Pakistan Security Brief

U.S. releases bin Laden videos; New York Times on Osama’s life in Abbottabad; Subdued reaction from extremist groups; Weekly Standard: CIA questions what Pakistani officials knew; U.S. asks for identity of Pakistani intelligence operatives; ISI chief Pasha may step down; Gilani addresses Parliament; U.S. calls for bin Laden widows to be questioned; Qureshi calls for Zardari and Gilani to resign; Pakistani media outlets air CIA station chief name; Debate over the fate of the Abbottabad compound; Two FC officers killed in South Waziristan; Taliban fighters rally in Wana against bin Laden operation; Five killed in clash in Bara; Seven militants killed in security operation in Mohmand; Five insurgents killed in clash in Orakzai; Trial for Tahawwur Rana begins May 16; Blast in Peshawar outside house of provincial minister; Grenade blast in Karachi.


Osama’s bin Laden’s Death: the Story Develops

  • On Saturday, footage from five videos recovered from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad residence was released by the U.S. government. Intelligence officials said that the videos and other intelligence recovered in the operation show that bin Laden was still “active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions.” The Obama administration released the videos as an attempt to diminish the legacy of bin Laden, who in the videos is portrayed as one who zealously guarded his own image. One video in particular shows bin Laden wrapped in a blanket watching news clips about himself on television, while another reveals him recording video messages for his followers. A U.S. intelligence official said that bin Laden’s “concern about his appearance suggested that he was intensely interested in the image he presented to his supporters, and that he was deeply immersed in the propaganda efforts of al Qaeda.”[i]
  • The New York Times has released a profile on the five years of bin Laden’s life spent behind the walls of his Abbottabad compound. U.S. officials believe that the world’s most wanted terrorist spent his days on the computer, connected to the outside world through thumb drives that were loaded with information and delivered to him by his couriers. U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials have speculated that he was most likely “an isolated man, perhaps a little bored, presiding over family life while plotting mayhem — still desperate to be heard, intent on outsize influence, musing in his handwritten notebooks about killing more Americans.”[ii]

The United States and Pakistan Respond

  • The Washington Post reports on the subdued reaction from Pakistan’s most extremist groups, reflecting “the eroded resonance of bin Laden’s message and the disarray of Pakistani militant groups, whose attacks have slowed in recent months.” The media outlet reports that condemnation of bin Laden’s killing as been widespread, but more so for the method of the killing by U.S. SEALs than for the actual death of the terrorist.[iii]
  • The Weekly Standard details what Pakistani military and intelligence agents may or may not have known about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. While an unidentified U.S. official said, “I can say with high confidence that those at the top of the Pakistani military and its intelligence service did not know where bin Laden was hiding,” suspicion still runs deep. However, while the CIA investigated the property that bin Laden was residing in, they also searched for signs that Pakistan officials were assisting those living in the compound. According to the Weekly Standard, “they did not find any.”[iv]
  • The Obama administration has asked for the identities of various Pakistani intelligence operatives to determine whether any of them had contact with Osama bin Laden or his agents while he was residing in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistani media outlets have speculated that Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, may step down because of “both domestic and international anger and dismay over the presence of Osama bin Laden.” Major General Athar Abbas, a Pakistani military spokesperson, denied that Pasha has been asked to resign. Meanwhile, Pasha has reportedly traveled to Washington to meet with CIA head Leon Panetta, though his visit has not been confirmed.[v]
  • In an address to Parliament, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has declared that Pakistan is “not the birthplace of al Qaeda and could not be held accountable alone for the creation of the terror network.” In addition, the prime minister said that the U.S. operation on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad risks serious repercussions. Meanwhile, the Express Tribune reports that the Pakistani government is contemplating a parliamentary probe into the bin Laden operation and his presence within Abbottabad. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, said that “Heads will roll, once the investigation has been completed. Now, if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you. And if, God forbid, somebody's complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that, as well.”[vi]
  • National Security Adviser Tom Donilon has asked that Pakistan allow U.S. investigators to conduct interviews with bin Laden’s three widows. According to the New York Times, the U.S. government is “demanding to know whether, and to what extent, Pakistani government, intelligence or military officials were complicit in hiding Bin Laden.” The media outlet reports that the widows may possess information about the comings and goings of people who were aiding bin Laden. However, Donilon was quoted as saying that the U.S. government has not seen evidence that the Pakistani government knew about bin Laden residing within their borders. Meanwhile, in a television interview on Sunday evening, President Obama declared that, “We think that there had to be some sort of support network for Bin Laden inside of Pakistan. But we don’t know who or what that support network was. We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate, and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.”[vii]
  • On Saturday, former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called for Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari to resign, amid criticism over the government's handling of the bin Laden raid. Calling the operation by the United States, "unprovoked aggression," Qureshi said that Zardari should have addressed the Pakistani people immediately following the incident, instead of writing an opinion piece in a U.S. newspaper. Meanwhile, 500 Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) demonstrators rallied on Sunday in response to the U.S. raid on Pakistani territory.[viii]
  • Pakistani media outlets have aired the name of a man they believe is the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad. ARY, a Pakistani television channel, first aired the name on Friday while reporting on a meeting between ISI head Lieutenant General Pasha and the station chief. Western media outlets have said that the reported name is inaccurate, and that there are no plans to remove the CIA station chief from the country.[ix]
  • Pakistani leaders have debated over the fate of the Abbottabad compound that bin Laden resided in.  Officials have considered both demolishing it to prevent the site from becoming a shrine to bin Laden, or else turning it into a tourist attraction. The residence has turned into a local attraction since the raid, with hundreds of people gathering daily to take pictures and peer into the compound. [x]



