and the fact that [the raid] was not an operation we were involved in, we would not accept,” he said.
At least 10 people were left alive at the end of the attack, which saw Bin Laden killed in an upstairs room of the three-storey house where he had been living. Hamza, one of the al-Qaida leader’s sons, was killed. His body was removed with that of his father by the assault teams. All in all, this was a comparatively benign operation by America, with collateral damage kept to a minimum.
It is not expected that any retaliation by the al Qaeda will be so limited in scope, however. The al Qaeda has long memories of how U.S. military from time to time have killed not only military combatants but uninvolved people who were in the zone of danger. This is seen as something impossible to limit when it becomes a war of dropping bombs, however.
The survivors include eight children and two adults, both women. One is Bin Laden’s fifth wife, a 29-year-old Yemeni, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah who married the al-Qaida leader around 11 years ago in Afghanistan. The other is understood to be a Yemeni doctor in her 30s whose passport indicates that she arrived by legal means in the region sometime between 2000 and 2006, when the document expired.
The Pakistani official, from the main intelligence agency the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), said that verification of the exact identity of the woman was continuing.
“We are not sure if she is a doctor, a nurse, a maid or what,” he said.
The White House has so far not commented on the survivors or on reports that a second son of Bin Laden was captured during the raid.
Though mobile phones and computers seized in the compound are currently being examined by American specialists for any possible leads on forthcoming attacks or information on current fugitives, the women and children in Pakistani custody are potential sources of valuable intelligence.
On Tuesday, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that “the family members of Osama bin Laden [are] all in safe hands … in the best possible facilities,” and that “as per policy” the relatives would be handed over to their countries of origin.
This, however, may not be easy. One problem is their unclear legal status. The Saudi Arabian citizenship of the al-Qaida leader was withdrawn in 1994 following his violent criticism of the kingdom’s royal family leaving the exact nationality of his children unclear. Two young sons of Bin Laden are believed to be among the survivors held by the Pakistanis.
It is also far from certain that either Yemen or Saudi Arabia would be willing to accept the repatriation of Bin Laden’s family members or their friends. Nor is their identification a simple task. Some of the children found at the compound may be those of the two brothers killed in the raid, and may have Pakistani nationality. The youngest child found at the compound is two.
Local authorities arrived on the scene of the raid as American special forces were leaving. It is believed that the attackers originally planned to evacuate all those in the compound but the breakdown of a helicopter meant there was no space to take them.
Instead, only the bodies of Bin Laden and his son Hamza, who was in his early 20s, were taken to the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson and buried at sea. Survivors were left with their hands fastened with plastic handcuffs, a second Pakistani official said, adding that initial communications with the survivors had been difficult as the Pakistani police and military arriving at the scene did not speak Arabic.
Four bodies are understood to have been recovered by Pakistani officials from the compound, including those of two brothers who have been reported to be behind the construction and management of the house. One is believed to be the crucial courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who inadvertently led the CIA to Bin Laden. A third body was that of one of the brother’s wives. The other casualty is believed to be a guard who has yet to be identified or possibly a domestic servant.
Several of the survivors, including Bin Laden’s wife, were injured in the 40-minute firefight that preceded the al-Qaida leader’s death.
The White House have confirmed that Bin Laden’s wife received a bullet wound in the calf during the assault.
Pakistani officials told the Guardian yesterday that Bin Laden’s daughter, which various reports named as Safina, Safia or Ayesha yesterday, had been hit in the ankle in the moments before the American assault team reached the room where they found her father, and later passed out. The wound was possibly caused by fragments from a grenade thrown by the assault team as they attacked, one said.
The girl and her mother are believed to be at a high-security military hospital.
American press reports cited a US official saying Fatah had told Pakistani authorities that Bin Laden had lived in the complex, at least part of the time, since it was built in 2005. Yesterday, other reports fromPakistan
contradicted that statement, saying survivors had told officials they had arrived five or six months ago.
White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed earlier this week that she was “in the room with Bin Laden” when injured.
John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, had initially claimed Fatah was killed while “she was being used as a shield”, but the White House later said that account was inaccurate.
US intelligence officials have also said Fatah, rather than Bin Laden’s daughter, identified the al-Qaida leader’s body.
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