Seized bin Laden cellphone provides possible link to Pakistani spy agency
A cellphone used by Osama bin Laden's courier contained contacts for commanders in a Pakistani militant group that has long been mentored by Pakistan's spy agency.
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Even so, Pakistan's need for economic aid, status as a nuclear power, vulnerability to militants and interests in Afghanistan provide incentives for both nations to work through current disputes.Skip to next paragraph
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"This is a long-term, frustrating, frankly sometimes very outraging kind of experience," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about dealing with Pakistan in an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations committee yesterday. "And yet, I don't see any alternative, if you look at vital American national interests."
According to the Times, discovering the link to Harakat answers a lot of basic questions about how bin Laden ended up in Abbottabad and how he could remain there safely for so long. The group has "deep roots" around the town and an extensive network in the country, which includes ties to both Al Qaeda and ISI. The fact that they are native Pakistanis gives them more freedom of movement than Al Qaeda's foreign militants.
Harakat is one of a host of militant groups set up in the 1980s and early ’90s with the approval and assistance of Pakistan’s premier spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, to fight as proxies in Afghanistan, initially against the Soviets, or against India in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Like many groups, it has splintered and renamed itself over the years, and because of their overlapping nature, other groups could have been involved in supporting Bin Laden, too, officials and analysts said. But Harakat, they said, has been a favored tool of the ISI.
Harakat “is one of the oldest and closest allies of Al Qaeda, and they are very, very close to the ISI,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and the author of “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad.”
Separately, US officials disclosed that one of the letters obtained from the bin Laden compound reveals that bin Laden thought Al Qaeda had an image problem. He wanted to rebrand the terrorist group by giving it a new name, the Associated Press reported.
The problem with the name was the lack of religious elements. Without a religious connotation in the name Al Qaeda, the US was able to claim that it was not at war with Islam and it was harder to convince Muslims that they were fighting a holy war, bin Laden reasoned.
The documents portray bin Laden as a terrorist chief executive, struggling to sell holy war for a company in crisis.