  • Two Frontier Corps officers were killed in an explosion in the Asman Manza area of South Waziristan on Sunday. The officers were traveling from Kaniguram to Ladah when they were hit by the improvised explosive device (IED). In addition, a commander for Hakimullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) group was killed in an attack by Qari Zainuddin fighters, a pro-government tribal militia from South Waziristan. However, a spokesperson for the Fidayan-e-Islam group denied that the commander had been killed. Meanwhile, tribesmen have said that two missiles fired from South Waziristan landed in the Machadad Kot camp in Afghanistan, though there have been no reports of casualties. Also, in the Wana area of South Waziristan, around five hundred Pakistani Taliban fighters led by Maulvi Nazir rallied against the killing of bin Laden. The demonstrators vowed to avenge bin Laden’s death and chanted anti-U.S. slogans.[xi]
  • Five people were killed in the Sheen Drang area of Bara sub-district of Khyber Agency on Saturday. Security forces had shelled the hideouts of Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) insurgents when a shell landed on a nearby house, resulting in the fatalities.[xii]
  • Seven militants were killed in an operation by military helicopters in Mohmand Agency on Sunday. Militants had attacked security forces in the Safi area of the agency and received retaliatory fire from the military personnel. Five militants were also wounded in the operation. Meanwhile, five soldiers were wounded when an IED exploded in Sheikh Baba village.[xiii]
  • On Sunday, five insurgents were killed in a clash between two militant groups in the Mamuzai area of Orakzai Agency. The fighting between the Mulla Mehboob and Mulla Toofan groups also resulted in the death of a commander, Sheikh Afzal, who was allegedly in charge of a torture cell within the Mulla Toofan group.[xiv]


Trial for ‘Mumbai Attacks’ Suspect

  • On May 16, “the first public airing of the ISI’s alleged involvement in the Mumbai attack will begin” with the trial of Tahawwur Rana, the Chicago resident charged with providing material support in connection to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. Rana’s attorney has defended that Rana is innocent because he thought he was playing a role in an ISI espionage operation. Pakistani officials have denied that the ISI was involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.[xv]



Blast in Karachi

  • Three people were killed and twenty-seven others were injured in a grenade blast in Karachi on Friday. Unidentified men on motorcycles staged the attack in the Chakiwara area. Senior home ministry official Sharfuddin Memon said, “We are investigating if the attack was the result of rivalry between criminal gangs or involvement of insurgents.”[xvii]

[i] Elisabeth Bumiller, “Videos From Bin Laden’s Hide-Out Released,” New York Times, May 7, 2011. Available at
[ii] Elisabeth Bumiller, Carlotta Gall, and Salman Masood, “Bin Laden’s Secret Life in a Diminished World,” New York Times, May 7, 2011. Available at
[iii] Karin Brulliard, “Unusual quiet from radical Pakistani groups,” Washington Post, May 6, 2011. Available at
[iv] Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, “Reasonable Suspicion,” Weekly Standard, May 16, 2011. Available at
[v] Helene Cooper and Ismail Khan, "U.S. Demands More From Pakistan in Bin Laden Inquiry," New York Times, May 6, 2011. Available at
[vi] “Pakistan has full confidence in its military, intelligence: PM,” AFP, May 9, 2011. Available at
[vii] David Sanger, “U.S. Raises Pressure on Pakistan in Raid’s Wake,” New York Times, May 8, 2011. Available at
[viii] "Zardari and Gilani should resign: Qureshi," Express Tribune, May 7, 2011. Available at
[ix] Siobhan Gorman and Matthew Rosenberg, “Pakistan-U.S. Rift Widens,” Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2011. Available at
[x] “Debate Rages Over Fate of bin Laden Compound,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2011. Available at
[xi] “Blast kills two FC personnel,” Dawn, May 9, 2011. Available at
[xii] "Five killed as shell fired by forces hits house in Bara," The News, May 8, 2011. Available at
[xiii] Shakirullah, “Seven militants killed in Mohmand Agency clashes, blast,” The News, May 9, 2011. Available at
[xiv] “Five killed as militant groups clash in Orakzai,” The News, May 9, 2011. Available at
[xv] Sebastian Rotella, “Trial in Mumbai attacks could strain U.S.-Pakistan relations,” Washington Post, May 7, 2011. Available at
[xvi] "Three injured in Peshawar blast," Express Tribune, May 8, 2011. Available at
[xvii] "Grenade blast in Karachi, three killed 27 injured," Dawn, May 6, 2011. Available at 
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