Former US President Barack Obama in his memoir The Promised Land has said there was no question of involving Pakistan in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout because it was an “open secret” that certain elements inside Pakistan’s military, and especially its intelligence services, had close ties with the Taliban and al Qaeda.
In a blow-by-blow account, the former US president disclosed for the first time that the then defence secretary Robert Gates and his former vice president Joe Biden, who is now the President-elect, had opposed the top-secret military operation.
In the book, America’s first Black president described in detail the various options of killing bin Laden once it became clear that the world’s most wanted and elusive terrorist was living in a safe hideout on the outskirts of a Pakistani military cantonment in Abbottabad.
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“Based on what I’d heard, I decided we had enough information to begin developing options for an attack on the compound. While the CIA team continued to work on identifying the Pacer, I asked Tom Donilon and John Brennan to explore what a raid would look like,” Obama writes in his memoir.
Obama further said that the operation was shrouded in complete secrecy as they knew “if even the slightest hint of our lead on bin Laden leaked, we knew our opportunity would be lost.”
Only a handful of people across the entire federal government were read into the planning phase of the operation, he added.
The former US President goes on to write that another constraint they faced was not involving Pakistan.
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While acknowledging Pakistan’s support in its war of terror, Obama said it was an open secret that certain elements inside the country’s military, and especially its intelligence services, maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even al Qaeda, sometimes using them against India.
In the final stages of the operation, two options were on the table. The first was to demolish it with an airstrike while the second one was to authorise a special ops mission, in which a select team would covertly fly into Pakistan via helicopter, raid the compound, and get out before the Pakistani police or military could react.
Despite several risks involved, Obama and his national security team opted for the second option after several rounds of deliberations and intense planning.