Tug Of War Over The Young Bride Who Tried To Save Bin Laden As Pakistan Refuses To Hand Her Over To The U.S.
- Bin Laden had 500 euro ($740) note sewn into his clothes, ready to flee
- Terror chief also had two phone numbers sewn into clothes
- Wife confronted U.S. forces and was shot but not killed
- She was NOT the human shield who tried to protect him
- U.S. and Pakistan in 'custody battle' over wife
- 12-year-old daughter claims bin Laden was 'arrested and killed later'Flags burned at pro-Bin Laden protests in Quetta, Pakistan
Pakistan and America are locked in a diplomatic stand-off over the fate of Osama Bin Laden’s youngest wife.
Amal al Sadah was at the centre of an international custody battle after Pakistan refused to give America permission to speak to her yesterday.
The 27-year-old, from Yemen, rushed Navy SEAL troops in a desperate bid to shield her fugitive husband during Sunday's raid.
She was shot in the leg as U.S. forces stormed the compound in Pakistan, but had to be left behind after one of the evacuation helicopters crash landed.
She was captured by Pakistani forces. Today she was trapped in an international custody battle, with Pakistan and America locked in a diplomatic standoff over her fate as the two countries traded slurs over whether the Islamic state sheltered bin Laden for a decade.
U.S. Special Forces meant to take the Yemeni citizen with them when they raided Bin Laden’s compound but they left her behind after one of their helicopters crashed on landing, leaving them with no room to take her.
But with accusations flying that Pakistan shielded the international terrorist, officials refused the Americans permission to interrogate her at the military hospital in Rawalpindi where she is being treated for a bullet wound in the calf.
They said that Al Sadah would be sent back to Yemen once she has recovered. That would prevent the U.S. from learning key details about bin Laden’s time in Pakistan.
It will fuel the charge that the Pakistani intelligence service the ISI effectively protected bin Laden and does not want details of links between Pakistan and Al Qaeda to see the light of day.
It has also emerged that bin Laden’s youngest daughter has claimed her father was executed after being captured alive by U.S. Navy Seals.
The incendiary claims by the 12-year-old girl, who witnessed his dying moments, add to growing unease over the version of events being told by the White House.
The daughter’s claims, which are impossible to verify, were said to have been made to Pakistani investigators and were reported by Arabic news network Al-Arabiya.
It said the youngster alleges her father was ‘arrested and killed later’ and his body dragged to a helicopter.
Bin Laden family members who are now in Pakistani custody have also claimed that no shots were fired by anyone living in the compound.
U.S. security officials admitted they did not recover any arms and explosives during their detailed search of the compound and the 13-roomed house, during which they removed two buffaloes, a cow and around 150 chickens.
The White House insists bin Laden was shot only after putting up ‘resistance’ when the Navy Seal special forces swooped.
A slew of fresh details about the capture of bin Laden have emerged in the last 24 hours, which indicate the terror chief had a plan to escape alive if he ever came under attack.
It seems the terror mastermind was prepared to flee his bolthole at a moment’s notice – with a 500 euro note and two phone numbers stitched into his robes.
Details of how the Al Qaeda leader was ready to keep running if his cover was blown, showing the urgency of the mission to get him, were revealed by White House sources yesterday.
Although 500 euros – around $740 – might not be a fortune, it should have been enough to fund a rapid departure to the Afghanistan border, or another hideout in Pakistan.
It is well known that 500 euro notes are the currency of choice in the drug and international crime world, with a significant proportion of the total in circulation held by criminal gangs, leaving them in short supply for the rest of us.
As a result, the large denomination note was nicknamed ‘the bin Laden’, supposedly because you know it’s out there, what it looks like, and that it moves around a lot, but no one ever sees it.
CIA director Leon Panetta is also said to have briefed that bin Laden was not more strongly guarded because he believed his network was strong enough that he would get a heads-up about any raid.
A senior U.S. official told Fox News the compound was 'built for deception' with barricades and a false wall set up to confuse intruders.
It was built in readiness for an assault, the official claimed, with barricades on each floor and the main door apparently blocked off by a brick wall.
A Pakistani official rejected U.S. accounts of a bloody firefight, saying: 'Not a single bullet was fired from the compound at the U.S. forces and their choppers. Their chopper developed some technical fault and crashed and the wreckage was left on the spot,' Arabic news network Al Arabiya reported.
The channel also said the surviving bin Laden relatives, including six children and one of his wives, had been taken to hospital in Rawalpindi.
There were also reports that bin Laden's son Mohammed was captured by the U.S. forces and flown out of the compound.
A CIA spokesman has categorically denied both the claims, with unnamed White House officials adding: 'The only person other than the team who left Abbottabad was Osama bin Laden's remains.'
In a particularly salacious account, the National Enquirer claimed that the Al Qaeda leader had begged for his life and said 'it's not me' when he was confronted by the hit team.
The White House has changed its story several times on what actually happened in the compound that night.
In explanation of the discrepancies, press secretary Jay Carney said that officials had been trying to get information out as quickly as possible about the complex event witnessed by just a handful of people, and the storyline was being corrected.
'We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you. And obviously some of the information was, came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on.'
There are fears that America’s bungled presentation of the exact circumstances of the killing will stoke conspiracy theories and inflame sentiments among some elements of the Arab world.
Flags have been burned at pro-Al Qaeda protests in Quetta, Pakistan, while the Pakistani Taliban terror group – behind scores of bloody attacks and the failed bombing in New York’s Times Square – has vowed revenge.
The former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German TV the killing ‘was quite clearly a violation of international law’ and warned of ‘incalculable consequences in the Arab world’.
But Tony Blair, a Middle East peace envoy, described the killing of Bin Laden as ‘brilliantly executed’ and added: ‘It was done as well by the Americans as you could possibly expect. The Americans have given their account and I am sure that is accurate.’
On the streets of Cairo yesterday, many were indignant at how the Americans had consigned bin Laden to a watery grave, and some said his killers had acted no better than their victim.
Others compared his fate to that of the September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who instead of being shot dead was captured and awaits trial.
The Pakistani Taliban, an Al Qaeda-allied group behind scores of bloody attacks in Pakistan and the failed bombing in New York's Times Square, has vowed to take revenge.
'Let me make it very clear that we will avenge the martyrdom of Osama bin Laden, and we will do it by carrying out attacks in Pakistan and America. We will teach them an exemplary lesson,' Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said.
Meanwhile, the White House said bin Laden's death would not affect plans to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer.
The row over bin Laden's wife erupted as Pakistan insisted the failure to capture the Al Qaeda chief was an ‘international intelligence failure’ and claimed that the Americans were tipped off two years ago about the compound where Bin Laden was living.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani sought to shift the focus of blame for the terrorist chief’s decade-long escape from justice. He said: ‘There is an intelligence failure of the whole world, not just Pakistan alone.’
He said Pakistan shared intelligence ‘with the rest of the world, including the United States,’ so if there were what he called lapses in Pakistan ‘that means lapses from the whole world.’
CIA director Leon Panetta has said the Pakistani authorities were not told in advance of the raid on bin Laden because ‘any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission - they might alert the targets’.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Salman Bashir complained, saying Pakistan has played a ‘pivotal role’ in the search for bin Laden.
He claimed the CIA was alerted in 2009 that bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad was suspicious — but it took the Americans to prove the terror chief was there just a few hundred yards from Pakistan’s elite officer training school.
He said: ‘The fact is that this particular location was pointed out by our intelligence quite some time ago to the U.S. intelligence. Of course, they have much more sophisticated equipment to evaluate and to assess.’
Mr Bashir added: ‘I know for sure that we have extended every co-operation to the U.S., including the CIA, as well as to other countries in so far as the campaign against terror is concerned.’
But senior figures in the U.S. rejected that claim.
Dana Rohrbacher, a Republican congressman who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, used to be seen as Pakistan’s best friend in Washington. Yesterday he told the Spectator magazine: ‘I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country. Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder.
‘For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military.
'In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards, drink whisky and look Western they fooled a lot of people.’
U.S. counter-terrorism chief John Brennan also asked the question that was reverberating around the world: 'How did Osama bin Laden stay at that compound for six years or so and be undetected?'
He went on: 'We have many, many questions about this. And I know Pakistani officials do as well.'
Mr Brennan said Pakistani officials were trying to determine 'whether there were individuals within the Pakistani government or military intelligence services who were knowledgeable'.
Today Mr Obama announced that the photos will not be released for fear they would be turned into an icon.
According to the U.S. account, the assault team on the compound in Abbottabad came away with hard drives, DVDs, documents and more that might tip U.S. intelligence to Al Qaeda's operational details and perhaps lead the manhunt to the presumed next-in-command, Ayman Al Zawahri.
'We're moving with great dispatch to mine that' material for insights into terrorist plots that may be in the works and for clues as to the location of senior Al Qaeda officials, said John Brennan today.
One U.S. source said a 'mother lode of intelligence' had been taken from Bin Laden’s compound including computer files, CD-Roms and other electronic information. It is being examined by U.S. intelligence experts at a secret location in Afghanistan.
'They cleaned it out,' said one official. 'Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive? Hundreds of people are going through it now. It’s going to be great even if only 10 per cent of it is actionable.'
Giving further details, Mr Brennan said the aim now was to use the information from the raid to thwart possible ongoing terrorist plots. He added: 'He seemed to be very active inside the compound. We know that he was in contact with some senior Al Qaeda officials.
'So what we’re trying to do now is to understand what he has been involved in over the past several years, exploit whatever information we were able to get at the compound and take that information and continue our efforts to destroy Al Qaeda.
