Saudi Arabia/Pakistan/USA: Death of Usama bin Laden – An Analysis, Part I

  President Barak Obama announced during breaking news on 01 May 2011 that Usama bin Laden was killed during a special operation undertaken by US forces at a secured “compound” in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  The news quickly reverberated to all corners of the world that the number one ranking terrorist and head of Al Qaida was gone.

After almost ten years of evading U.S. intelligence and military forces Usama bin Laden was found a mere 45 minute drive away from Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad.  One may be able to understand that there would be great difficulties to unearth Usama bin Laden if he had been given refuge in Pakistan’s Northern Area of the FATA (Federally Administrated Tribal Area) where tribal law was the rule.  Yet to learn instead that he had been given refuge in Abbottabad is a hard pill to swallow.

I’ve been to Abbottabad.  It is a small town which is home to the Pakistan Army’s Military Academy.  The town of Abbottabad survives and flourishes because of the presence of the Academy.  It is a town run by and run to support the Army.  Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff is usually a graduate of the Military Academy as well as many who held the position of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Pakistan’s former President, Pervez Musharraf, was a graduate of the Military Academy.  If the Pakistan Army has a strong presence and overall control in a given area of the country, that area is secure.  The Pakistan Army –and- its intelligence service will know who belongs, who does not belong, who is simply visiting and what properties belong to or occupied by whom. Unlike the structure in the United States where the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Department are two separate entities, Pakistan’s equivalent to the CIA, the Interservices Intelligence Directorate (ISID) is an entity commanded by a senior-most officer from within the Pakistan Army.

Therefore this begs the question, how did Pakistan allies in the highest offices of the government, intelligence service or army not know that Usama bin Laden was harbored in Abbottabad?

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari was probably not the preferred choice among Pakistan Army or ISID officials.  In addition to being his country’s President, Asif Ali Zardari also is Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Collecting intelligence on plans and strategies of the PPP, seen as a rival or threat to Pakistan, is a known the directive of the ISID. Pakistan has a history of military rule and military coups among its leadership.  With this background in mind, it could be plausible that President Zardari did not know of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. However, I find it implausible that there were not those either within Pakistan’s Army or ISID who did not know or at least strongly suspect bin Laden was in Abbottabad.

The compound where bin Laden lived was about 750 yards away from the Pakistan Military Academy.  That would be considered prime real estate for Abbottabad.  Whoever owned such a property would likely have strong ties to Pakistan’s Army.

Finding Usama bin Laden in Pakistan has both political and economical ramifications on the relationship between the two countries.  Since 2002 the United States has provided Pakistan with an estimated US$11.7 billion in military aid and an additional US$6.08 billion in economic aid. Perhaps these facts reinforce that loyalties can not be bought?


51 Responses

  1. Good to read your analysis, Carol! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing your observations. Any reasonable observer would have to assume that those in power knew who was in that compound. One wonders why the US has gotten into a war in a region where it has few allies and no real interests. (Of course after medding for 30 years we have created real on the ground enemies, but we never had to go there at all.)

  3. There is a lot about this story that does not make any sense. To be honest, I’m not sure what bits of the story to believe.

  4. I will rip my own face off if I hear about ANY more money being given to Pakistan for this ‘War on Terror’. Especially when we could really use that money so we don’t have to lay off police and teachers and other very essential people right HERE at home.

  5. pakistan is not a partner on the war on terror because it cant accomplish much. how did they get nukes, and why the heck would we give them billions of dollars for any reason. After living in the middle east, you learn quickly nothing gets done, or its bribery or who you know.. Usama didnt have many places to go, it was obvious he was somewhere in pakistan… I just think the word cooperation between the usa and pakistan is a joke, you cant take a govt with a brain to work with a govt that has no backbone or brain, Pakistan is a haven for extremists with the classic middle east mentality.. America once again had to take care of business it seems…

  6. @Strangeone,
    I don’t understand- what doesn’t make sense in this story? It seems pretty straightforward.

  7. Although Usama Bin ladin is dead, I am not relieved. Before his death, I thought Pakistan had a very strong intelligiance services cooperating with the US. Trust for me here has been violated.
    I wonder how a foreign country would feel if their ‘most wanted’ was founded near the CIA.( Langley hdqs). The US would be all over the news…
    There ought to be further investigations as well as we exploring who our friends are.

