US did not inform Pakistan on Osama bin Laden raid because of ISI: Hillary Clinton

Written by PTI | Washington | Updated: Jun 10 2014, 19:38pm hrs
The US decided not to inform Pakistan about its top-secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad as it knew that elements in spy agency ISI maintained close ties with the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, according to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In her memoir 'Hard Choices', which hit the book stores today, Clinton says that top US officials, including President Barack Obama and the then Defense Secretary Robert Gates, had detailed discussions on the issue including the possibility of Pakistan using the occasion to launch an attack on India.

But finally it was decided not to inform Pakistan.

"Our relationship with Pakistan, America's nominal ally in the fight against terrorism, was already very troubled. If the Pakistani military, always on a hair trigger out of fear of a surprise attack from India, discovered a secret incursion into their airspace, it was possible they'd respond with force," 66-year-old Clinton writes.

"We had debated whether to inform Pakistan about the raid ahead of time in order to avoid this scenario and the complete breakdown in relations that could follow. After all, as Bob Gates often reminded us, Pakistani cooperation would continue to be needed to resupply our troops in Afghanistan and pursue other terrorists in the border region," she says in the book.

"I had invested considerable time and energy in the Pakistan relationship over the years, and I knew how offended they would be if we did not share this information with them. But I also knew that elements in the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, maintained ties to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and other extremists," Clinton writes.

"We had been burned by leaks before. The risks of blowing the whole operation were just too great," said the former Secretary of State, who is considered as a strong potential presidential candidate for the 2016 elections.

Bin Laden was killed in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, in a covert raid carried out by the Navy SEALs on a special order issued by President Obama.

"At one point another senior administration official asked if we needed to worry about irreparably wounding Pakistani national honor," Clinton writes.

"Maybe it was the pent-up frustration from dealing with too much double-talk and deception from certain quarters in Pakistan, or the still-searing memories of the smoking pile in Lower Manhattan, but there was no way I was going to let the United States miss our best chance at bin Laden since we lost him at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 2001.

"'What about our national honor' I said in exasperation. What about our losses What about going after a man who killed three thousand innocent people" Clinton recalls.

"The road to Abbottabad ran from the mountain passes of Afghanistan through the smoking ruins of our embassies in East Africa and the shattered hull of the USS Cole, through the devastation of 9/11 and the dogged determination of a handful of US intelligence officers who never gave up the hunt," she says.

"The bin Laden operation did not end the threat of terrorism or defeat the hateful ideology that fuels it. That struggle goes on. But it was a signal moment in America's long battle against al-Qaeda," Clinton says.