Saturday, May 7, 2011

The al-Qa'ida leader knew he was a failure. Now US has turned him into martyr : Robert Fisk

Bin Laden got his just deserts – those who live by the sword tend to die by the sword – but did he get the "justice" that President Obama talked about? Many Arabs – and this theme was taken up by the Arab press, which spoke of his "execution" – thought he should have been captured, taken to the international court in The Hague and tried.
Of course there will always be those who do and will believe he was a brave martyr ignominiously murdered by the proxy arm of "Zionism". Islamist groups in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and many ulema in south-west Asia have said as much already. In reality, needless to say, he was a has-been. His promises of overthrowing the pro-American or non-Islamic Arab dictators were fulfilled by the people of Egypt and Tunisia – and perhaps soon by Libyans and Syrians – not by al-Qa'ida and its violence.
The real problem, however, is that the West, which has constantly preached to the Arab world that legality and non-violence was the way forward in the Middle East, has taught a different lesson to the people of the region: that executing your opponents is perfectly acceptable. 

One may say that after thousands of innocent lives taken so bloodily, Bin Laden could expect to be killed, unarmed, in a presumed safe house. Muslims, on the other hand, will conclude that the Americans adopted the very same methods the Israelis use on their Palestinian enemies.
"Targeted killing", the Israelis call it when they fire missiles or release bombs on their enemies, often killing the innocent as well as the guilty – just as the Americans often do in their drone attacks against al-Qa'ida and the Taliban in Waziristan.
Despite the American desire to prevent the creation of a shrine – which led to Bin Laden's secret burial in the Arabian Sea – Bin Laden, as a Salafist and a Saudi, would have wished to have an unmarked grave. He and his supporters believe grave markers are idolatrous; hence the Saudi desire to bury their dead unmarked and to destroy ancient shrines rather than to create them.
But in the end, his unarmed death has turned him into a greater martyr than if he had been killed in the "firefight" that Obama originally claimed – quite wrongly – had caused his death. All in all, the man who regarded his own achievement as the creation of al-Qa'ida lived just long enough to realise it had totally failed in its objectives.
And having met the man and talked to him for many hours, I sometimes wonder now if he wanted to go on living.

If this is a US victory, does that mean its forces should go home now?

So why are we in Afghanistan? Didn't the Americans and the British go there in 2001 to fight Osama bin Laden? Wasn't he killed on Monday? There was painful symbolism in the Nato airstrike yesterday – scarcely 24 hours after Bin Laden's death – that killed yet more Afghan security guards. For the truth is that we long ago lost the plot in the graveyard of empires, turning a hunt for a now largely irrelevant inventor of global jihad into a war against tens of thousands of Taliban insurgents who have little interest in al-Qa'ida, but much enthusiasm to drive Western armies out of their country.
The gentle hopes of Hamid Karzai and Hillary Clinton – that the Taliban will be so cowed by the killing of Bin Laden that they will want to become pleasant democrats and humbly join the Western-supported and utterly corrupt leadership of Afghanistan – shows just how out of touch they are with the blood-soaked reality of the country. Some of the Taliban admired Bin Laden, but they did not love him and he had been no part of their campaign against Nato. Mullah Omar is more dangerous to the West in Afghanistan than Bin Laden. And we haven't killed Omar.
Iran, for once, spoke for millions of Arabs in its response to Bin Laden's death. "An excuse for alien countries to deploy troops in this region under the pretext of fighting terrorism has been eliminated," its foreign ministry spokesman has said. "We hope this development will end war, conflict, unrest and the death of innocent people, and help to establish peace and tranquility in the region." 

