ISLAMABAD: The Abbottabad Commission Report, which is yet to be made public, contains a treasure trove of information on the hunt for the world’s most wanted man – Osama Bin Laden.
Its findings reveal that the arrest of Khalid Bin Attash (an Al Qaeda member who was involved in the pre-9/11 attacks such as on USS Cole and the embassies in Africa) in ‘2002’ from Karachi led to the first major breakthrough – he is the one who identified Abu Ahmed Ali Kuwaiti (the Kuwaiti born Pakistani who was OBL’s right hand man and courier and the man who led the Americans to Bin Laden.
After this information came to light, the Kuwaiti intelligence service was contacted but it could not provide any details about the man.
During the search for this man, CIA provided four phone numbers between “2009 to Nov 2010” to Pakistan but without any details as to who they were searching for, a source privy to the report’s details has told Dawn.
Dawn has learnt that these numbers “most of the time remained off” but while the ISI kept the CIA in the loop it did so “without knowing the context and to whom these numbers belonged”.
Now in retrospect, the commission report confirms Attash’s disclosure – Kuwaiti was OBL’s right hand man.
According to what the commission has discovered, he was with OBL’s family in Karachi when it moved to the port city in Oct/Nov 2001.
In 2002, when the family (including OBL’s wives) moved to Peshawar, Kuwaiti was with them and this is where OBL joined them – in mid-2002.
From here they moved to Swat where OBL was visited by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.
A month later, KSM was arrested in Rawalpindi, prompting the scared OBL family to move to Haripur.
Kuwaiti and his brother Ibrar (who had joined the fugitives in Swat) were with OBL and they all stayed in Haripur till 2005.
And it is here that the move to Abbottabad was planned and executed by Kuwaiti. He is the one who purchased a plot in Abbottabad by using a fake identity card and also supervised the construction of the house, which says a source was custom built.
It contained three complexes. “One open compound, an annexe where Kuwaiti and his family lived and the main three storey house,” said the source, adding that the two top storeys were used by OBL and his family.
The youngest wife stayed on the second floor while the older wives – Sharifa and Khaira – stayed on the lower floor.
Ibrar and his wife lived on the ground floor.
The source explained that the house was built so that the children of Ibrar could not see OBL.
The commission has been told that OBL never had a phone line, an internet or cable connection either in Swat, Haripur or Abbottabad though a dish was used to watch Al Jazeera in more than one city that the families stayed in.
Dawn has learnt that the commission has pointed out the violations committed by the residents of the Abbottabad House which remained unchecked by the authorities at the local level.
For instance, it has noted that a manual ID card was used to purchase land even though a computerised CNIC had been made mandatory in 2004 by Nadra – “the manual NIC was accepted by the Revenue Department, Cantonment Board and others,” said the source, adding that the identities and the addresses were never verified.
He also said that the third floor was built in violation of the building plan and once again no authority intervened.
In addition, the commission has noted that “the fort type construction remained unnoticed by cantonment board, police, intelligence agencies and the locals. The occupants also remained unchecked for non-payment of property tax since 2005”.
When the compound in Abbottabad was stormed by the Navy Seals in the middle of the night, OBL’s first reaction was to tell his family to stay calm and recite the kalima.
When the Seals reached Laden’s room, he is said to have a weapon in his hand and was searching for a grenade on a shelf — he was shot as he turned around, the source has told Dawn. It was at this point that Amal and OBL’s daughter Summaya rushed at the men to stop them, leading to Amal’s bullet injury. Summaya and Kuwaiti’s wife were asked to identify OBL after which the rest of the inhabitants of the house were told by the Seals that Laden had been killed.
Last but not least, Dawn has learnt that the commission has given recommendations to the government that are aimed at averting another May 2 like operation.
It was not possible to find out whether or not the report has investigated and/or made any recommendations to prevent fugitives such as OBL from hiding in Pakistan. Neither is it clear whether or not the commission has held anyone responsible for the presence of OBL in the country or the May raid by the Americans.
The recommendations that Dawn has learnt about are focused on checking American activity in the country and averting operations by outside forces by suggesting that the role of the post of chairman joint chiefs of staff committee be enhanced for more effective coordination between the armed forces. It has also recommended strengthening the National Security Council so that it can take immediate steps as the commission has noted that certain high government functionary could not be contacted during operation.
The commission has also recommended a probe over the issuance of visas to a large number of US contractors who established a spy network within Pakistan.