Pakistan Security Brief - May 3, 2011

Details on Osama’s death emerge; CIA tracked courier Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti; Speculation rife about Pakistani knowledge of Osama’s whereabouts; Zardari denies Pakistan knew of Osama’s location; ISI official claims “intelligence failure;” Founder of LeT pays tribute to bin Laden; Hundreds protest death in Quetta; TTP threatens to attack Pakistan and U.S. over death; Musharraf: operation violation of sovereignty; Foreign fighters cross into Afghanistan; Karzai: main terrorist threat comes from Pakistan; Bomb detonated near mosque in Charsadda; Violence erupts in Karachi following death of MQM leader.

 

Details on Osama’s Death Emerge

  • In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death early on Monday, details have emerged about the lead-up to the operation. The breakthrough in one of history’s most extensive manhunts came when intelligence officials discovered the name of bin Laden’s trusted courier, Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti. Following the capture of al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he confirmed knowing al Kuwaiti but denied any affiliations with al  Qaeda. However, in 2004 top al Qaeda operative Hassan Ghul told the CIA that al Kuwaiti worked as a courier close to Faraj al Libi, who had replaced Mohammed as al Qaeda's operational commander. When al Libi was captured in 2005, he denied knowing al Kuwaiti but issued “a denial that was so adamant and unbelievable that the CIA took it as confirmation that he and Mohammed were protecting the courier.” Last year, Ahmed had a telephone conversation with someone being monitored by U.S. intelligence; U.S. authorities began to watch him and track his movements. Last July, Pakistani agents working for the C.I.A. spotted him driving his vehicle near Peshawar and followed him to the compound in Abbottabad, a residence where al Libi had once lived. Ahmed was subsequently killed in the raid on Monday.[i]
  • Following the death of Osama bin Laden early Monday morning, speculation has been rampant about how the head of al Qaeda managed to live undetected in the Abbottabad compound while surrounded by Pakistani military garrisons. John Brennan, the Obama administration’s top counterterrorism official, said that “It’s inconceivable that Bin Laden did not have a support system in the country that allowed him to remain there for an extended period of time. I am not going to speculate about what type of support he might have had on an official basis inside of Pakistan. We are closely talking to the Pakistanis right now, and again, we are leaving open opportunities to continue to pursue whatever leads might be out there.”  However, an unidentified former CIA official has said that “ISI probably knew the identity of the owner of the large compound where Bin Laden was discovered, but not that Bin Laden was hiding there.” Meanwhile, in a Washington Post opinion piece, President Zardari denied that Pakistani security forces had provided shelter to bin Laden, and wrote that, “Some in the U.S. press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism, or worse yet that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing. Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn't reflect fact." An Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency official additionally said that the failure to capture bin Laden was an “intelligence failure.” The Pakistani military has not officially commented on the death of bin Laden. [ii]
 

Reactions in Pakistan

  • During prayers on Monday, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, paid tribute to bin Laden, stating that, "Osama bin Laden was a great person who awakened the Muslim world. Martyrdoms are not losses, but are a matter of pride for Muslims. Osama bin Laden has rendered great sacrifices for Islam and Muslims, and these will always be remembered." Meanwhile, hundreds of citizens in Quetta protested in the streets on Monday against the killing of the al Qaeda leader. The demonstrations were led by members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and federal lawmaker Maulvi Asmatullah. Organizers estimated that between 1,000 and 1,200 people participated in the rally, however, witnesses projected that 800 were in attendance. Dawn reports that a U.S. flag was set on fire and the participants chanted “death to America.”[iii]
  • A spokesperson for the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), Ehsanullah Ehsan, has threatened to attack both Pakistan and the United States for their roles in the death of bin Laden. He declared, "If [bin Laden] has been martyred, we will avenge his death and launch attacks against American and Pakistani governments and their security forces. These people are in fact the enemies of Islam. If he has become a martyr, it is a great victory for us because martyrdom is the aim of all of us.”[iv]
  • Pakistan’s former president, General (ret.) Pervez Musharraf, claimed that the U.S. operation to kill bin Laden violated Pakistan’s sovereignty. He argued, “America coming to our territory and taking action is a violation of our sovereignty. Handling and execution of the operation (by US forces) is not correct. The Pakistani government should have been kept in the loop.”[v]
  • Twenty-five foreign fighters were killed and wounded by Afghan security forces after they crossed the border from Pakistan, what Jamaluddin Badr, governor of the Nuristan province in Afghanistan, said was “the first sign of retaliatory attacks in Afghanistan.” The fighters were of Arab, Chechen, and Pakistani descent and had attempted to enter the Barg-e-Matal district of Nuristan, close to the border with Pakistan. Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated that the main terrorist threat in the region comes from Pakistan. The president declared, “Osama was not in Afghanistan: they found him in Pakistan. The war on terror is not in Afghan villages…but in the safe havens of terrorism outside Afghanistan."[vi]
 

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

  • A bomb detonated near a mosque in Charsadda on Monday, killing a woman and three children. The target of the bombing appeared to be a police station, according to local police chief Nisar Khan Marwat. Five others were wounded in the attack, including two police officials. The mosque was destroyed and the outer wall of the police station damaged.[vii]

 

Violence in Karachi

 
 
 
 


[i] Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, “Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden,” Associated Press, May 3, 2011. Available at http://ap.stripes.com/dynamic/stories/U/US_BIN_LADEN_HUNT_FOR_BIN_LADEN?SITE=DCSAS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
[ii] Carlotta Gall and Eric Schmitt, “Amid Skepticism, Pakistan Calculates Its Response,” New York Times, May 2, 2011. Available at
[iii] “Hundreds join rally to honour Osama,” Dawn, May 3, 2011. Available at
[iv] “Taliban threatens US, Pakistan over Obama,” GEO News, May 2, 2011, Available at http://geo.tv/5-2-2011/81010.htm
[v]US strike violates Pak sovereignty: Musharraf,” CNN-IBN, May 2, 2011. Available at http://ibnlive.in.com/news/us-strike-violates-pak-sovereignty-musharraf/151009-56.html
[vi] Hamid Shalizi and Paul Tait, “Twenty-five fighters killed, wounded near Afghan-Pakistan border,” Reuters, May 2, 2011. Available at
[vii] “Bomb blast kills four near Charsadda mosque,” Dawn, May 2, 2011. Available at
[viii] Imran Ayub, “Violence erupts after killing of Muttahida leader,” Dawn, May 3, 2011. Available at