Newspapers across the Arab world said the same thing. If this is such a great victory for the United States, it's time to go home; which, of course, the US has no intention of doing just now.
That many Americans think the same thing is not going to change the topsy-turvy world in which US policy is framed. For there is one home truth which the world still has not grasped: that the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt – and, more pressing, the bloodbaths in Libya and Syria and the dangers to Lebanon – are of infinitely graver importance than blowing away a bearded man who has been elevated in the West's immature imagination into Hitlerian proportions.
Turkish prime minister Erdogan's brilliant address in Istanbul yesterday – calling for the Syrians to stop killing their people and for Gaddafi to leave Libya – was more eloquent, more powerful and more historic than the petty, boastful, Hollywood speeches of Obama and Clinton on Monday. We are now wasting our time speculating who will "take over" al-Qa'ida – Zawahiri or Saif al-Adel – when the movement has no "leadership" as such, Bin Laden being the founder rather than the boss.
But, a day being a long time in the killing fields of the Middle East, just 24 hours after Osama Bin Laden died, other questions were growing thicker yesterday. If, for example, Barack Obama really thinks the world is "a safer place" after Bin Laden's death, how come the US has increased its threat alert and embassies around the world are being told to take extra precautions against attack?
And just what did happen in that tatty compound – no longer, it seems, a million-dollar "mansion" – when Bin Laden's sulphurous life was brought to an end? Human Rights Watch is unlikely to be the only institution to demand a "thorough, transparent investigation" into the killing.
There was an initial story from Pentagon "sources" which had two of Bin Laden's wives killed and a woman held as a "human shield" dying too. Within hours, the wives were alive and in some accounts, the third woman simply disappeared.
And then of course, there's Pakistan, eagerly telling the world that it participated in the attack on Bin Laden, only to have President Zardari retract the entire story yesterday. Two hours later, we had an American official describing the attack on Bin Laden as a "shared achievement".
And there's Bin Laden's secret burial in the Arabian Sea. Was this planned before the attack on Bin Laden, with the clear plan to kill rather than capture him? And if it was carried out "according to Islamic rights" – the dead man's body washed and placed in a white shroud – it must have taken a long time for the officer on the USS Carl Vinson to devise a 50-minute religious ceremony and arrange for an Arabic-speaking sailor to translate it.
So now for a reality check. The world is not safer for Bin Laden's killing. It is safer because of the winds of freedom blowing through the Middle East. If the West treats the people of this region with justice rather than military firepower, then al-Qa'ida becomes even more irrelevant than it has been since the Arab revolutions.
Of course, there is one positive side for the Arab world. With Bin Laden killed, the Gaddafis and the Salehs and the Assads will find it all the more difficult to claim that a man who is now dead is behind the popular revolutions trying to overthrow them.

Pakistan Army Ridiculed After Bin Laden Raid

A text message doing the rounds in Pakistan reads: "For Sale: Obsolete Pakistan army radar; can't detect US 'copters but can receive Star Plus; only 999 rupees." Star Plus is a popular television channel from India. Another message says: "What a country! Even Osama is not safe here." These messages are a reflection of the growing frustration among Pakistanis over Monday's raid in which a team of US Navy Seals flew by helicopter from Afghanistan to a compound in the northern town of Abbottabad, killed Osama Bin Laden and then whisked away his body. For the first time in decades, the powerful Pakistani military establishment has failed to find an excuse to pin the blame on the " bloody civilians" who now control political power. The army is not only suspected of having sheltered Bin Laden, it is also under fire for having failed to detect the raid. So while few people in Pakistan are really in love with the civilian government, everybody knows that this time an explanation must come from the military. Media 'complicity' The military took three days to issue a response, and the most prominent part of its statement from the Pakistani point of view is the admission that it did not know about the raid. There are few takers for its contention that it also did not know about Bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad. The raid, and the army's admission, have given rise to a flurry of questions. "Why do we spend more than $6 bn (£3.65 bn) annually on the army when it can't do its job," says Mohammad Ruum, a resident of Swat. Mr Ruum's view reflects comments normally not heard on Pakistani television channels. Pakistani media, though extremely critical of the civilian government, have traditionally steered clear of controversies surrounding the powerful security establishment. Many even blame them of complicity with the military to destabilise the country's nascent democracy. The military's role was first questioned in March in the aftermath of the release of Raymond Davis. A CIA contractor, Mr Davis was acquitted by a Pakistani court after paying blood money to the relatives of two men he had killed in the city of Lahore. While the civilian government made a few meek noises that Mr Davis enjoyed diplomatic immunity, the general impression was that his continued detention was due to the army's intervention. To many, his release came as a shock, and as evidence that even the military had bowed to American wishes. Bin Laden's death has put the icing on the cake. I spoke to a number of people to find out who they blamed for the security lapse on Monday, and why. One ex-army officer in Islamabad said the fault lay with the civilian authorities. "They are the ones who issue orders; the army only obeys. They are the ones who were caught sleeping," he said. Military-militant link? Others, while equally disillusioned with the civilian government, said detecting the raid and countering it was the military's job. "This is what they are paid for, to defend the borders, not to run bakeries and banks and real-estate empires," says Nasir Khan, a resident of the north-western town of Nowshera. Many people in Pakistan suspect a link between the military and the Islamist militant groups operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those who live in areas overrun by Taliban militants over the last few years are sure there is such a link, though they may not have a tangible proof. "In Swat, there was a time when we saw the army and the Taliban running their respective checkpoints literally yards away from each other," says Abdur Rab, a resident of Mingora. "People used to say, where there is army, there would be Taliban." In the north-western tribal region, people have seen Taliban militants setting up bases close to military installations. In 2005 , when I was working for a local monthly magazine, Herald, we sent a reporter from Peshawar to cover a drone strike on a militant training camp in North Waziristan - a rare occurrence back then. He came back with a picture that showed the destroyed camp at the foot of a small hill. At the top of the hill was an outpost of the paramilitary Frontier Corps. Humiliation Last year, local people in the Kurram tribal region led me to the remains of the Taliban's main command-and-control centre at a village called Bugzai, which tribesmen had overrun and destroyed. For years prior to its destruction, Bugzai served as the permanent base of militant leader, Hakimullah Mehsud. It was from there that he ordered the continuing blockade of the main Kurram road. Bugzai was barely 1 km (0.62 miles) down the hill from the main Frontier Corps base, inside a British-era fort, which was responsible for security in the lower Kurram valley. Few of these people are surprised that Bin Laden was found in a military cantonment, not far from Pakistan's top military academy, in Abbottabad. These feelings are now gaining currency in other segments of the population, who are equally shocked that the Americans had found Bin Laden right under the nose of the military and defied Pakistan's seemingly impregnable defences to whisk him away. There is no sense of loss or bereavement - few among the teeming Pakistani masses loved Bin Laden. The feeling is one of humiliation. Most people dislike the US, and they feel their own army has let them down.