Why can't America get its facts straight?
By Sam Greenhill
The raid on Osama Bin Laden’s lair was filmed on two dozen ‘helmet cams’ worn by commandos, yet the White House has been unable to get its story straight.
Contradictory versions of events were blamed on the ‘great haste’ with which information about Operation Geronimo had been gathered. But the ever-changing story has forced the official spokesman Jay Carney to admit: ‘Even I’m getting confused.’
The changing picture of what happened during the raid has already spawned conspiracy theories that the ‘fog of war’ was a deliberate tactic by the US.
Here, Sam Greenhill examines the claims and discrepancies.
‘Wife was human shield’
The powerful image of bin Laden trying to cheat death by cowering behind his defenceless wife was painted by Obama’s counter-terrorism chief John Brennan.
He stated on Monday: ‘There was a female who was, in fact, in the line of fire. She was positioned in a way that she was being used as a human shield.
'She met her demise and my understanding is that she was one of bin Laden’s wives.’
An unnamed official later added the terror leader had been ‘firing behind’ his youngest wife, 27-year-old Amal Al Sadah.
On Tuesday, this version changed in two significant ways: firstly, the wife did not die, and secondly, he had not used her as a shield.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said: ‘In the room with bin Laden, a woman – bin Laden’s wife – rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg but not killed.’
An even more extraordinary version was put out by the infamous National Enquirer magazine, which claimed that when commandos found bin Laden he was ‘high on heroin’ and ‘blubbering like a baby, crying and c***ing his pants before he was shot’.
‘He was shooting an AK47’
The Al Qaeda kingpin went down in a blaze of bullets as he blasted away on an AK47 rifle as the U.S. commandos closed in, according to the first version of events put out by the White House.
Bin Laden picked up a gun and was ‘engaged in a firefight’, said John Brennan on Monday.
Another official said the terror leader ‘participated’ in a gun battle and was ‘armed with an AK47’, while another said bin Laden had been ‘firing behind’ his wife.
In a separate background briefing, another source claimed: ‘He did resist the assault force. And he was killed in a firefight.’
A massive U-turn was performed on Tuesday, with White House spokesman Jay Carney stating: ‘Bin Laden was not armed.’
However Mr Carney insisted the terror mastermind ‘did resist’. Asked how he had resisted if he was not carrying his AK47, he said: ‘Resistance does not require a firearm’, but refused to elaborate.
‘Commandos wanted to take him alive’
Bin Laden’s daughter’s claim that he was executed after being captured further muddies the already-murky waters.
On Monday, John Brennan insisted the commandos were under orders to capture bin Laden alive, saying: ‘If we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn’t present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that.’
Spokesman Jay Carney added on Tuesday: ‘We were prepared to capture him if that was possible.’ But the Navy Seals killed bin Laden ‘because of the resistance that they met’, said Mr Carney.
‘There was concern that bin Laden would oppose the capture operation and indeed he did resist. There were many other people who were armed in the compound. There was a firefight – it was a highly volatile firefight.’
However, given that bin Laden was not himself armed, no one has explained why the Navy Seals decided to shoot him.
On Tuesday night, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview that bin Laden ‘made some threatening moves’ that ‘represented a clear threat to our guys’.
He added: ‘Under the rules of engagement, if he had in fact thrown up his hands, surrendered, and didn’t appear to be representing any kind of threat, then they were to capture him. But they had full authority to kill him.
‘To be frank, I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything.’ Several US national security officials have privately said there was never any intention to capture bin Laden alive, with one saying: ‘This was a kill operation.’
Retired Navy Seals said if the plan had been to capture, a stealth ground operation would have been used rather than noisy helicopters.
The wrong wife
The death of Bin Laden’s wife was announced by John Brennan, but in fact she had suffered only a wounded leg after being shot in the calf.
Another woman did die, believed to be the wife of bin Laden’s courier Sheikh Abu Ahmed, who was also gunned down along with his brother.
She was ‘killed in crossfire’ on the ground floor as the troops stormed the compound, said the White House on Tuesday.
An official admitted: ‘A different guy’s wife was killed. Two women were shot here. It sounds like their fates were mixed up.’
The wrong son
A White House transcript said it was bin Laden’s youngest son Hamza, 20, who was killed in the raid, but this later changed to another son, Khalid.
The discrepancy could be put down to John Brennan accidentally mixing up the names, or it could be a genuine misidentification on the ground. The mistake has not been clarified.
The faulty helicopter
On the night of the raid, administration officials claimed in a telephone briefing for reporters: ‘We lost one helicopter due to mechanical failure.’ Later in the same call, another official contradicted that: ‘We didn’t say it was mechanical.’ Other reports claimed the Sea Hawk had been shot down, or its rear rotor blade had struck the wall of the compound.
Then yesterday it was claimed that the excessively hot night had caused the machine to suffer a ‘loss of lift’.