  8. Lynn…

    When I read your comment, I laughed out loud because that sums up exactly how I feel… especially since it is abundantly clear it is NOT being used for the war on terror.

  9. Mistah bin Laden, he dead! So what?

    Not in a cave in Tora Bora. But In a mansion in a Pakistani military cantonment, outside Islamabad. A mansion custom built to hide something of extreme significance.

    Whose mansion? Who put him up there? How long was he there? How did he get there? Who knew that he was there? The Pakistani government, its military, and its intelligence services need to come clean.

    Mistah bin Laden has gone to the great bordello in the sky that awaits every good jihadi, via fishies in the arabian sea. Inna Lillah hey va inna allahay rajayoon.

    But in reality, while the death of bin Laden is fine news, and is certainly a psychological blow to the jihadis and a confidence-booster for us Americans and our allies in the West, it really won’t change anything. Nada. Zilch.

    Now tell me that the Pakistani government wasn’t shielding him. I expect also that they allowed this operation to be carried out, and maybe even offered up bin Laden after all these years, in order to shore up their anti-terror bona fides and keep the jizya worth billions of dollars flowing from us.

    I suggest that we stop all financial aid to Pakistan, which has been doing taquia in the war on terror for the last ten years. Lest we forget 9/11, Mumbai, Abbotabad!

    Osama bin Laden has gone to claim his 72 virgins or 72 white raisins, and while that is fine news, it really won’t change anything. The role of al-Qaeda in the global jihad, and the role of Osama bin Laden in al-Qaeda, have both been wildly overstated.

    Al-Qaeda is not the only Islamic jihad group or supremacist group operating today, and Osama bin Laden was not some charismatic leader, whose movement will collapse without him. The gross exaggeration of his role, in fact, was a result of the general unwillingness on our part to face the reality that the global jihad is a movement driven by and rooted in an ideology, not an outsized personality.

    Since 9/11, many mainstream muslim leaders have claimed that Osama bin Laden is not a genuine Muslim nor a Muslim leader in the “truest” spirit of Islam. Then why the same muslim leaders are in a lather over as to how he was buried at sea? If he doesn’t represent “true” Islam as a leader, then pray tell why would Muslims continue to do jihad? Such stupidity has no precedent. Indeed!

    So Osama bin Laden, after years of silence punctuated by mysterious gnomic utterances delivered (how? by whom?) to the media, finally joins Generalissimo Franco and Herr Hitler in the ranks of the still dead. I will forthwith hoist a suitably haram beverage in toast of the happy news. And then it will be back to business. The jihad will go on, and so will I, and so, I hope, will all of you.

  10. “good riddance to bad rubbish” – that’s all i can offer up..
    i somehow doubt pakistan didn’t know about the operation, It does not take 45 min to scramble jets when your airspace is violated !!!! even if the pakistani military is incompetant.
    So i’m assuming they knew something was going down, just not that osma was the target. i’m sure US would not risk going into another countries soveriegn airspace without some permission…

    Either way he’s gone and is going to be mightily pissed off when he gets 72 grapes 🙂

  11. @Harry Guggen,

    I think your analysis of the death of Bin Laden is wrong on multiple levels. Here are some specifics:

    – Bin Laden Has no Charisma: Are you serious. The man is the symbol for Jihadist. He was a superstar in that world. His style of presenting and living, stroke a cord with these groups. Charisma is not always about giving fiery speeches.

