Islamabad, Apr 27: Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan's detention for years and was killed after the country struck a deal with the US, a top American journalist has claimed citing new evidence and disputed Islamabad's assertion that it was not aware of the raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader.
Legendary US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh repeated his claim that Pakistan was aware of the Navy Seals' raid that killed bin Laden in 2011 in his his compound in Abbottabad town near Pakistan army's elite training school.
Bin Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, the group that claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks on the United States.
In an interview to Dawn, Hersh said that since last year he had seen new evidence that cemented his belief that the official US account on bin Laden's killing was deceptive. He also reiterated his claim that Pakistan had detained bin Laden in 2006 and kept him prisoner with the backing of Saudi Arabia.
The US and Pakistan then struck a deal that the US would raid his compound but make it look as if Pakistan was unaware. "Pakistan is in constant alert because of India. Their radars are watching, their F-16s are up all the time," said Hersh while arguing that it was not possible for US helicopters to enter Abbottabad without alerting the Pakistanis.
When asked if he still believes Pakistan helped the United States get bin Laden, he said: "More than ever". When Hersh first made this claim in an article published last year, it shook Washington and forced the White House to reject the story as false.
Major US media outlets also rejected his claim as incorrect. But Hersh repeated the claim in his new book, 'The Killing of Osama bin Laden' published this week, insisting that he was right. He said the then army and ISI chiefs had made this deal with the Americans, which upset other Pakistani generals.
"The then head of Pakistan's Air Defence Command was very, very upset. He was ready to go public," said Hersh, claiming that the disgruntled general was made PIA chairman after his retirement to keep him silent.