Operation Neptune Spear by the US Navy Seals in which Osama Bin Laden was allegedly killed on 2 May 2011 was actually a joint Pakistan-US operation.
A lot of online material is available about the incident and the Pakistan government has also released the Abbottabad Commission’s Report (which is still classified) but the whole episode and its reporting sheds light on the complicity, sensationalism and spin-doctoring by the Western corporate media.
By ‘joint operation’ I mean that the operation was carried out in full coordination with the Pakistani Air Force and ground forces which secured the area around OBL’s alleged compound on the night of the operation.
The Navy Seals allegedly flew from the Jalalabad airbase in Afghanistan in the two ‘modified’ Black Hawk helicopters and landed in OBL’s Abbottabad compound some 90 minutes later.
Prior exercise of Navy Seals
Naturally the flight-path must have been from west-to-east.
A few points to note here:
First, the corporate media spin-doctors implied a quieter stealth helicopter; but no matter what kind of technology we employ a helicopter is a very noisy aircraft,
Secondly, we are not sure whether the Black Hawks actually flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan to Abbottabad, Pakistan because Pakistan had leased several airbases in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to the joint US air-force and CIA drone operations from October 2001 until the Salala incident in November 2011 like the Shamsi Airfield. Bear in mind the OBL operation took place in May 2011.
Assuming that the corporate media’s narrative is correct and that the Black Hawks actually flew from Jalalabad to Abbottabad (west-to-east) in 90 minutes, in that case they had to fly through Pakistan’s most strategic military and air-force installations.
Western public opinion knows very little about Pakistan; it’s a fact that the Af-Pak border region is the lawless wild west of Pakistan; the US forces can fly drones there because it is totally unprotected on the ground as well as in its air-space. This perhaps is the reason why they readily believed the lie which was fed to them about the Osama Bin Laden Operation.
But the area between Attock, Taxila and Abbottabad is Pakistan’s most sensitive and heavily militarized area.
If we take a cursory look at the strategic locations from west-to-east:
First, there is a Pakistan Air force base at Kamra near Attock which is used for manufacturing JF-17 Thunders in collaboration with China.
Second, one of Pakistan’s biggest ordnance factory (POF Wah) which employs over 40,000 personnel is located in Wah cantonment which is only 60 kms south-west of Abbottabad. (see map above)
Third, just opposite to the Wah cantonment is newly built Air Weapons Complex (AWC) which is so sensitive and secretive that even the locals don’t know what kind of ballistic missiles are manufactured there.
Fourth, Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) another military site used for building battle tanks and APCs under the direct supervision of Pakistan Armed Forces;
And last but not the least, the Havelian ammunition depot which is only a stone’s throw away from Abbottabad (16 kms.)
Looking at all this data, if some chopper no matter how ‘modified’ or stealthy it is, passes through the air-space above or anywhere near all these military sites, Pakistan must have the dumbest military strategists in the world to let that happen.
Aside from the aforementioned sites, Pakistan’s military academy Kakul; a Pakistan air-force installation in Kala-bagh, Nathiagali; and many other Pakistan army’s centers are also located in Abbottabad.
In fact the whole city is a garrison town much like Rawalpindi.
For all these reasons, my calculated guess is that the OBL Abbottabad operation was a joint operation between the Pakistan and the US Armed Forces.
No doubt the US should get credit for all the intelligence-gathering which eventually led to Bin Laden’s alleged capture.
But when it comes to the actual military operation, the US could not have done it alone so deep into Pakistan’s territory. Another factor which lends credence to this assumption is the deployment of Pakistan’s army which secured all the roads and areas adjoining Bin Laden’s compound on the night of the operation. It’s a fact that Bin Laden was a high-value target but as was Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and scores of other al Qaeda militants who were apprehended by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and handed over to the US.
The Abbottabad Bin Laden compound, May 5, 2011 (3 days after Operation)
In any case capturing or killing a target is never a big deal, spotting and pin-pointing him is. The US could have just handed over the information about Bin Laden’s exact location to the Pakistani authorities and they would have done the job for them, just like they did on numerous other occasions.
But the Obama Administration and the Democratic party-allied Western press wanted to sensationalize the issue to improve Obama’s ratings just before the US presidential elections. And it did help Obama win a second term by a narrow margin: 4%.
A question might be asked: why did the Pakistani authorities remain silent when they knew all the facts?
They did take some formal steps, like the assertive chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court: Iftikhar Chaudhry constituted an Abottabad Commission whose report is still being kept ‘classified’ by the government. But at the time of the Operation, Pakistan had a weak and pro-US president: Asif Ali Zardari and also a pro-US army chief: Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani; both were good in wheeling-dealing, they must have asked for a lot in return for their role as Obama’s election campaign cheerleaders.
Another question which might be asked is: how did Bin Laden (allegedly) manage to hide in a garrison city without the knowledge of Pakistani intelligence agencies?
First, Abbottabad is a densely-populated city of 1.5 million people. Locating a terrorist in hundreds of thousands of people is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Second, assuming that Bin Laden was the target as contended by Washington, he would have chosen Abbottabad for two reasons:
One, to save himself from an aerial attack by a drone or a ballistic missile;
Two, he knew that due to the sensitivity of Abbottabad and its adjoining area’s air-space and also due to the proximity of the Pakistan military academy only a kilometer away from his compound the air-power could not have been used against him; the Pakistani radars and air-force would not have allowed any drone, missile or air-craft to pass over or near Abbottabad’s air-space.
Moreover, Abbottabad is a hill-station and also a gateway to the Northern Areas of Pakistan which are also very close to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Af-Pak border region. It is one of the most difficult and mountainous terrain in the world which is thickly covered in the Alpine forests. That’s why Abbottabad could have provided an ideal escape-route to FATA and Af-Pak border region in case the eventuality arose.
Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney who blogs at: http://naumanpk.blogspot.com