It was not only Osama Bin Laden that Pakistan was sheltering, it has emerged that country’s notorious spy agency ISI has given safe haven to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the most wanted terrorist in the world.
Claiming that its information is based several authoritative sources, US based media outlet NewsWeeek reported “Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has been protecting al-Zawahiri, a trained surgeon since US forces evicted Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan in late 2001.”
“His most likely location today, they say: Karachi, the teeming port city of 26 million people on the Arabian Sea,” the weekly said.
“This would be a logical place to hide out, where he would feel pretty comfortable that the Americans can’t come and get him.” Bruce Riedel, a 30-year CIA veteran who was the top adviser on South Asia and the Middle East for the past four US presidents, told the magazine.
“There are pretty good indications, including some of the material found in Abbottabad” (the Pakistani garrison town where Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011), “that point in that direction,” he added.
Riedel told the weekly that Karachi would be a “very hard” place for the US to conduct the kind of commando raid that got bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
“If he was in someplace along the border with Afghanistan, I think the temptation would be enormous to go after him. But in Karachi, that would be stunning and very difficult,” Riedel said.
According to the weekly, the US had an unsuccessful drone strike against Al-Zawahiri in January 2016.
But the al-Qaeda chief survived, the weekly said, noting that its information was based on a source from Pakistan who requested anonymity for sharing the information.
“If (Zawahiri) was in someplace along the border with Afghanistan, I think the temptation would be enormous to go after him,” said Riedel, who now heads the Brooking Institution’s Intelligence Project in Washington. “But in Karachi, that would be stunning and very difficult.”