United States President-elect Joe Biden opposed a US raid that killed Osama bin Laden (OBL) in Pakistan in May 2011, former US president Barack Obama has revealed in his memoir A Promised Land. The memoir was released to select publishers worldwide on Tuesday and contains insights from the first presidential term of Obama between 2008-2012.
According to details of the memoir shared online by book reviewers, Obama also revealed that former Pakistan president Asif Zardari, when informed of the killing of Bin Laden on a phone call by Obama, congratulated the US on the operation. “When I reached him [Zardari], he expressed congratulations and support,” Obama wrote in his book.
“Whatever the fallout, he said, it’s very good news,” Obama further noted. In the book, the former US President also detailed the conversation of US military chief Mike Mullen with former Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kiani over the incident, in which the latter had asked the US to reveal the details of the raid to manage public reactions.
“Mullen had put a call in to Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and while the conversation had been polite, Kayani had requested that we come clean on the raid and its target as quickly as possible in order to help his people manage the reaction of the Pakistani public,” Obama wrote in A Promised Land.
No real revelations in Obama's retelling of the OBL raid, but some interesting details about how the NSC made the decision. Gates and Biden recommended against the raid, images of Desert One still in their minds. Maintains that Mullen did not phone Kayani until after it was over pic.twitter.com/7fNOomP8QP
— Jack Murphy (@JackMurphyRGR) November 17, 2020
Read more: What’s the real story on Osama?
Book release delayed to help Biden politically
In addition to Joe Biden, former US defense secretary Robert Gates also opposed targeting Bin Laden inside Pakistan with US troops, the former US president revealed. Political experts believe that Obama delayed the release of his book until after the US presidential election on November 3 to shield Biden from the impact of the revelations.
Biden and Gates were perhaps apprehensive about alienating a key US ally, since raiding the OBL compound would have meant infringing on Pakistan’s sovereignty, and Obama wrote that he understood these concerns, however, he added that he did not want to miss the chance to take out the Al Qaeda leader, America’s number one enemy.
“Whatever we chose to do in Abbottabad, then, would involve violating the territory of a putative ally in the most egregious way possible, short of war- raising both the diplomatic stakes and the operational complexities,” Obama noted. “Based on what I’d heard, I decided we had enough information to begin developing options for an attack.”
“The need for secrecy added to the challenge; if even the slightest hint of our lead on bin Laden leaked, we knew our opportunity would be lost. As a result, only a handful of people across the entire federal government were read into the planning phase of the operation,” he said.
In debate whether Biden presidency will benefit Pakistan remember that Obama-Biden duo took out Osama from Abbottabad in 2011 & Mullah Akhtar in Balochistan in 2016. How one looks at these is matter of what one thinks national interests are. Remember also Biden then was only VP
— Farhatullah Babar (@FarhatullahB) November 6, 2020
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‘Pakistan cooperated with US on counter-terror ops, troops supply’
In the book, the former US president acknowledged that Pakistan’s government cooperated with the Americans on a host of counter-terrorism operations and provided a vital supply path for US forces in Afghanistan. However, Obama wrote that he decided not to share the information about the raid with Islamabad.
“The fact that the Abbottabad compound was just a few miles from the Pakistan military’s equivalent of West Point only heightened the possibility that anything we told the Pakistanis could end up tipping off our target,” he added.
Obama said he ruled out involving Pakistan in the raid because he believed that certain elements inside Pakistan maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even Al Qaeda.
Pakistan helped find OBL
Last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan, on an official trip to Washington, had said that Pakistan’s main spy agency provided the US with a lead that helped them find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. OBL was shot dead in a night time raid by US special forces on May 2, 2011, an incident that was a major national embarrassment and caused ties between the two countries to plummet.
PM Imran made his claim in an interview with Fox News when he was asked whether his country would release a jailed doctor whose fake immunization drive helped the US track and kill bin Laden in 2011. “This is a very emotive issue, because Shakeel Afridi in Pakistan is considered a spy,” he told host Bret Baier, referring to the doctor.
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“We in Pakistan always felt that we were an ally of the US and if we had been given the information about Osama bin Laden, we should have taken him out.”
GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources