The mobile phone that was seized from Osama bin Laden’s courier has been revealed to contain contacts to a militant group that’s been long connected to Pakistan’s intelligence agency. This could mean that Pakistan was protecting bin Laden the whole time.
The militant group that Osama had in his phone, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, were in constant talks with Pakistan officials. Though none of those conversations were explicitly about bin Laden, it does raise an interesting question. Did bin Laden get help (and live comfortably while in hiding) from the Pakistan government? The link to Harakat is important because it is deeply entrenched in the area that bin Laden was living. The New York Times reports:
Harakat has especially deep roots in the area around Abbottabad, and the network provided by the group would have enhanced Bin Laden’s ability to live and function in Pakistan, analysts familiar with the group said. Its leaders have strong ties with both Al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence, and they can roam widely because they are Pakistanis, something the foreigners who make up Al Qaeda’s ranks cannot do.
To the Harakat’s credit, they’ve said they had nothing to do with bin Laden, telling the BBC, “Al-Qaeda had their own discipline, their own thinking, their own organisation. We have never ever been in touch with Osama.” It feels like somebody isn’t telling us something. [NY Times, BBC]