The War Without End?

Bin Laden changed the world. His will, his hatred-driven actions dramatically altered the foreign policy of the world' s only superpower for a decade. The question remains if his death allows new endings. There's the " war on terror ". The term was decisively rejected by Obama, and the British governments following Blair. But it is worth thinking about. Critics sneered there could be no war on an abstract noun. A real " war on terror" would have been an interesting, bold and perhaps foolhardy reaction to the attack on America. A declaration that FDR was right - that there was nothing to fear but fear itself - that a great people should not cower before a single act however dreadful, that the statistical improbability of being killed by extremists was still very high, could have robbed the terrorists of the reason behind their act, at the price of complacency that could allow further such attacks. The more grammatically accurate " war on terrorism" was what was in fact adopted . It allowed an umbrella approach to America's enemies and drew a connecting line between their ill will to merge them into an axis of evil . It allowed the Russians and Chinese to identify those in violent opposition to their rule as part of the same problem. It conflated a metaphor for an overwhelming national focus of intention and resources on combating a problem, like a war on drugs or a war on poverty, with an actual war involving, killing, invading and holding territory by military means. By doing so it increased America's sense of vulnerability and made it even feel, against all the objective facts, like a nation under siege, in real threat of being overwhelmed and extinguished. Some claimed this was a power grab, that gave the government the authority to do exactly what it pleased. While the strong military response was not what the terrorists wanted, it did inflate their self importance and converted them from criminals into one side in a war. But, whether you call it a war or not, it is clear modern governments have to remain vigilant against terrorism. Terrorism is a product of technology and to a much lesser extent mass communications. Rise of 'terrorism' There has always been asymmetrical warfare. A grouped of armoured knights raging through a village of peasants with only pitch forks and a rusty axe is pretty one sided. It is only when explosives allowed villagers to creep into the soldiers camp and blow them to kingdom come that you get something like terrorism. In fact it is only when explosives became so light and powerful that easily concealable and transportable amounts could deal large scale death that you got terrorism. I like to be pretty precise about such definitions. To me terrorism is the use of violence against a civilian population, by a group that is not acting on behalf of a state, in an attempt to instil such fear that a government is forced to change its policies. This is not perfect. It excludes attacks on purely military targets. It excludes acts sponsored by a state. It excludes bombing raids on cities during a war, intended to make the enemy surrender, purely on the grounds a state is doing it. It seems to exclude acts of wanton nihilism. Still it is better than nothing. By this definition terrorism is not going to end with the death of one man. Al-Qaeda is unusual in that it is driven by a global ideology rather than territorial ambitions. Most terrorist groups have been trying to get rid of those who they believe are occupying soil that is rightfully theirs. Bush and Blair were probably right to worry that technological advances, such and nuclear and biological weapons, and the existence of groups willing to use them, raised the threat of terrorism to a whole new level. Given that regional and ideological conflicts and further advanced ways of killing lots of people are not going to change, that war will never be over. So perhaps it is best not to call it a war at all. We after all should be vigilant about asteroid strikes and deadly viruses as well. Labelling terror The professorial president likes precision, and he changed the name of what America was doing to the war on al-Qaeda. Clinton and others have been careful to say the war is not over . But wars on organisations, like wars on countries can be won. But victory may be just as hard to define. The jargonish aim is to " degrade" al-Qaeda to such a point that it is no significant risk. It has struck me forcefully that there have been very few demonstrations about Bin Laden's death. That does not mean his supporters will not plot terrible revenge. But it does suggest that this leader of a supposedly global movement that wants to inspire people from Bradford to Bangladesh, did not have such a big fan base. Certainly the protests we have seen were nothing like the recent reaction to the Koran burning, or, some years ago, to the Danish cartoons. Of course, the new threat seems to be individuals acting alone, inspired by Bin Laden's ideology, but not part of even a loose organization. People have been arguing for years that the Base (what Al Qaeda means) was a database, a network, way of putting like-minded people in touch with each other, rather than an army. Those who know more than me say Bin Laden's death is a second blow , after AQ's impotence in the Arab Spring. I suspect Jihadism, the reaction against the West's dominance, a most postmodern revulsion at modernism, will not go away. It may fade for a while and resurface in another guise, with another name, or under new leaders under a old banner. This could take a couple of months. It could take a couple of generations. Obama's war against al-Qaeda is not won. There could be terrible reverses: a handful of people can do awful damage. But Bin Laden's death probably marks a pause. America is a more martial society since 9 /11 , with a huge respect for its armed services but weary of war, metaphorical or actual. Drones and special forces are, in any case, the weapons of this war. That old liberal bumper sticker: " Support our troops: Bring them home" has a new relevance. Concealable bombs have been used by terrorist organisations in suicide attacks around the globe President Obama still faces many challenges on the war on terrorism

