Raelynn Hillhouse, an American security analyst, has a new theory about how Osama bin Laden was able to escape detection while hiding in the same town as Pakistan’s military academy: the Pakistani government was protecting him, and Saudi Arabia was paying them to do it.
Hillhouse writes on her blog that the currently accepted account of the discovery of bin Laden’s whereabouts—a years-long American effort to find his courier finally yielded fruit—is a cover story. She says that an officer in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency approached the U.S. with information about bin Laden’s whereabouts in exchange for the $25 million bounty and U.S. citizenship for his family.
After confirming bin Laden’s presence in the Abbottabad compound, Hillhouse writes, U.S. officials
“approached the chiefs of the Pakistani military and the ISI. The US was going to come in with or without them. The CIA offered them a deal they couldn’t refuse: they would double what the Saudis were paying them to keep bin Laden if they cooperated with the US. Or they could refuse the deal and live with the consequences: the Saudis would stop paying and there would be the international embarrassment…
“The ISI and Pakistani military were cooperating with the US on the raid.
“The cooperation was why there were no troops in Abbottabad. They were all pulled out. It had always seemed very far-fetched to me that a helicopter could crash and later be destroyed in an area with such high military concentration without the Pakistanis noticing.”
And, as Rob Crilly of the Telegraph notes, some residents of Abbottabad claimed they had received visits the night before the raid from mysterious people asking them to remain inside with the lights off.
Hillhouse, whose credibility we cannot vouch for, also has an interesting spin on the story, which appeared in Nicholas Schmidle’s widely-read New Yorker report from last week, that U.S. special forces had to blow through a gate protecting bin Laden in the event of an assault on the compound.
Rather than keeping the U.S. troops out, Hillhouse alleges, the gate was intended to keep bin Laden in. She says that the Saudi regime, on whom bin Laden has declared jihad, paid Pakistan not only to protect bin Laden, but essentially to keep him under house arrest and to monitor his operations. Corroborating this new idea is the fact, part of the U.S. administration’s official story, that bin Laden was seen by U.S. spies walking around the compound in the full light of day, but never venturing outside its walls.
Hillhouse wonders whether Pakistan ever passed to the U.S. any information it may have received through its monitoring of the bin Laden compound. If it did, it is not inconceivable that the U.S. knew of bin Laden’s location long before it claims to have learned about it by tracking his courier.