The May 1 commando strike in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama Bin Laden demonstrated one thing conclusively: that the United States cannot rely on Pakistan to deal with the al Qaeda threat. We don’t know for sure yet if the Pakistani intelligence service, or ISI, was clueless or actively complicit in hiding the most wanted man in the world, who was living a mile down the road from the Kakul military academy, the country’s West Point. In either case the ISI is not a reliable or effective counterterrorist partner.
Now the evidence is growing that at least some part of the ISI and the Pakistani army was, in fact, actively complicit in hiding Bin Laden for the past five years. The evidence laid out Friday in The New York Times and based on cell phones found in the hideout is not a smoking gun, but it is very suggestive. Bin Laden was in regular contact with the Harakat ul Mujahedin terror group, which the ISI created in the 1980s to fight India. The Harakat ul Mujahedin has loyally worked with the ISI for decades, and its members hijacked an Indian airliner in 1999 with al Qaeda and the ISI. Fazlur Rehman Khalil, head of Harakat ul Mujahedin, lives openly in an Islamabad suburb.
If Harakat helped Bin Laden, it is not hard to imagine that someone in the ISI knew that the world’s most wanted terrorist was been hidden somewhere inside Pakistan.