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'Bin Laden was protected by Pakistan'
Tue, 03 May 2011 12:20:01 GMT
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Pressure is mounting on Pakistan to explain how Osama Bin Laden had managed to hide out in a compound near a Pakistani military camp for several years.

In an interview with Jeff Steinberg, Press TV discusses the issue more.

Press TV: The US has not given enough information about how it killed Osama bin Laden. What is your observation?

Steinberg: Well, first of all the intelligence that led to the locating of Osama bin Laden fairly has been a big develop since August 2010. There was actually quite a good deal of information that come out at least in the United States and some of the major news networks and statements from the administration officials who spoke to several contacts at the Pentagon today who told me that the raid was originally planned for Saturday, but there were weather problems and so was postponed a day, but there were quite a lot of top military brass at the Pentagon throughout the day on Sunday.

So it was known that something big was happening and presumably with whole series of visits to Washington by general Pasha, the head of ISI and frequent visits by admiral Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs in Pakistan, rather intense back and forth public arguments between US and Pakistani officials in recent weeks, the arrest and release of an eventual CIA contractor named Davis back a month ago, there were things obviously building up. I'm also told that someone in Pakistan alerted the United States of the fact that bin Laden was preparing to move to another location probably across the border in an area of Afghanistan controlled by one of the original Afghan Mujahidin who was employed by the US in Britain in order to drive the Soviet out of Afghanistan way back in 1980s.

So there is a much more complex picture here, clearly as your news account just mentioned. There is a lot of explaining to do with terms of Pakistani factions of the military, protecting and securing bin Laden's hiding there in Pakistan. But none of this is really shocking news. This has been known as frequent topic of discussion around Washington DC.

So I think what's new in the picture is the fact that they raided the compound, based on the studies that has been done by the US joint special operations command of many passed successful and many passed failed such raids.

Press TV: What do you make of the fact that new pictures have been released of the body of bin Laden?

Steinberg: Well of course that raises a lot of questions. The argument that comes out of the US which is a bit hard to believe is that Osama bin Laden was flown to Bagram Air Base where they made a firm DNA identification and that the body was washed in traditional Islamic ceremony and then dropped at sea so there would be no possibility of a kind which would become a worship site to further support al-Qaeda's mission. But again I think that there is very good reason to question the story so a lot more is going to come out in next few days.

Press TV: The United States says Pakistan has to prove that it did not know bin Laden was living in that country. That's while Pakistanis say bin Laden had declared war on Pakistan somehow trying to evade the responsibility imposed by the US on it. What do you think it would come ahead for Pakistan?

Steinberg: Well I think that probably as the story unfold and that as we get closer to the truth as it posed to the sort of public relations cover story that came out today, boost President Obama's sagging popularity. Look everybody knew that Osama bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan. Al-Qaeda and Taliban have officers with practically, publicly known addresses and that was no secret that the ISI and other factions of the Pakistani military were backing this and this was not secret. That enormous amount of Saudi money was supporting these operations including al-Qaeda.

There is a whole history behind rapprochement arranged by Prince Turki bin Faisal with Osama bin Laden back in the late 1990s [in which Osama bin Laden accepts] that he would drop the targeting of Saudi Arabia. So there was no question that there was Pakistani protection and I suspect that bin Laden became a liability as more and more friction develop between the US and the Pakistanis.

Press TV: You spoke about the fact that the death of Osama bin Laden during the Obama administration will indeed improve Obama sagging public approval ratings. If you look at it this way, it would also boost a moral in the hearts and minds of the people and build trust in the US administration. Of course some predict that this will give more leeway to the US administration to continue its policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Steinberg: That's certainly going to be an attempt. I have serious doubts about that whether we are going to get the Status of Forces agreement with the Maliki government in Iraq. I think we may see the US forces withdraw almost completely from Iraq by the end of the year and of course the frictions between the US and (Afghan President Hamed) Karzai have also been building in intensity. The appointment of Ryan Crocker to Afghanistan as ambassador is clearly an attempt to repay those damaged relations because general Petraeus was not exactly on firmly terms with Karzai and so it may very well be that it serves President Obama's reelection strategy to substantially draw down the American forces in Afghanistan and we are not welcoming them anyway. And to basically use the murder of bin Laden as the pretext to say we can pack up and go home more rapidly than we did before.

Press TV:Osama bin Laden comes from very influential bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia. Does the US expect any reaction from the Saudi government?

Steinberg: No I think on this issue there is already a great friction between the US and the Saudis over the situations in Yemen, Bahrain and Egypt and Libya. So I don't think any way they want the relationship gets much worse. It's very embarrassing that the bin Laden family is a prominent and politically powerful Saudi family. Of course President Bush flew out half the bin Laden family from the United States days after the 9/11 attacks because it was such a sensitive issue. I don't think either side is going to revisit that embarrassment again.

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