A new book raises questions about bin Laden’s death
A new book written by a former US Navy SEALs commander, Chuck Pfarrer, has brought up some new details and questions about the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 1 of this year.
Pfarrer, who refers to several US Navy SEALs who were involved in the military operation on bin Laden’s compound in May, contradicts official statements that say the al-Qaeda leader was executed following a 45-minute firefight. In his 225-page book, “SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden,” released on Nov. 8 by the New York-based St Martin’s Press, Pfarrer writes that bin Laden was dead within 90 seconds of the beginning of the raid, not after an extended firefight. Pfarrer also claimed that the SEALs entered the compound from the third floor after descending from a helicopter on the roof, not from the ground, as the initial official reports indicated.
The initial reports also said that one of the helicopters crashed before the raid, but Pfarrer says that a helicopter did crash, but it was right after the mission had been completed.
Another allegation was that bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed. But Pfarrer writes: “He was not carrying it; however, it was lying by the headboard. When he saw the SEALs, he lunged to grab it.” One of the most significant allegations in Pfarrer’s book is that even though Pfarrer doesn’t reveal his sources, he claims that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second man of al-Qaeda at the time, used Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti to make repeated trips to bin Laden’s compound. Pfarrer claims that al-Zawahiri knew that Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was interrogated by the CIA and based on this information, he concludes that it was al-Zawahiri who led the CIA to bin Laden’s hiding compound in Abbottabad. The book also claims that al-Zawahiri once tried to convince the Russians to kill bin Laden but the Russians rejected the offer. He then thought that Addison’s disease, which is a rare, chronic endocrine disorder, would kill bin Laden. But it did not happen, either. According to the book, al-Zawahiri’s final card was to send a courier to communicate with Osama, “which inevitably caused the CIA to kill him,” Pfarrer wrote.
As mentioned before, the book does not provide adequate information on the sources of these allegations about al-Zawahiri, the man behind bin Laden who actually urged him to wage Jihad against the West. Was there any power struggle between the two? We have no measurable data to make this analysis yet. What we know is that starting from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, there was something that resonated between the two. Was there any conflict between the two, especially regarding the recent developments following the Arab Spring? What the Arab Spring indicated is that the people where these uprisings have emerged are not asking for Shariah, but for more freedom and democracy. Was there any contradiction or divergence between the two about how to react to the Arab Spring?
We don’t know yet. Pfarrer writes that bin Laden was planning to exclude al-Zawahiri from the new organizational structure of al-Qaeda.
If that claim were true, what could be the reason for bin Laden’s desire to get rid of al-Zawahiri? The writer of the book does not provide enough information about that, but we also may remember that one of al-Zawahiri’s most trusted men was in fact a double agent, named Ali Mohamed according to Lawrence Wright, an accomplished journalist and the author of the book “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.”
In his well-known article titled “The Man Behind bin Laden,” which appeared in The New Yorker on Sept. 16, 2002, Lawrence wrote:
“Fluent in English, French and German, as well as Arabic, Mohamed held both Egyptian and American citizenship. From 1986 to 1989, he served in the US Army as a supply sergeant at the Special Warfare School, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was commended for his exceptional physical fitness. In 1984, Mohamed approached the CIA in Cairo, and after that meeting the agency sent him to Germany. There he made contact with a Hezbollah cell, but apparently he boasted of his CIA connection, and the agency cut him loose. He then began his association with Islamic Jihad. In 1989, he instructed a group of Islamic militants in Brooklyn in basic combat techniques; four years later, some of these militants bombed the World Trade Center. The same year, Mohamed talked to an FBI agent in California and provided American intelligence with its first inside look at al-Qaeda; inexplicably, that interview never found its way to the FBI investigators in New York. In 1994, he travelled to Khartoum to train bin Laden’s bodyguards.”
But is this information enough to think that al-Zawahiri had planned to kill bin Laden? I guess not.
I actually think that what Pfarrer aims to do is to understate the role of the CIA and complicate the 2012 presidential race. What the book wants the reader to think is that killing bin Laden was actually the success of the SEALs mission and not of the president and CIA. This, I guess, is why Pfarrer creates his own story about the CIA’s role in locating bin Laden’s compound: It was not the CIA’s success but al-Zawahiri’s own plan and desire to kill bin Laden.
Is this fair?
*Aydoğan Vatandaş is an investigative reporter based in NY. (This article was published on 27th Nov. 2011)
Kematian seoarang tokoh militant umpama Usamah Bin Laden bukannya dapat dihurai dengan mudah : berita kematiannya merupakan umpan yang mahu dimanafaatkan oleh beberapa pihak berkepentingan. Versi cerita menjelang kematiannya tentu akan mempunyai jalan-jalan yang berbeza.
Bagaimana pula peranan al-Zawahiri selepas kematian Bin Laden?. Apakah tuduhan yang al-Zawahiri juga mempunyai 'peranan' dalam perancangan serangan ke atas Usamah juga akan mempuyai beberapa 'plot' yang berbeza-beza?. Ada yang menerima yang al-Zawahiri terslibat dalam plot pembunuhan ini, terutama dilihat dari latar belakangnya sebelum ini di Masir. Atau kerana otak sebahagian kita telah tercorak oleh 'logik Hollywood' tentang peranan orang dalam dalam satu- satu episod seumpama ini.
Seakan-akan tokoh pejuang itu dibiarkan hidup selama kuasa besar mahukan dia hidup, wataknya dimatikan apabila kematiannya dikehendaki oleh kuasa yang sama. Sungguh menakutkan seumpama kita sedang membaca novel-novel tulisan Dan Brown, semuanya penuh dengan conspiracy, penuh teka-teki yang mengelirukan.
Ya Allah perlihatkan kepada kami kebenaran sebagai kebenaran, serta rezkikan kami agar dapat menghayatinya, serta perlihatkan kepada kami kebatilan sebagai kebatilan, serta rezkikan kami agar dapat menjauhinya.