The War In The Heart Of India

New Delhi is India’s political capital; Bangalore the center of its showpiece software industry. If you travel from New Delhi to Bangalore and back, you fly over the poorest districts of the country, where, for the past decade, a bloody war has raged between Maoist revolutionaries and the Indian state. The conflict is invisible to the business traveler, and to the rising Indian middle class. Beneficiaries of an economic boom that is concentrated in the south and the west of India, this middle class has no reason to take notice of a conflict in districts they never visit and to which they have no necessary connection. Every so often, though, the war in the heart of India forces itself on the national consciousness. In April 2010 the Maoists ambushed a platoon of the Central Reserve police, killing 75. The jihadis in Kashmir occasionally shot dead one or two policemen, but never before, in the history of independent India, had so many men in uniform died simultaneously at the hands of insurgents. TV anchors in Delhi called upon the government to order airstrikes in retaliation. A year later, the civil war is in the news again, owing to the journeys in and out of jail of a doctor named Binayak Sen. A gold medalist from the prestigious Christian Medical College in Vellore, Sen has been working for the past two decades among tribals in the state of Chhattisgarh. In May 2007 Sen was arrested on the charge of aiding the Maoists. The evidence against him was scandalously flimsy. It consisted of some pamphlets the police found in his house and of visits he had made, in his twin capacity as a doctor and human-rights activist, to Maoists in jail. Sen’s incarceration provoked widespread protests in India and abroad. Amnesty International adopted him as a “prisoner of conscience”; 22 Nobel laureates signed a letter demanding his release. Two years later, when Sen’s case had not yet come to trial, the Supreme Court finally granted him bail. In December 2010 a court in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh, found Sen guilty of “sedition” and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The severity of the judgment—and the scantiness of the evidence presented by the prosecutor—prompted a fresh wave of protests by intellectuals and human-rights organizations. On April 15 this year, the Supreme Court granted Sen bail again, noting that the mere possession of Maoist literature did not make one a Maoist. The judges added that possession of a copy of The Story of My Experiments With Truth did not necessarily make one a follower or admirer of Mahatma Gandhi. The case of Sen provides a window into India’s most ferocious fault lines. These run across various axes: economic, social, political, and institutional. In 1991 the Indian economy, previously under strict state control, was opened up to market competition. The dismantling of what was called the “license-permit-quota raj” was overdue. It unleashed the shackled spirits of the Indian entrepreneur; generated wealth, employment, foreign exchange; and spawned a new wave of philanthropy. The software industry represents the best, and most benign, side to globalization. Here, a skilled, English-speaking labor force has taken advantage of the integration with the world economy and of the accident of India’s being five hours ahead of Europe and 10 hours ahead of North America. But there is also a darker side to globalization, as manifested in a growing demand for iron, bauxite, and other minerals, to meet which tens of thousands of villagers have been pushed off their land by private companies acting in collusion with the state. The surge in mining has chiefly taken place in the tribal districts of central and eastern India. The tribals constitute 8 percent of India’s population, and are even worse off than the Dalits (as the former Untouchable castes are known), who make up 15 percent. In a recent book, demographer Arun Maharatna compared the quality of life of an average Dalit with that of an average tribal. On all counts the tribals are more disadvantaged. Some 30.1 percent of Dalits are literate, but only 23.8 percent of tribals are. As many as 41.5 percent of Dalits live below the official poverty line; however, the proportion of poor tribal households is even higher, at 49.5 percent. One in six Dalits has no access to doctors or health clinics; as many as one in four tribals suffers from the same disability; and 63.6 percent of Dalits have access to safe drinking water, but only 43.2 percent of tribals do. Although they are often poor and oppressed, the Dalits do have a visible stake in Indian democracy. The drafting of the Indian Constitution was conducted under the close supervision of the great Dalit lawyer B. R. Ambedkar. Dalits have their own political parties and their own, very influential political leaders: a Dalit woman, Mayawati, is currently chief minister of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh. On the other hand, the tribals have been neglected by the state and the political class. Moreover, they have in recent years been dispossessed of their means of livelihood, and have faced a triple resource curse. Living among some of India’s finest forests, alongside its fastest-flowing rivers, and atop its richest veins of mineral ore, they have had to make way for commercial logging, hydroelectric projects, and mines. Their discontent has been exploited by the Maoists, who are now deeply entrenched in the tribal districts of central and eastern India. The insurgents are very focused. They have a full-time cadre of 20 ,000 activists, with a comparable number of AK-47 s at their command. They are also adept at the use of land mines. In the summer of 2006 , I traveled through the district of Dantewada, in Chhattisgarh, where a state- supported vigilante group had been set up to combat the Maoists. The conflict had divided families, homes, and clans, and claimed hundreds of lives and rendered 100 ,000 tribals homeless. The refugees lived in tents along the main road with no hope of going back to their villages and no prospect of jobs elsewhere in India. Sen had been to Dantewada, too, and published a sharp indictment of the vigilantism, which may be one reason why he has since been persecuted by the government of Chhattisgarh. For criticizing an admittedly totalitarian regime, Liu Xiaobo (winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize) got 10 years in jail; for more or less the same offense, albeit in a county that claims to be the world’s largest democracy, Sen has been sentenced to jail for the rest of his life. The judicial system in India is painfully slow, so, while it is likely the Supreme Court will eventually acquit him of the charges, this may take several years. Sen has suffered greatly, as have very many others, whose cases have unfortunately not been picked up by Amnesty International or even the Indian media. On that trip to Dantewada we also visited the local jail, where we interviewed several tribals who had been locked up because they refused the invitation to join the vigilantes. These “undertrials” (as people awaiting trial are described in India) had no knowledge of the law, no access to lawyers: for all I know they are in jail still. The Indian judicial system is tardy in its upper reaches and corrupt in its lower reaches. The police are always inefficient and often malevolent. Their treatment of undertrials is brutal. On our trip, we collected testimonies of villagers who had their homes burned and their women violated by the police. In every case, they were too terrified to file a formal complaint. The Maoists are lawless in their violence; so too, in these districts, is the state. The trial of Binayak Sen, one hopes, will bring wider attention to these deep deficiencies in Indian democracy. By the same token, the spread of Maoism could perhaps make economic policies more sensitive to tribal rights and needs. Perhaps if they are given a substantial stake in mining and forestry projects, they may yet benefit from the boom. These hopes are probably illusory. Judicial reform may be beyond the present institutional capacities of the Indian state. To make tribals stakeholders may be beyond the moral compass of politicians and mining companies. It is striking that despite the persistence of the Maoist insurgency, no major leader has yet thought it fit to visit these troubled parts of India. Not the prime minister, Manmohan Singh; not the head of the ruling alliance, Sonia Gandhi; not her son and heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi. Like the traveler between Bangalore and Delhi, but with far less excuse, they act as if the conflict did not exist.

