Alleged Bin Laden Raid Informants Arrested in Pakistan

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I am Marco Werman, this is The World. The killing of Osama Bin Laden last month was a triumph for U.S. counter terrorism, but fallout from the incident continues to strain relations between the U.S. and Pakistan where Bin Laden was killed. Today it's reported that five Pakistanis who helped the CIA plan the Bin Laden operation have been detained by Pakistan's military. That's the same institution that failed to apprehend the al-Qaeda leader or to detect the U.S. raid on his hiding place. The BBC's Aleem Maqbool is in the town where Bin Laden was killed, Abbottabad. Aleem, who has been taken in for questioning and why?

Aleem Maqbool: Well most of the information we're getting about the actual people who have been detained is coming from Western officials who have been briefing here. Now they say, among these five people who have been arrested in the last few days includes one man who owned the building from which the CIA observed the Bin Laden compound. And the second they say an army major, a Pakistani army major who apparently kept records of who was coming and going to the compound and past that information on to the CIA. Now, the Pakistani army has acknowledged that there have been arrests of people suspected of informing the CIA, but they say there have been many arrests, dozens of arrests across the country over the last six weeks. But they strongly deny that anyone from within their own ranks has been detained.

Werman: And, are these individuals being accused of any crime?

Maqbool: Well, of informing a foreign spy agency, even though that spy agency, the CIA, is one which the Pakistanis are committed to working with. But this time round, certainly the Army says that the CIA went too far, the Americans went too far. They should have informed them of this operation, and that's why they're so angry. But there is another side to this as well, and that of course is the humiliation that that operation caused. The public here, the politicians here, the media have really had it out for the leaders of the Pakistan military. Even within the military, a lot of people have called for heads to roll.

Werman: So do Pakistanis interpret these arrests as kind of an anti-humiliation campaign?

Maqbool: Yes, I mean it's something that they were asking for. Really, I mean it is curious Marco, that since this operation took place on the 2nd of May here in Abbottabad, that most of the discussion has not been focused on why Osama Bin Laden was here, who was supporting him; although, apparently there are investigations going on. But much more, the debate has been focused on how the Americans could have carried out this operation without Pakistani knowledge. And really lots of Pakistanis asking, because of it, for a reassessment of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

Werman: Now, these people who were rounded up helped make the Bin Laden operation possible. What is the U.S. doing to help those arrested?

Maqbool: Well Leon Panetta, of course, was here just a few days ago; the Director of the CIA, he was here. Apparently in those meetings, we just can't verify it, but there are sources who say that he raised the issue. The Pakistanis apparently gave some assurances. We really don't know, these are sources that can't be verified. But apparently they have raised the case. And more so, they also want some answers on the other side as to why Bin Laden was here. There are, at the last count, four different official investigations to that end, here in Pakistan, but nothing is reported back so far. And we aren't hearing really of many arrests when it comes to those who aided and abetted Osama Bin Laden.

Werman: The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Abbottabad. Thank you.

Maqbool: No problem.