Reprinted from medium.com
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The White House's story of how US special forces hunted down and assassinated arch terrorist Osama bin Laden in his secret lair in Pakistan is unraveling.
The official narrative of the bin Laden raid is that for over a decade, US intelligence hunted for the terror chief until a surveillance/torture-enabled breakthrough tracked him to a secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. On 1st May 2011, US Navy Seals entered the compound and assassinated him in a furious firefight.
The operation demonstrated how far the US military intelligence community had come since the days of 9/11, proving how its disparate agencies had now developed a tremendous capacity to share and process often obscure intelligence data, to guide precision covert counter-terror missions.
After killing bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader was buried at sea. When the raid was officially announced, Pakistan, a key US ally in the fight against al-Qaeda, was incensed at the US operation on its own soil.
According to veteran reporter Seymour Hersh's scoop in the London Review of Books, all this is a convenient fairy-tale. Rather, Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) captured and detained bin Laden in 2006 with the support of another US ally, Saudi Arabia.
Bin Laden's location was brought to the CIA's attention in August 2010, by a former ISI officer and CIA consultant who wanted to claim the reward money. In 2011, the US staged the military intelligence 'raid' on bin Laden's compound with ISI complicity.
There was no firefight. Bin Laden was torn to pieces quickly and easily under rifle-fire, and his remains were thrown out of a helicopter over the Hindu Kush mountains.
Hersh's account has been rejected by some on the grounds that he relies on unverifiable anonymous sources. This investigation conducts a systematic review of open sources and key journalistic reports relevant to the events leading up to the bin Laden raid.
While much corroboration for Hersh's reporting is uncovered, elements of his account and the Official History contradict a wider context of critical revelations disclosed by many other pioneering journalists. When that context is taken into account, a far more disturbing picture emerges.
The geopolitical relationship between the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan played a central role in identifying and locating Osama bin Laden far sooner than officially acknowledged"--"yet nothing was done. The role of a former ISI officer in blowing the whistle on the ISI's protection of bin Laden in August 2010, brought his concealment out into the open and triggered high-level White House discussions on how to resolve the situation: to kill or not to kill?
Declassified documents, official government reports and intelligence officials confirm that since before 9/11, and continuing for the decade after, the US intelligence community was systematically stymied from apprehending Osama bin Laden due to longstanding relationships with Saudi and Pakistani military intelligence.
Despite specific intelligence available to elements of the US intelligence community on bin Laden's location in Pakistan, under the protection of US allies, no action was taken to apprehend bin Laden for years. That failure to act coincided with the launch of an anti-Iran US covert operations programme around 2005, pursued in partnership with Saudi Arabia, to finance Islamist Sunni militants including al-Qaeda affiliated groups.
Bin Laden's assassination in 2011 followed an escalating split within al-Qaeda between the terror chief and his most senior deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Contrary to US claims, bin Laden was positively identified and monitored in the months leading up to the raid, with the assistance of Saudi, Pakistani and Afghan intelligence agencies.
The decision to do so coincided with an extraordinary proposal made to al-Qaeda from British intelligence: to accept a renewed 'covenant of security', whereby Western forces would withdraw from Afghanistan and give al-Qaeda a free-hand, on condition that they refrain from targeting British interests.