Bin Laden played host to Taliban leaders, Arab fundraisers
Osama Bin Laden played host to Taliban leaders and wealthy supporters while he was living in his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.
In reporting this, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph said that this was the first revelation that the Al Qaeda leader was not wholly reliant on couriers for communication purposes and that he had direct contact with his followers.
The news comes as US officials comb through evidence retrieved from the compound in the US Navy Seals operation that killed Bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2.
The Telegraph report also mentions British intelligence officers who joined their US counterparts in sifting through the material, which contained references to possible attacks on Britain.
An Afghan leader of the Taliban said he had visited Bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound. He said other members of Al Qaeda met with Bin Laden too, as did Taliban allies and Arab fundraisers.
Since the Al Qaeda leader was killed two weeks ago, US officials are learning that Bin Laden seemed actively involved in the operations of the terror organization. His communication techniques were thought to be limited to using computer thumb drives to relay messages.
When the Taliban commander met Bin Laden two years in Abbottabad, the Telegraph quotes him as saying that the Al Qaeda leader was well “but concerned about his safety and money.”
Bin Laden said he had to meet leaders because so many in the top brass had been captured or killed.
“He said he had no choice but to be active and meet people, despite the security risks,” the Taliban leader is quoted as saying by the Telegraph. “He was meeting with other top Al Qaeda leaders who could get access to Abbottabad without endangering their safety.”
The report will once again put into the spotlight how Bin Laden lived in Pakistan without being detected by Pakistani authorities.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied any knowledge of Bin Laden’s existence and ordered an inquiry into the US raid that killed him on May 2.
Pakistan’s intelligence officials have withdrawn their cooperation to their American counterparts in protest of the US operation that killed Bin Laden. Bilateral relations between the two countries seem to be at their nadir. Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arrived in Pakistan to discuss the situation with the country’s leader.
There are new fears of potential attacks on Western cities—especially in the face of Al Qaeda and its allies vowing the avenge their leader’s death.
Last Friday, 80 people died in Charsadda, Pakistan in the first suicide attack carried out to avenge Bin Laden’s death.
(Muna Khan of Al Arabiya can be reached at: [email protected])