Osama bin Laden was able to live undetected for more than nine years because of the incompetence and negligence of Pakistani intelligence officials, according to a leaked official report into his killing.
A 336-page report compiled by a Pakistani commission investigating bin Laden's death two years ago was published on Monday by news organization Al Jazeera. In addition to revealing incompetence at almost every level of Pakistan's security apparatus, the report criticized Pakistani leadership for failing to detect CIA operations in the run-up to bin Laden's killing.
After a decade-long hunt, the al Qaeda founder was shot dead by US Navy SEALs during a May 2, 2011 raid. Bin Laden had been living in a heavily fortified compound within sight of an elite Pakistani military academy in the city of Abbottabad.
The raid, which the report said was conducted in an "illegal manner," angered Pakistani officials because they were not informed about it beforehand and strained ties between Islamabad and Washington. "The US acted like a criminal thug," the report said.
'Negligence and incompetence'
"But above all, the tragedy refers to the comprehensive failure of Pakistan to detect the presence of OBL [Osama bin Laden] on its territory for almost a decade or to discern the direction of US policy towards Pakistan that culminated in the avoidable humiliation of the people of Pakistan," said the report.
Officials at all levels of government, including the army and intelligence service, were criticized by the report. "To summarize, negligence and incompetence to a greater or lesser degree at almost all levels of government are clear."
However no evidence that current or former Pakistani officials aided bin Laden in avoiding detection was found, according to the report.
"Although the possibility of some degree of connivance inside or outside the government cannot be entirely discounted, no individual can be identified as guilty of connivance," it said.
The report said it was especially surprising that no Pakistani officials discovered bin Laden while he was living in Abottabad because his compound was "hardly normal" – it was isolated from homes around it, had very high walls and was protected by barbed wire.
"The extent of the incompetence, to put it mildly, was astounding, if not unbelievable," the report said.
Insights into life
The commission, which consisted of a Supreme Court judge, a retired army officer and a career diplomat, based the report on interviews with 201 witnesses, including members of bin Laden's family and various government, army and intelligence officials.
The report offers an insight into bin Laden's life after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan. He arrived in Pakistan in the spring or summer of 2002, staying in the northwestern border districts of Swat and Haripur, before moving to the Abbottabad compound with his family in August 2005.
"They kept a very low profile and lived extremely frugally. They never exposed themselves to public view. They had minimum security," the report said, adding that bin Laden "minimized any 'signature' of his presence" and never accepted visitors, "not even trusted al Qaeda members."
dr/ccp (AP, Reuters, AFP)