Pakistan's Military Tries To Explain Itself

Stung by the embarrassment of the discovery and death of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on Monday, Pakistan's powerful military establishment is under pressure to make changes in its relationship with key allies, and in its fight against terrorism. After three days of sedulous silence on the matter, the military and intelligence leadership on Thursday shared its perspective on the Abbottabad debacle with a select group of senior Pakistani journalists — no foreign news media were invited. The rare closed-door briefing was prompted by a desire to challenge an emerging global narrative that incriminated Pakistan's security establishment in bin- Laden's ability to elude capture, according to some of those present. (See pictures of Osama bin Laden's Pakistan hideout.) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani reiterated at the briefing that Pakistan had not been informed of the raid until it was over. The first communication from the U.S. was a phone call at around 5 a.m. Pakistan time from Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. Kayani congratulated Mullen on the mission's success, but pleaded that President Barack Obama should refrain from "negative remarks" about Pakistan in his planned address — and was pleased that Obama's live TV announcement avoided criticizing Pakistan. Kayani's first indication of the raid came earlier, however, with the news of a helicopter crashing and exploding, which was covered by local news media in Abbottabad. The general knew it wasn't a Pakistani helicopter: "We don't fly at night," he told reporters gathered at the military's headquarters in Rawalpindi. Kayani picked up the phone and ordered his airforce to " scramble the jets". Pakistani military analysts say an order to scramble jets is an authorization to shoot down anything in the sky. But by the time two F-16 s had reached the scene, the Americans had left. Kayani responded to Pakistani concerns over how the U.S. helicopters had entered Pakistani airspace undetected by attributing it to technological advantages. (See "As Pakistan Please Incompetence, Tougher Questions Go Unanswered.") The most damaging accusation against the Pakistani military, of course, is that it must have known bin Laden's was hiding in the small garrison town where army personnel at frequent checkpoints demand identification. "They knew. They knew he was there," wrote Dawn columnist Cyril Almeida, echoing the suspicion of many Pakistanis. Kayani had driven past bin-Laden's bolt- hole literally a week earlier, on his way to tell a gathering at the military academy that the "Pakistan army is fully aware of internal and external threats." Kayani was adamant that the Pakistanis had no idea that bin-Laden was hiding in Abottabad. "We had no clear, actionable information on Osama bin-Laden," he told the journalists. "If we had it, we would have acted ourselves. No one would have questioned our performance for ten years. It would have raised our international prestige." Kayani's argument is supported by some senior Western diplomats in Islamabad, who say that there is no conclusive evidence of Pakistani complicity. Nor have Washington's statements alleged complicity, despite suspicions. Diplomats do not rule out the possibility that junior intelligence officers may have been involved, however. Instead of focusing on whether Pakistan was either complicit or incompetent, the explanation may lie in its lack of focus or effort. In recent years, Pakistan has chiefly concentrated on the threat from the Pakistani Taliban, to the neglect of those posed by al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. The Abbottabad area, Kayani told the briefing, had been of interest to Pakistan's security establishment since at least 2004. There was no suspicion involving the compound, however, and he emphasized that intelligence gathered had been diffuse. Suspicions about Abbottabad were first raised when intercept equipment picked up phone calls in Arabic to Saudi Arabia, concerning finances. That information, Pakistan's military leadership says, was shared with the U.S. At some point, the CIA shutdown its communication with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI). "No intelligence agency shares 100 % of its intelligence" with another country, said Kayani, himself a former ISI chief. (See an animated video of the U.S. raid on bin Laden.) Kayani said that in his ISI role, he was responsible for tracking down Faraj al-Libi, a senior al- Qaeda member who lived in Abbottabad in 2003 and was arrested the following year in Mardan. Western diplomats and analysts say that Pakistan' s success in capturing several al-Qaeda members have been driven by U.S. intelligence. Al- Qaeda leaders Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, and Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Baradar, were all seized in joint operations. When it came to bin Laden, however, U.S. officials feared that cooperation could compromise the operation. While Pakistan's foreign secretary, Salman Bashir, had earlier in the spoken of " strategic convergence" between Islamabad and Washington, Pakistan's intelligence chief chose to be less emollient. Sitting near Kayani, Lieut. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha — recently included in the TIME 100 — said that despite extensive mutual assistance between the CIA and the ISI, Pakistan had made its interests clear to Washington. And, Pasha said he had made clear to Washington that if the U.S. is deemed to be acting against Pakistan's interests, "We'll not help you, we'll resist you." The consensus among diplomats and analysts is that the bin-Laden debacle will compel Pakistan's military leadership to demonstrate a greater commitment to fighting al-Qaeda. Pakistani leaders have said that they will neither tolerate, nor can they afford, further similar raids, for example to seize al- Qaeda number 2 Ayman al- Zawahiri or Taliban leader Mullah Omar. That said, it is fair to assume that the ISI will seek to avoid that possibility by intensifying their own efforts to find bin Laden's deputy. Yet, at the same time, Pakistan can be expected to assert itself in ways that Washington will not like. Embarrassment over bin- Laden's presence in Abbottabad notwithstanding, the Pakistani security establishment is angry at what it views as the first U.S. invasion of a nuclear-armed ally. It fears that neighboring India may be smiling at the vulnerability demonstrated by the American raid, and the resulting indignity is hard to swallow. The Army has decided to "reduce the strength of U.S. military personnel in Pakistan to the minimum essential," it said in a statement on Thursday. At the closed-door briefing, Pasha indignantly claimed that his own ISI was on the verge of being " outnumbered" by foreign agents. Still, the bin-Laden episode limits the security establishment's room to maneuver in several ways. (See why the U.S. won't break up with Pakistan.) Until now, Pakistan's civilian government has sat silently by watching the military make the key decisions on national security and foreign policy, and even extend their control of certain sectors of the economy. A public long accustomed to muffling its criticism of the army has largely acquiesced. Now, for the first time in several years, many are prepared to openly blame the Army for a humiliation some are comparing to the fall of Dhaka in 1971 , when Pakistan lost control of what is now Bangladesh. Suddenly, the civilian government looks more resilient. And the military is not only in trouble with Washington, but also with another key ally, Saudi Arabia, which will not be pleased that its most determined enemy was found in Pakistan. The raid in Abottabad has produced a moment of rare vulnerability in a military establishment that had long been Pakistan's strongest power center.