    – Bin Laden Killing does not matter: are you Kidding (again): 1) there is a huge boost to the confidence of an entire nation (of 300 Million people), who is coming off a few years of bad economy. 2) There is a political gain for Obama to execute on the exit strategy from Afghanistan without complex political fights. This will be a huge budget savings to the US. The US will be able to clean up its engagement in the region and reset it to its proper place, where we do not control the entire country, rather maintain bases from which we can launch operations against enemy organizations. 3) I do not think you get Pakistan’s complexity. The military and intelligence of the country have been acting independently from the elected government. The fact that Osama was found hiding in the country (undoubtedly with knowledge of Intelligence) is a political issue that can be exploited by both the US and the Pakistani government to put more pressure on the military to become more transparent.
    – Al Qaeda role: You also do not understand the impact of Al Qaeda. Terrorism has been with us for a long time. However, Al Qaeda was able to create a new type of terror, where they executed operations at a massive scale. This is not your average taking of hostages of the old days. It was planed strikes with the ability to kill thousands, create wars and impact the global economy. Taking down Al Qaeda was an important goal and finally killing its leader, who was the only possible link to unite its fragmented parts, is the final nail in the coffin of the terror organization that at one point had the global capability to execute large scale operations.


  12. Salaam alaikhoum. I too agree with susanne430’s comment. One hears only what the media wish one to hear under normal circumstances, but when one obviously has the “insider” knowledge of things from the time that you were part of the “diplomatic corps” when you were married to abdullah, it makes for much more interesting reading. Maasalaama, Amelia

  13. DR. RADHA: “It does not take 45 min to scramble jets when your airspace is violated !!!! even if the pakistani military is incompetent.”

    Dr. Radha,

    You are exactly right about the incompetence of pakistan military. There is not an iota of doubt that it is grossly incompetent.

    While the general populace languishes in poverty and lack of education, over half of that nation’s budget goes towards the military. Land of the Pure has lost four wars to Hindustan over kashmere since 1947. It is in the pakistani constitution that the public or the civilian govt cannot criticize the military but at the pain of being hanged or beheaded.

    Pakistan’s only claim to fame is that of possessing an islamic atomic bomb. Which, by the way, is not homegrown, but stolen by AQ Kahn from Holland using the infamous taquia.

    I wish india would put pakistan out of its misery forever. As it did in bangladesh in 1971, I think it is time for india to foment and support independence movements in baloochistan, northwest province, and synd. Let the pakis keep punjab and let them rot from within.

    As for the islamic bomb, if we can successfully get bin laden’s dead body out of abbotabad with a military academy within walking distance of bin laden mansion, I am sure that india and united states working together, we can deactivate the islamic bomb. IMHO.

  14. All the more reason to cut off their funding and keep our money at home!

  15. One of the areas where I am having issues wrapping my mind around this situation is when you read the blogs of some other people there seems to be a lot of sympathy for Bin Laden and animosity toward the USA for killing him. Not Muslims either, but westerners. I can’t understand why anyone would be upset about that. This man wreaked havoc all over the world. I heard an estimate that he had a direct hand in killing 15,000 people and more than half of them were Muslims. This guy waged war on everyone…even his fellow Muslims who he declared infidel if they didn’t fit into his idea of Muslim. Why are there any tears among those who would supposedly not sympathize with the jihadis? I can understand those who liked him and thought he was a symbol of their ambition, but I have seen this tone on more than one blog too….

    I can’t figure out what there is to be sad about. If it breaks Al Qaeda like MoQ indicates then maybe everyone, Muslims included, can have a more peaceful life and not be blown to bits just because….

    If they are 99% sure it is him through face recognition and DNA testing where is the doubt? If DNA is enough to convict a person or make a man pay child support for kids proven to be his, why is it not good enough for Bin Laden…even Al Qaeda said it was him. Why would 99% positive bother anyone? They need 100%? I’ve heard some say we should play “fair”. Well that is nice but if no one else is playing fair how in the world can one expect to catch him? Should it just go on ad infinitum? Don’t we want all of this to be over?

    I just am left shaking my head as to why the heck any western blogs would cry tears for him.

  16. I don’t know about crying tears – I’m not ….. but ….. 99% is not 100% and there will always be that doubt the right man was killed because of the water burial (if in fact that happened).

  17. OBY: “One of the areas where I am having issues wrapping my mind around this situation is when you read the blogs of some other people there seems to be a lot of sympathy for Bin Laden and animosity toward the USA for killing him. Not Muslims either, but westerners.”

    Yes, I have seen and heard the same. And yes, there are a few westerners, like useful idiots like Noam Chomsky, who are deeply grieving and have gone into deep depression over Osama’s demise.

