DUBAI — Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told an Arab satellite TV on Monday he knew of the US raid which killed Osama bin Laden only 15 minutes after its launch but had no idea of the target.
“I was made aware of the operation 15 minutes after it started,” the minister told Al-Arabiya channel in an interview, but he was unaware of the target.
Helicopter-borne US commandos carried out a raid lasting less than 40 minutes, killed bin Laden and took away his body from a mansion near a Pakistani military facility outside Islamabad on May 2.
Malik stressed there was “permanent cooperation in the security field” between Islamabad and Washington, despite US concerns about the reliability of their key ally in the “war on terror.”
US President Barack Obama has pressed Pakistan to probe how bin Laden managed to live for years under the noses of its military, saying he must have had some kind of support network.
Under mounting pressure from both Washington and his own people, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was to brief his country’s parliament on Monday on the US operation amid calls for his resignation.
The White House is also calling on Islamabad to counter growing mistrust by allowing US investigators access to three of bin Laden’s widows who are in Pakistani custody and could have vital information on Al-Qaeda.
During interrogation, bin Laden’s youngest wife, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, a 29-year-old Yemeni, reportedly told Pakistani investigators that her husband had lived in their Abbottabad house, near Islamabad, for five years.
“We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan,” Obama told the CBS television show “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
“But we don’t know who or what that support network was. We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.”
Senior US officials have said they have no proof Islamabad was aware of bin Laden’s hideout.
Al-Qaeda formally acknowledged bin Laden’s killing four days after the US raid on his Abbottabad compound, about two hour’s drive from Islamabad, and urged Pakistani militants to act against Americans.
“(We call upon Pakistanis) to rise up strongly and in general to cleanse their country (Pakistan) from the filth of the Americans who spread corruption in it,” Al-Qaeda said in a statement on Friday.
Releasing what is said to be the al-Qaeda leader’s final recording made a week before his death, an Islamist website reported bin Laden warning Americans there will be no US security until the Palestinians live in security.
Addressing Obama, he reportedly said: “America will not be able to dream of security until we live in security in Palestine. It is unfair that you live in peace while our brothers in Gaza live in insecurity.”
The audio tape made no reference to Pakistan or Arab uprisings although jihadists Internet forums had said bin Laden’s final recording would have a message for the “Arab Spring.”
A wave of uprisings in Arab countries have already seen the toppling of former presidents of Tunisia and Egypt as it continues to grip nations such as Syria and Libya.
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