The U.S. Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin-Laden and removed a bonanza of documents and flash drives may have left behind another vital source of intelligence — bin-Laden's wife, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah. The story of how she found her way back to bin- Laden's hideout in Pakistan from Yemen could well have revealed crucial clues as to whether or not Pakistani authorities had been aware of the al-Qaeda leader's presence in their country. And if U.S. officials had been tracking her at the time, they may have found bin-Laden sooner. The White House says that Amal, 24 , was shot in the calf when she charged at the SEALs who burst into bin- Laden's bedroom, presumably trying to protected her husband. Bin-Laden's body was taken away for burial in the Arabian Sea. But Amal was left behind along with her young daughter, Safiyah, who Pakistani officials say witnessed her father's killing. It is not clear how many of the dozen other children in the compound were bin-Laden's. Pakistani officials say bin- Laden's wife and daughter are now recovering in a military hospital in Rawalpindi, and they have released Amal's passport photograph. (See pictures of Osama bin Laden's Pakistan hideout.) The photograph shows a pale young woman with generous lips. In accordance with Islamic convention, her face is framed by a head scarf and she is wearing no lipstick or make- up. Later Pakistani press reports suggested that bin- Laden may have had several other wives staying with him, but his original spouses are believed to be in Syria, Saudi Arabia and in Iran, possibly under house arrest. In 2002 , Amal reportedly gave an interview to a Saudi woman's magazine, al-Majalla, in which she explained how, after the 9 /11 attacks, she had made her way out of Afghanistan back to Yemen with assistance from Pakistani officials. As bin-Laden's widow told her Saudi interviewer at the time, "When the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan started, we moved to a mountainous area with some children and lived in one of the caves for two months until one of his sons came with a group of tribesmen and took us with them. I did not know that we were going to Pakistan until they handed us over to the Pakistani government." Parts of that account were confirmed to TIME in a telephone interview with an Arab woman who prefers not to be identified, but who knew bin-Laden personally in Afghanistan and whose family formed part of al-Qaeda's inner circle. After 9 /11 , al- Qaeda's leadership had decided to evacuate their families. She says: "All the families had to leave Afghanistan swiftly. They didn't want their women and children captured." However, one of bin-Laden's former aides in Yemen insists Amal never reached home. (See a photo album of the bin Laden family.) After bin-Laden's young bride — Amal was then 19 — was turned over to the Pakistani authorities, she and her daughter Safiya were released and allowed to fly home to Ibb, a town not far from Sanaa, Yemen's capital, where her father worked as a minor civil servant. But bin-Laden somehow arranged for his young wife to rejoin him, with the kids, in hiding in Pakistan. In her Saudi magazine interview, she was asked if she would rejoin her fugitive husband. Her enigmatic reply: "Let us see what happens." Pakistani press quoted officials as saying that Amal claimed to have been living with bin-Laden in the Abbottabad safe house for five years. See photos of Navy Seals in Action. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems that U.S. counter- terrorism experts spent years trying to decipher the name and the whereabouts of bin- Laden's elusive courier when keeping tabs on his comely, young wife might have led them to him sooner. Then there's the question of whether Pakistani authorities had been aware that bin- Laden's bride had returned to their country. Robert Grenier, a former Director of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center and security expert, says it's not impossible to imagine that the Pakistanis could have let Amal leave the country, and fail to detect her return. "The Pakistanis would want to get her back home," Grenier tells TIME. "There are cultural taboos that come up with women. They certainly wouldn' t facilitate her interrogation by foreigners." (See pictures of the battle against the Taliban.) So far, Pakistan is refusing to let U.S. officials anywhere near Amal, now under guard in hospital. Chances are, that won't change — cultural taboos aside, she may also know too many uncomfortable truths. Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani said Thursday that Pakistani is ordering all but the "minimum essential" American personnel to leave Pakistan, a sign that the tense relations between Pakistan and the U.S. have worsened as a result of the Abottabad raid. Pakistan's security establishment has long been accused of playing a double game, taking billions in U.S. aid money while secretly backing select jihadi militants in Afghanistan and in Pakistan' s tribal region. Even al-Qaeda types were expected to play ball. Says the Arab woman formerly connected to al- Qaeda: "There was an understanding with the Pakistani army. We would get a tip-off that the army planned to raid one of our houses in the tribal area. We would flee but leave some ' evidence' behind so that the army could show to the Americans that we'd been there." While CIA Director Leon Panetta said this week that " either (the Pakistanis) were involved or incompetent. Neither is a good place to be." Grenier suggests a more complex scenario: "I'm not giving an alibi for the Pakistanis, but it's virtually inconceivable that Osama and those close to him would have voluntarily allowed their presence to be known by Pakistani officials, especially given the large number of his followers captured by Pakistan. We don't trust the Pakistanis. Why should he?" On the other hand, he adds, " But if his whereabouts were discovered by the Pakistani officials, I can envision them saying, 'He's keeping a low profile, and if we turn him over to the Americans it will create a real fire storm for us'." (Read more about the CIA's rare public victory.) Amal may be said to have leaped to her husband's defense during the SEAL raid, but her acquaintance interviewed by TIME remembers her as shy and meek when she was first brought to Kandahar in 2000 , and was staying with one of bin-Laden's other wives. "She was new. She was out of place. The Sheikh's other wives were much older than she was. So were many of his sons," the source claims. Amal was his fifth wife. His first, Saada, never got over the fact that the billionaire's son she married preferred living in a simple hut in Afghanistan to a palace back home. In 2000 , bin-Laden sent a trusted Yemeni aide, Abual-Fida, on the hunt for a new bride. As Fida later told an interviewer, bin-Laden wanted his new wife to be "religious, generous, well-brought up, quiet, calm and young enough not to feel jealous of the Sheikh's other wives." Despite the huge age gap, the Yemeni family considered it an honor to marry off their daughter to bin-Laden. The al- Qaeda chief reportedly paid $5 ,000 in jewelry and clothes for his teenaged bride who was then brought to Afghanistan to marry the grizzled warrior — already on the U.S. most-wanted list for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. "To me, it's astonishing that she came back to join him [in Pakistan]," said the source with former ties to al-Qaeda. "None of the other fighters brought back their wives." But did the Pakistani authorities know that she had returned from Yemen? With bin-Laden's wife now in Pakistani custody, the White House won't find out any time soon.