    In most hearts and minds in the west, Osama’s death is undoubtedly significant. On the other hand, Osama bin Laden was wildly popular in the Islamic world. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Osama t-shirts, hats, and even dolls and action figures sold briskly in many Muslim countries, belying the mainstream media myth that 9/11 was the action of a tiny minority of extremists that had twisted and hijacked Islam, and were duly despised by the vast majority of Muslims. Polls all over the Islamic world always showed a healthy amount of support for bin Laden and, above all, respect for him as a pious mujahid.

    And sad thing is that mostly in the muslim world, it is rife with conspiracy theories about Osama’s demise. Ranging from that he died in the caves of tora bora in late 2001 to that he died in 2003 due to his diabetes and lack of medical care. In recent opinion polls in pakistan and middle east, three-fourths of the populace believes that he is still alive. When confronted with the fact that Osama made audios and videos as late as recently, the usual idiotic response one gets is that “these were doctored by CIA”. Go figure ….

    Even if President Obama had authorized the publication of the pictures of dead Osama’s body, naysayers will be out there in full force questioning the authenticity of those photographs. These are same folks who still believe 9/11 didn’t happen and that lunar landing was staged in the Arizona dessert. It is a no-win situation with these conspiracy theorists …..

  18. @Wendy,

    The initial DNA test accuracy is actually better than 99.9%, with the combination of the imaging identification which has an accuracy of 95%, what you have is a 99.995% accuracy. Further DNA testing can actually add an additional five 9’s to the right of the decimal point. The 4 hr DNA testing compares to only a small sample of relatives and is less accurate (at only 99.9%) than more complex testing requiring weeks of lab work.

    Yes, scientists never claim 100% results, because they are honest about objective measures. However, DNA matching as evidence is actually more accurate than visual identification of witnesses. Such results will move deniers in the space of conspiracy theorists. Which will always happen no matter what proves you get. Fox news and radical right wing radio shows will definitely keep planting such seeds 🙂

  19. @harry

    Yes i wish pakistan would resolve it’s issues, however i’m no fan of india getting involved inthat countries affairs. I know they’ve won wars, but i have had family fighting inthose wars and i’m a wimp, i’d much rather give kashmir to pakistan and be done with that!!!!
    India in my opinion should focus on growth, education etc., it’s a much more vibrant economy and much more tolerant.. pakistan is an almost failed state and given enough rope will sooner or later hang themselves… without any help. just my 2 cents, i wish they would keep their jihadis to themselves and not try destabilize neighbours..

    so even though i’m no fan of theirs i’d much rather let them live, be friends if possible or at the v least ignore them and they let india live in peace …

  20. there is no such thing as 100% scientifically.
    DNA proof is it!!!

    as for conspiracy theories.. ah jobless people seeking to justify their ideals..

  21. Radha…

    I have often thought the same thing about Kashmir. Is it really worth all the fighting? But then I worry that they will feel emboldened and take it to the extreme..such as Delhi was once ruled by a Muslim king therefore Delhi belongs to them too. Sounds crazy to a rational mind but these guys are not rational.

  22. @oby – i agree.
    Kashmir holds a special place in my heart we went there on our honeymoon and spent 10 fantastic days there..
    I’ve always wanted to go there again andshow my kids paradise but .. not worth getting blown up. Plus with the tensions there a inter-religious family like ours is asking for trouble 🙂 Inthe 80’s it was much better , beautiful and will always hold a soft spot for me…waking up in misty dal lake in a houseboat to steaming hot kahwah… ahhh yesssss truly paradise..

    it’s not like pakistan is going to develop kashmir if given to them and make it a great place, i’d say give it to them I wonder what else will they fight about after that 🙂 they’ll be at a loss.

  23. I think Obama is not anymore worth of the Nobel of Peace prize.He has put himself to the same level with the terrorists.

  24. @zahra – cause he gave orders to kill a terrorist ..ehh???
    and then what .. just revoke the prize from him and Arafat, Peres, rabin,gorbachev,Kissinger, Brechin etc., etc.,

  25. What kills me is that some muslims think OBL is a good person..considering the bs that he was fighting for the Islamic Nation and blah blah blah, and actually are morning his death…

    But he built a huge complex and spent so much money on luxury in an extremely poor muslim country, he’d actually would have saved some face if he really did live in a cave and gave all his wealth to the people who suffered from the floods or something.

