Seymour Hersh alleges Pak complicity in Osama bin Laden's killing

Veteran American journalist Seymour M Hersh has claimed that the CIA's mission of hunting down Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan's Hindu Khush mountains was a pre-arranged operation to gain publicity for President Barrack Obama.

Osama bin LadenHersh has authored a piece The Killing of Osama bin Laden in the London Review of Books claiming that the official version on how the CIA got information on the Al Qaeda chief's hideout was a lie and that the US actually got information about bin Laden only after a retired Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer chose to betray the Al Qaeda chief.

In return the Pakistani intelligence officer got a reward of $25 million, some of which he shared  with the doctor treating the ailing Osama, according to Hersh.

Osama bin Laden was a prisoner of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006, and, according to Hersh, the then Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and head of ISI Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha also knew of the US Navy Seals' raid and allowed the two helicopters carrying the Seals to cross Pakistani airspace undisturbed.

"In August 2010, a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA's station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001," Hersh wrote in his piece The Killing of Osama bin Laden.

Hersh, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist, who is credited with exposing the My Lai Massacre in 1969 and its cover-up during the Vietnam War and on the ill-treated of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison, in his 2004 report, says that while President Obama ordered Osama's neutralisation, the theory that it was all-American affair was completely cooked up.

"The most blatant lie was that Pakistan's two most senior military leaders - General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI - were never informed of the US mission," Hersh wrote.

The general public in Pakistan, however, were unaware that US knew about where Laden was hiding.

"The walk-in had told the US that bin Laden had lived undetected from 2001 to 2006 with some of his wives and children in the Hindu Kush mountains, and that 'the ISI got to him by paying some of the local tribal people to betray him," Hersh wrote.

The former ISI officer also informed the CIA that a Pakistani Army doctor Major Amir Aziz was stationed near Osama's safe haven in Abbottabad to ensure regular check-up and treatment for the ailing Al Qaeda chief.

The US  also managed to take the then Pakistan Army chief General Kayani and ISI-head Lt Gen Pasha into confidence in order to move ahead with the mission.

Meanwhile, the military doctor who was treating Osama helped the CIA obtain DNA sample to confirm Osama's identity.

All these gave President Obama the confidence to order the Navy Seals operation, says Hersh, adding that the only problems that cropped up were only logistical in nature.