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The Fog Of War

Conflicting accounts of the Abbottabad raid have emerged in the past few days. A riveting account by Nick Schmidle in last week’s New Yorker follows the same story as the one given by American officials to the media after the raid. In this account,

C.I.A. analysts believed that they had pinpointed bin Laden’s courier, a man in his early thirties named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Kuwaiti drove a white S.U.V. whose spare-tire cover was emblazoned with an image of a white rhino. The C.I.A. began tracking the vehicle. One day, a satellite captured images of the S.U.V. pulling into a large concrete compound in Abbottabad. Agents…used aerial surveillance to keep watch on the compound, which consisted of a three-story main house, a guesthouse, and a few outbuildings…Kuwaiti and his brother came and went, but another man, living on the third floor, never left. When this third individual did venture outside, he stayed behind the compound’s walls. Some analysts speculated that the third man was bin Laden, and the agency dubbed him the Pacer.

But is this really what happened? Rob Crilly believes he has the real story in the Telegraph. He cites Raelynn Hillhouse, an American security analyst, who says:

“My sources tell me that the informant claimed that the Saudis were paying off the Pakistani military and intelligence (ISI) to essentially shelter and keep bin Laden under house arrest in Abbottabad, a city with such a high concentration of military that I’m told there’s no equivalent in the US.”

After confirming bin Laden’s presence in the military town, the US approached Pakistan’s military leaders securing their co-operation in return for cash and a chance to avoid public humiliation, according to Dr Hillhouse’s account.

We may not know for years what happened in the months leading up to that fateful night in Abbottabad. Conspiracy theories will flourish, the documents are classified and the main parties involved have every motive to keep the story dark. The serious news reader will recognize that the truth may never emerge, accept the uncertainty and move on.

The guy is dead; we got him; the Pakistanis aren’t happy.

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