    He’s an insult to muslims and he for sure destroyed how muslims are viewed in the world 😦

  26. Actually, Confused, I think that those who support him by thinking that he is/was a great person/Muslim are the ones that are MORE of an insult to Muslims than even he was.

  27. @Radha & Oby

    I don’t think India and the rest of the world would have to worry about Pakistan and Kashmere too much longer. In about 5-10 years, India is going to be the undisputed super power of asia (if it is not already), both economically and militarily.

    Kashmere will become a non-issue, a moot issue for all practical purposes. Pakistan will become a non-entity just like Taiwan, which no one hears about much these days. If our brave navy seals can get a dead Osama to USS Carl Vinson in about 40 minutes from a mansion located within a military cantonment, I have full faith in our brave navy seals that they can disable pakistani nuclear facilities in no more than couple of hours.

    From reading online pakistani english newspapers, I get the feeling that it is splitting at its seams. It is self-destructing itself. It is self-immolating itself. There are active independence movements going on in Baloochistan (right next to Iran), northwest province, and Synd. In about 5-10 years, there will be four STANS …. baloochistan, pathanistan, syndistan, poonjabistan/pakistan. Pakistan as we know it will be no more. I also read in the same newspapers that general pakistani populace is really depressed about the recent happenings related to Osama, in addition to dissatisfaction with extreme poverty and corruption.

    They are beginning to question the competence of its own military which was impotent during the recent american operation, in the midst of a military cantonment right next to a military academy. They are also re-visiting the humiliating defeat of pakistani military by the indians in the last four wars; especially losing half their country in 1971. Pakistani parliament has set up a committee to investigate military’s incompetence. General Khani, pakistan’s commander in chief, is not going to tolerate any one blaming the military or exposing its incompetence.

    All the political parties are talking about a Long March protest soon from Karachi to Abbotabad to show their displeasure with military’s incompetence; similar to what ousted Generalismo Mosharaf. I believe General Khani is going to use that planned long march and the parliamentary investigation as the overt/covert excuse to stage a coup d’etat. If that happens, it will be fifth military takeover in its 64 year history; military has ruled for far more years than the civilian governments in Pakistan.

    On a lighter note, here is a Wizard of Oz video called Ding Dong – the witch is dead, set to the tune of “Dead Man & The Sea”:

  28. @Harry Guggen,

    I am not sure what web sites you read to get your information as you have been throwing around very wild ideas such as:

    “In about 5-10 years, India is going to be the undisputed super power of asia (if it is not already), both economically and militarily.”

    Have you heard of a small country called China, which is a neighbor of India in Asia. If you look up this minor country you will find that its economy is almost 4 times as large as India and its military is the 3rd strongest militarily in the world by all measures.

    So how do you think India is going to close this gap.

    I am sorry to keep pointing these gaps in your facts, but you have been writing long comments with all kinds of wild ideas in this blog. I really think you have started getting facts from strange web sites without any care to check facts and the analysis they provide you. You then come to this blog and build your wild cases of possible wars, break up of countries, etc. This is where radicalism starts…..


  29. Time to bring home those billions of dollars to be used here. The Midwest (where I live and grew up) is facing devastation from flooding and the South faced horrific tragedy due to the tornado (and so did my town of Saint Louis)…our infrastructure is in need of help and the economy is flaying. I am also appalled at Pakistan. They HAD to have known what was going on. Played us like a fine tuned instrument. Well, take away all that money and see what happens. We need it HERE.

  30. I am really glad that attention is being brought back to the US & North American soil. I hope that with OBL caught, the US can focus on its issues back home, like making border towns safer, helping Mexico fight the drug cartel related violence (a “win-win” for both US and Mexico) ,and all the rebuilding that needs to happen following the flooding/tornadoes/etc. damage across the US.

    I found it a little odd that he was so close to the military academy in Pakistan, and yet no one in US intelligence seemed to be aware of it and able to catch him until recently? But maybe the government is just slow sometimes.

    I really appreciate hearing (or reading, rather) your POV on the situation. It makes the story make more sense.

