How did President Zardari & Gen Kayani respond to OBL raid, Obama reveals shocking secrets in new book

“A Promised Land” gives a behind-the-scenes account of how the top US officials planned the Abbotabad operation by American commandos that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist in 2011.

06:24 PM | 18 Nov, 2020
How did President Zardari & Gen Kayani respond to OBL raid, Obama reveals shocking secrets in new book

NEW YORK – Former US president Barack Obama, in his latest memoir, has provided stunning insights into the overt and covert ‘Osama bin Laden raid’, besides accounting reactions of the then civil and military heads of Pakistan on it.

“A Promised Land” penned by Obama hit the stands globally on Tuesday. It gives a blow-by-blow account of the raid by American commandos without involving Pakistan, killing the world’s most wanted terrorist on May 2, 2011 inside his compound in the garrison city of Abottabad.

“Very good news”

Following the successful operation, Obama wrote that he made several telephone calls inside and outside the country. He had expected that his toughest call to be that with then Pakistan president, who was for sure facing backlash from public over US operation inside Pakistani territory.

"I expected my most difficult call to be with Pakistan's beleaguered president, Asif Ali Zardari, who would surely face a backlash at home over our violation of Pakistani sovereignty. When I reached him, however, he expressed congratulations and support. ''Whatever the fallout,'' he said, ''it's very good news."

Obama praising Zardari wrote, "He showed genuine emotion, recalling how his wife, Benazir Bhutto, had been killed by extremists with reported ties to al-Qaeda".

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Mullen’s call to Kayani

Obama also revealed that the former chairman of joint chief of Staff, Mike Mullen, had called to then Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

"Mike Mullen had put a call in to Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and while the conversation had been polite, Kayani had requested that we come clean on the raid and its target as quickly as possible in order to help his people manage the reaction of the Pakistani public," he wrote.

Why Pakistan was not involved?

The former US president also provided details about why he had denied involving Pakistan in the raid at Osama bin Laden's huge compound. Obama said he ruled out involving Pakistan in the raid because it was an "open secret" that certain elements inside Pakistan's military, and its intelligence agencies, had links to the Taliban and perhaps even al-Qaeda. He added that involving Islamabad could end up tipping off the target. 

"We had one other constraint: Whatever option we chose could not involve the Pakistanis," Obama wrote.

"Although Pakistan's government cooperated with us on a host of counterterrorism operations and provided a vital supply path for our forces in Afghanistan, 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 as strategic assets to ensure that the Afghan government remained weak and unable to align itself with Pakistan's number one rival, India," he revealed.

"The fact that the Abbottabad compound was just a few miles from the Pakistan military's equivalent of West Point only heightened the possibility that anything we told the Pakistanis could end up tipping off our target.

"Whatever we chose to do in Abbottabad, then, would involve violating the territory of a putative ally in the most egregious way possible, short of war- raising both the diplomatic stakes and the operational complexities," he added.

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Options on the table

The former US president said that various options to eliminate the most wanted person in the world were discussed once it became clear that OBL hiding in a compound in Abbottabad.

Obama also wrote, "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.”

In the final stages, he said that there were being considered two options. The first was to demolish the compound with an air strike. The second option was to send a team of special troops for top secret operation into Pakistan covertly vial helicopter to kill the target.

He revealed that he and his national security team decided to go with the second options. 

Obama said that the top secret operation was opposed by the then defence secretary Robert Gates and his former vice president Joe Biden, who is now the President-elect.

"Gates recommended against a raid, although he was open to considering the strike option," the former president of the US said.

"Joe also weighed in against the raid, arguing that given the enormous consequences of failure, I should defer any decision until the intelligence community was more certain that bin Laden was in the compound.

"As had been true in every major decision I'd made as president, I appreciated Joe's willingness to buck the prevailing mood and ask tough questions, often in the interest of giving me the space I needed for my own internal deliberations," Obama wrote.

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Laden, the chief of al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks in New York, was killed in a covert raid by a US Navy SEAL team at his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan in 2011.