White House silence fuels speculation on Osama’s end

May 5th, 2011 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, May 5 (IANS) As the White House fell silent after a series of mis-steps, conflicting reports emerged about the killing of Osama bin Laden with Pakistan admitting that its India focus led to its failure to find the world’s most wanted terrorist.

A US Navy SEAL team killed the Al Qaeda leader in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, just 120 km from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, with rapid shots to his chest and forehead, CNN said citing a US official who has seen military reports of the raid.

There were weapons near Osama, who died on an upper floor of the compound toward the end of the nearly 40-minute raid, CNN cited Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee as saying.

“He was right there and going to get those arms,” she said offering her explanation of what the White House called some form of resistance offered by the unarmed Osama. “You really can’t take a chance.”

But what the administration initially said was an “intense firefight” leading to the Al Qaeda leader’s death, The New York Times Thursday dubbed as an “extremely one-sided” attack.

The Times said Officials briefed on the operation indicate the only bullets ever fired at the SEAL team came from Osama’s trusted courier — the man who inadvertently led the US to the compound — in the first minutes of the raid.

After that, once the SEALs entered the three-storey block-like structure, they were never fired upon again.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama made it clear in an exclusive interview with “60 Minutes” that the White House would not release photos of Osama’s body saying: “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.”

With Pakistan in the dock over its failure to find the world’s most wanted man hiding in plain sight near an elite military academy, Islamabad’s envoy to US Husain Haqqani blamed it on neither complicity nor incompetence, but the intelligence establishment’s focus on India.

“The only other explanation is the focus of Pakistan’s national security strategy which has always been the perceived threat from our eastern neighbour,” he said on the Charlie Rose Show Wednesday.

“So it is possible people within our security establishment just did not take trying to locate Osama bin Laden as seriously as they should have,” Haqqani admitted.

The envoy also suggested Pakistani fighter jets scrambled into the skies early Monday after incursions of its airspace were detected, thinking there was an attack from India.

“After all, we have always assumed that any area intrusion into our sovereign territory will come from the east,” he said. Asked if he meant Afghanistan, Haqqani said: “No, from India.”

Investigators, meanwhile, pored over the material gathered at Osama’s hideout.

They include 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices, such as disks, DVDs and thumb drives, CNN said citing a senior US official. The material might provide clues on Al Qaeda members and plots for future attacks.

The commandos also recovered five cellphones, audio and video equipment, paper documents and some five guns, including AK-47s and pistols, a US official said.

“As we glean information from that material, we will make appropriate decisions with regard to who might we add to the terrorist watch list, the no-fly list, all those things,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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