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Pakistan shielded Al Qaeda leader for years: minister

Pakistan shielded Al Qaeda leader for years: minister

May 03, 2011 - 18:40

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The worldinfo-icon's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden, was protected by the Pakistaninfo-icon Army and its powerful spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISIinfo-icon), the Afghan interior minister alleged on Tuesday.

Bismillah Mohammadi said tracking down and killing the Al Qaeda leader in a compound a few hundred yards from the prestigious Kakul Military Academy suggested that Pakistani forces shielded him for the last 10 years.

"It makes clear that Osama was protected by the ISI," Mohammad told Meshrano Jirgainfo-icon members. The minister said the international community should realise the roots of terrorism were across the border in Pakistan.

He also briefed senators on security in the country and hoped the situation would improve with the capacity-building of Afghan security forces.

On last month's jailbreak in Kandahar, the minister said 18 prison and security officials had been arrested for conniving at the escape, and that the detainees were being questioned. However, he refused to give further details.

More than 450 prisoners, including insurgent commanders, managed to flee through a 560-metre tunnel on April 25.The fighters dug the underground passage from a house in the Sarpuza neighbourhood of the provincial capital to a cell of political prisoners.

Senior officials said on Sunday that foreign spy agencies were involved in the jailbreak, which they called a result of negligence on the part of jail officials.

Mohammadi said arresting violence needed full cooperation and close liaison between the people and security forces.

Mohammadi, Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and National Directorate of Security (NDSinfo-icon) deputy head Hesamuddin Khan were summoned to brief senators on the security situation.

Wardak said the death of Osama bin Laden would not have a sudden impact on the country's security situation, but in the long run, it would lead to improved conditions. He said actual terrorist hideouts, which were not inside Afghanistaninfo-icon, should be targeted.

The minister said the security situation had improved in the country compared to the previous years, with 40 percent of the war being fought in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

Wardak blamed the international community for not paying adequate attention to training and equipping Afghan forces during the first eight years of the war on terror.

The NDS official said conditions in other prisons were also not satisfactory and Kandahar-like incidents could also take place in other parts of the country.

Senator Dr. Zalmay Zabuli accused the interior ministry of striping Pakhtun generals of their positions. But Mohammadi insisted he did not support people of a particular ethnicity.

Another senator from central Daikundi province, Najibullah Hussaini, said Afghan forces had failed to provide security for the people celebrating the Mujahideeninfo-icon Victory Day.


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