  31. @Oby,
    Some of the “sympathy” I’ve encountered involving OBL seems to center around a couple things. Primarily that they don’t believe he was behind the 9-11 attacks. There are people both east and west that believe any number of conspiracy theories. They tend to conveniently forget- that 9-11 aside, he killed plenty of other people- especially Muslims (not that that matters to me- but I throw it in). Something I’ve been pointing out a lot lately. Some people just have issue with killing anyone, but they are generally consistant about that and I understand their view though I don’t agree.

  32. Sandy, good comment.

    I think all those millions the US give to Pakistan is bribe money to keep the from using ”the bomb”. And they will keep on giving it despite of this clear proof of betrayal by the Pakistani government.

  33. Aafke, In that case, do you know of an emoticon for ‘ripping my own face off’?

  34. Scary times for me as my daughter (and grandbaby) still has 2 more months to go of their 4 month visit in Pakistan. I guess I could use that ‘ripping my face off’ emoticon right now actually.

  35. […] with the American Bedu analysis and discussion about Usama bin Laden, today’s post is focused on Afghanistan. When four American airliners were hijacked on 01 […]

  36. Thanks StrangeOne…

  37. Thanks Sandy…

    I appreciate your explanation. I get the conspiracy theory thing…and in general I think that if at all possible killing should be avoided, but in some situations such as OBL I think it might not be a bad thing. No matter what happened there would always be someone who had a problem with the way OBL was handled. I think that had he been taken alive he could have been used for blackmail purposes…someone threatening a dirty bomb or some other thing unless he is released, for example.

    I do understand the pacifist route…to a degree. I guess for me personally, he had such a wide ranging field of people he considered enemies and actively pursued with no end in sight perhaps putting a full stop to it was the best course of action…

  38. Lynn, no.

  39. I notice that so many use the abbreviations OBL to refer to Usama bin Laden. He should be referred to as UBL for there are no O’s in Usama. Again, non-Arab speakers and western media mangle the pronunciation of the name.

    The US relationship with Pakistan has always been a complicated relationship. Pakistan has traditionally over the years yielded to requests of the USA as early as allowing the US to launch U2 spy flights from Pakistan during the Soviet War with Afghanistan. Yet when a mission has been accomplished, the US pulls out and sometimes pulls out abruptly from Pakistan. Therefore it is not surprising that Pakistan chooses to take what the US has offered or given but there has not been a motivation on the part of Pakistan for loyalty.

    Although not Pakistan, the book/movie ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is a good example of how the US does not complete a mission to fruition which yields greater benefits than a short term gain.

    I do not intend nor is it my wish to sound anti US for I am not but just trying to give additional perspectives and views.

  40. Osama, Usama. Umar, Omar, Hadith, Hadeeth, Mohammed, Muhammad, Koran, Quran, Q’uran here we go again! 😉

  41. The Joy of Spelling….
    My favorite subject….

  42. but in this case my point is not spelling but knowing the correct arabic pronunciations so then spelling is not an issue!

  43. Do you find it odd that his own son, Omar (not Umar) in his book calls him Osama?

  44. Was not aware of that and yes, I do find it odd.

  45. I think on Twitter the hashtag was OBL. I’ve always spelled it with an O, but seen it with the U. Didn’t think it mattered for the very reasons others gave several days ago about Arabic to English spellings. 🙂

    But thanks for the tip, Carol!

    Re: the book’s (mis)spelling. Maybe it was Jean Sasson’s fault!

  46. I can’t check it now, but I seem to remember that Carmen bin Laden also spelled it O-sama in her book….

  47. And, she and her daughters started to spell their surname differently on purpose after 9-11, because of the horrible connotations that name now carries. Like for example ”Hitler”, nobody wants that surname….

  48. I Googled Osama bin Laden and it was SURE I wanted Osama! LOL But then I did find a few links to Usama and guess what they were from? FOX News! LOL Perhaps because of the new Saudi owner?

  49. Personally, I think the “O” version of Osama has been used by some from the Arab world when they purposely want to get a message to the Western world!

  50. What kind of message to the Western world?

    I just remembered I have a Syrian Facebook friend who spells his name Osama.

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