The compound in Abbottabad where Osama Bin Laden was killed was once used as a safe house by Pakistan's premier intelligence agency ISI, Gulf News has learned.
"This area had been used as ISI's safe house, but it was not under their use any more because they keep on changing their locations," a senior intelligence official confided to Gulf News. However, he did not reveal when and for how long it was used by the ISI operatives. Another official cautiously said "it may not be the same house but the same compound or area used by the ISI".
The official also confirmed that the house was rented out by Afghan nationals and is not owned by the government. The house is located just 800 metres away from the Pakistan Military Academy and some former senior military officials live nearby.
Another white-knuckle moment – at the end of the operation, Pakistan’s military scrambled fighter jets looking for the US helicopters. Who knows what could have happened if the Pakistani planes had reached the US helicopters -- but they didn’t.
The US team got back to Afghanistan by around 5:45 pm ET.
It stretches credulity to think that a mansion of that scale could have been built and occupied by bin Laden for six years without its coming to the attention of anyone in the Pakistani Army.
The initial circumstantial evidence suggests that the opposite is more likely—that bin Laden was effectively being housed under Pakistani state control.
American diplomats were told that one of the key reasons why they had failed to find bin Laden was that Pakistan’s security services tipped him off whenever US troops approached. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) also allegedly smuggled al-Qaeda terrorists through airport security to help them avoid capture and sent a unit into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban.
The claims, made in leaked US government files obtained by Wikileaks, will add to questions over Pakistan’s capacity to fight al-Qaeda.