Islamabad: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has revealed that the United States had shared its apprehensions of most wanted Al-Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden hiding in the country before American CIA troops killed him in Abbottabad in 2011. Gilani, who served as Pakistan’s PM from 2008 to 2012, said the information was shared by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In an interview, the 71-year-old Gilani said he dismissed Rice’s apprehensions of bin Laden hiding in Pakistan as “disinformation”. Rice visited Pakistan four times, and during one such visit, she met the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader in December 2008 following a visit to New Delhi after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. “Condoleezza Rice had visited Pakistan and her apprehensions were that he (bin Laden) was in Pakistan,” Gilani said on Thursday.
Osama bin Laden, one of the world’s most notorious terrorist leaders responsible for the devastating 9/11 attacks that killed over 3,000 people in America, was killed by US Navy Seals in a stealth operation on May 2, 2011 under the presidency of Barack Obama. The 54-year-old Saudi-born militant leader was hiding in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Gilani said that bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan was an intelligence failure of the entire world, not just Pakistan. “If they had any evidence they should have given it to us. We would have helped them because we were against terrorism and we were fighting a war against terrorism and lost many precious lives of military men and civilians who were martyred and we also lost billions of dollars,” he said during the interview.
The former PM said he used to get briefings on the terrorist’s presence in Pakistan and “they were very clear”, adding that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) cooperated closely to locate the notorious terrorist and all high-value targets were achieved.
Gilani was asked about his speech in Pakistan’s National Assembly, questioning bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan. He answered that Pakistan’s motive was to stop the international media because bin Laden was not a Pakistani citizen and came from abroad.
Rice, 69, is an American educator and politician, who served as the national security adviser (2001–05) and secretary of state (2005–09) to US President George W Bush. She is the current director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza was killed in a US counter-terrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in 2019, said then-US President Donald Trump. Bin Laden’s death was an unexpected blow to Al-Qaida and their calculations in Afghanistan. Not only Osama Bin Laden’s death was a financial and strategic blow to the terrorist organisation but he was also a face that symbolised terrorist activities.
(with inputs from PTI)