Sat, 18 Feb 2012 09:48:57 GMT

ISI employed architect for bin Laden compound: report

Washington, Feb 18 (PTI) An architect regularly employed by the ISI worked on the compound in which Osama bin Laden sheltered for years in Abbottabad and the slain al Qaeda chief communicated regularly with LeT from his hideout, a media report said today.

Though the original property records for the compound near the elite Pakistan Military Academy have disappeared, the architect who worked on the structure was regularly employed by the ISI, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius quoted an intelligence source as saying.

The architect reportedly was told that a "highly placed VIP" was coming to the compound, Ignatius wrote in a column posted on the daily''s website.

Though materials taken from the compound after bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces in May last year did not show direct links with top Pakistani officials, US analysts "have found evidence that the al Qaeda chief communicated" with Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, and with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Ignatious wrote.

"The ISI is thought to monitor both groups closely; how did the messages slip through the net?" he questioned.

The columnist said any probe on bin Laden''s presence in Pakistan should focus on several issues, including how the al Qaeda chief came to Abbottabad in 2005 and what Pakistani officials knew about his whereabouts.

Current army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was ISI chief at the time, but the "dominant figure was President Pervez Musharraf, the former army chief", the columnist wrote.

The commander of the PMA at Abbottabad from 2006 was Lt Gen Nadeem Taj, who succeeded Kayani as head of the ISI in 2007.

Ignatius referred to former ISI chief Gen Ziauddin Butt''s claim that the Abbottabad compound was used by Intelligence Bureau and noted that a report in the Pakistani press in December had quoted Butt as saying that bin Laden''s stay at Abbottabad was arranged by Brig Ijaz Shah, head of the Intelligence Bureau during 2004-08, on Musharraf''s orders.

He further referred to the rumour that bin Laden was suffering from kidney failure and required dialysis and said this canard was "repeated for years, notably by Musharraf".

CIA analysts were dubious and no dialysis machines were found at Abbottabad.

"So was this a deliberate piece of misinformation? And what about bin Laden''s claim in November 2001 to Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir that he had nuclear and chemical weapons? Was that a Pakistan-facilitated attempt to promote what bin Laden called his ''deterrent'' against a US reprisal attack?" he wrote. .

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