Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence provided the United States with leads that helped them find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Khan made the claim during an interview with Fox News.
Pakistan had officially denied having any knowledge of Laden’s presence in the country until US Navy Seals killed him in a house in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.
The Pakistan prime minister, who is on a three-day visit to the United States, was asked whether his country would release a jailed doctor whose fake immunisation drive helped the US track and kill bin Laden in 2011. “This is a very emotive issue, because Shakeel Afridi in Pakistan is considered a spy [for the US],” Khan said. US President Donald Trump has sought the release of the doctor.
“We in Pakistan always felt that we were an ally of the US and if we had been given the information about Osama bin Laden, we should have taken him out,” Khan said.
Khan was then questioned about the skepticism around the ISI. He responded: “And yet it was ISI that gave the information which led to the location of Osama bin Laden. If you ask CIA [Central Intelligence Agency], it was ISI which gave the initial location through the phone connection.”
He also said that Pakistan was fighting the war against terrorism for the United States. The raid and killing of Laden “hugely embarrassed Pakistan”, Khan added.
“Here we were an ally of the US and the US did not trust us,” Khan said. “And they actually came and bombed and killed a man in our territory.” Khan said that Pakistan lost 70,000 people in the war on terror.
“We were fighting this war for the US and we lost all these people fighting this war,” the Pakistan prime minister said. “So there was obviously a lot of anger about the way this whole thing was done. But you know, that’s all in the past.”
Osama bin Laden, who was the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, was tracked down after a ten-year manhunt to Abbottabad, a garrison town north of Islamabad where Pakistan’s military academy is headquartered. It had sparked allegations that Pakistani authorities were colluding with Al-Qaeda.