17 May 2011

Osama bin Laden: US ‘pressure’ Pakistan for access to family

The US is putting “growing pressure” on Pakistan to allow access to Osama bin Laden’s family, Channel 4 News understands. The request is believed to be under consideration by Pakistani authorities.

The US is putting

Only senior Pakistani intelligence officials, in charge of the interrogation, have access to Osama bin Laden’s family.

Military leaders and government officials are believed to be considering repeated requests by the US to speak to his widows. Channel 4 News also understands that Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s youngest son, was not at the compound when US navy seals killed the al-Qaeda leader.

Senior Pakistani intelligence officials believe Hamza is still alive and has been taken by sympathisers to a safe place. He has, in the past, been tipped to takeover from his father as the head of al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden ‘not prominent in al-Qaeda’

Pakistani intelligence officials said bin Laden had been non-functional for the past couple of years and handed over responsibility of al-Qaeda to the Egyptian physician Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri and other hardcore groups of the terror network.

A Pakistani intelligence source said: “Over the past few years, bin Laden played no prominent role in al-Qaeda and its operations.

“He was one of the main financiers of the terror network in the past but since the fall of Taliban in Afghanistan, he has never been seen playing any significant role.”

This is disputed by the Americans who say video tapes released of the terror leader show he was still actively involved in the organisation.

Pakistani security officials have accused their US counterparts of playing a double game with them, saying in 2010 they shared information with the US about some suspicious activities and the presence of important people in Abbottabad.

Read more: the view from 'Bin Laden Town'

“At that time the Americans worked with us on the basis of our information in Abbottabad, but later told us that it was nothing like what we were looking for.

“Since we did not have modern equipment for surveillance and monitoring, we thought the Americans were no longer following the project.

“In fact they kept us in the dark and installed state-of-the-art equipments for monitoring activities of bin Laden and his family in Abbottabad without even letting their Pakistani counterparts of what’s going on,” a Pakistani security official said.