A secret Pakistani report leaked online Monday provides a series of stunning revelations about the life and death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, the long-time Al-Qaeda leader responsible for the 9/11 attacks against the United States in 2001.
The report, placed online by the Al Jazeera news network, recounts the testimony of more than 200 witnesses including bin Laden’s family members.
On one occasion during 2002 or 2003, bin Laden was almost caught while headed to a market with his security guard Ibrahim al-Kuwaiti and the guard’s wife Maryam. The car he was riding in – it’s unclear who was driving – was pulled over for speeding, but bin Laden ‘quickly settled the matter,’ according to Maryam’s testimony, and the al-Qaeda leader was once again off and running.
One of bin Laden’s relatives said ‘The Shaikh,’ as he was known, often ‘wore a cowboy hat to avoid detection from above’ by overhead U.S. drones, and that ‘a complete collapse of local governance’ allowed him to hide inside the country for six years before U.S. President Barack Obama gave the order to have him killed in a Navy SEAL raid.
That ‘kill mission,’ Pakistan’s official inquiry declared, was ‘a criminal act of murder which was condemned by a number of international lawyers and human rights organizations.’
‘Due process was deliberately denied the victims,’ the commissioners wrote – referring to bin Laden as a victim – ‘and their killing was explicitly ordered by the President of the US.’
Among the dozen of new details in the report is the revelation that bin Laden and his supporters waited to build an unauthorized third story on the compound until after a devastating earthquake hit Pakistan in 2005.
Of the raid itself, the commission wrote that bin Laden and his youngest wife Amal were together in the bedroom when the U.S. helicopters first arrived.
‘After the evening meal and prayer,’ the account reads, ‘Amal and the Shaikh retired for the night. Shortly past midnight, they were awakened by the noise of what at first sounded like a storm.’
It wasn’t a cloudburst. Minutes later, bin Laden lay dead on the floor.
The report also explores the case of Dr. Shakeel Afridi, a Pakistani physician who used his position as a public health vaccination volunteer to attempt to be admitted into bin Laden’s compound.
Although he failed to get in, Afridi got a good enough look at the complex system of locks on the front door to help the Navy SEALs design a specialized package of explosives designed to blow the door off.
He also provided his CIA handlers with crucial information about the voices of the people inside the compound.
Aftridi ‘met with the CIA operatives [assigned to him] on more than 25 occasions,’ the report concludes, ‘and received approximately Rs. [Rupees] 10 million from them.
10 million Pakistani Rupees is equal to about $100,000.
The Pakistani government arrested Afridi and he remains in prison, sentenced to more than three decades behind bars. Despite the doctor’s key role in the mission’s success, the United States has done little to secure his release.
‘[T]he fact is that he was arrested 3 weeks after the raid during which time the CIA could have ferreted him out of the country.’
Al Jazeera’s release of the commission’s report came on the same day the United States government was exposed for going to great lengths to hide its own collection of information related to the 2011 raid.
The Associated Press gained access to information from the Department of Defense under the Freedom Of Information Act, but only after the Pentagon acknowledged shifting documents to the CIA and purging them from their original files, so it would no longer possess anything it would have to turn over to the news agency.