The New York Times is among the most popular newspapers in the world. So when it carries a cover story titled, “What Do We Really Know about Osama bin Laden’s Death?”, people take attention.
It is kind of strange though as we know quite a bit about Laden’s death. Three books have been written on this, one of them by U.S. Navy SEALs who was on the raid, and two top CIA officials who led the hunt for the al Qaeda’s leader. There have also been many news articles on the operation.
But of course, anything more on Laden’s death would be of great interest to the American public and others around the world. In the end however, Jonathan Mahler, the Times reporter, adds little more value in his 7000 word piece. He however says, “the story of bin Laden’s death, is floating somewhere between fact and mythology”. That can well be true though, if we are to believe Seymour Hersh’s story in the London Review. Here, Hersh challenges the official story of Laden’s death.
Seymour says that the 2011 raid on the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was hiding was not an intense firefight involving 23 SEALs. Pakistani officials simply handed over bin Laden to the SEALs for execution. The only shots fired that night were the ones the SEALs fired to kill bin Laden.
He also says that Pakistan’s military had been holding bin Laden prisoner for many years. An informant simply walked into the US Embassy in Islamabad and tipped off the CIA about Laden’s presence in the compound. So the CIA never traced Laden’s courier to the compound as was claimed. A Pakistani army doctor got further proof by obtaining DNA samples from Laden. This proof was provided to the US.
Seymour also says that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI, not knowing about the US raid in advance was the “most blatant lie”.
If we are to believe Hersh’s story, then of course, it would mean President Barack Obama and his top advisors lied about pretty much everything on the how bin Laden was killed.