ISI Chief May Quit Over Osama Operation

Islamabad: Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha may step down in the wake of widespread criticism of the Pakistani establishment over US special forces killing Osama bin Laden near a key military facility in the garrison city of Abbottabad, according to a media report on Friday. Pasha may quit as the Pakistan government "looks for a fall guy for the bin Laden debacle", unnamed senior officials were quoted as saying by 'The Daily Beast', a news website affiliated to Newsweek magazine. The senior officials said "they recognise that an important head has to roll and soon" to allay domestic and international anger over bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad, located close to the federal capital of Islamabad. The officials said the "most likely candidate to be the fall guy is Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha". They said it was "nearly a done deal". Pakistani analysts with close connections to the military agreed. "It would make a lot of sense... It's in his (Pasha's) personal and the national interest to take the heat off," said Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood, one of Pakistan's leading defence analysts. An official statement issued yesterday after a meeting of Corps Commanders chaired by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the military admitted its "own shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan". It added that "an investigation has been ordered into the circumstances that led to this situation". The Daily Beast reported that Pakistanis were furious that the ISI and the powerful military, which control national security policy, " could have been so incompetent not to know that the al Qaeda leader was comfortably holed up in Abbottabadd", only 80 km north of Islamabad. "Never before have the military and the ISI come under such criticism," said Masood. People are angry that the military, which gets the lion's share of the budget, could be totally unaware that US helicopters had violated Pakistani airspace during the raid that killed bin Laden on Monday. Pakistani officials, both from the civilian government and the military, have said the US did not inform them about the raid. "People are outraged... They see this as the fault of the military in which they have invested so much trust," Masood was quoted as saying. However, a senior ISI officer told The Daily Beast he could not confirm the report and he had no knowledge of Pasha being " pressured into resigning". The officer said, "It's far from routine for someone to resign over failures. But someone has to resign." A former ISI officer was more blunt, the website reported. "It was a great failure of, and an embarrassment to Pakistani intelligence. The pressure is mounting for Pasha to resign," he said. Pasha's resignation could be the first step in a process of rebuilding that badly damaged confidence, Masood and senior Pakistani officials said. "It could ease a lot of pressure," Masood said. It would also help rehabilitate the army's and the ISI's badly tarnished image. The senior Pakistani officials said Pasha was never keen on the ISI job in the first place as he had no background in intelligence and was an infantry and armour officer in previous commands. He was, however, very close to Kayani, who insisted he take the job when he was nominated as army chief in 2008. Pasha had served under Kayani's command as an infantry officer and had served as head of military operations just as Kayani had. Kayani also headed the ISI during 2004-07 until former military ruler Pervez Musharraf appointed him army chief. Pasha has been given two extensions as the ISI chief, the latest earlier this year. Cricket Update