Pakistan’s Military Rejects Phone Report on Bin Laden’s Links

Posted June 24th, 2011 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's military has rejected a U.S. media report that says a cell phone found during the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan contained contacts to a militant group that has “strong ties” to Pakistan's intelligence agency.

A military spokesman called The New York Times news report Friday part of a “smear campaign” against Pakistan's security forces.

He said Pakistan and its security forces have suffered the most at the hands of al-Qaida. The spokesman said his country's actions against al-Qaida “speak louder than the words of the Times.”

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, The New York Times said the discovery of the phone indicated that the group, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, was part of bin Laden's support network within Pakistan.

The report said the cell phone belonged to bin Laden's “trusted courier” who was killed along with the al-Qaida leader in the May 2 raid by Navy Seals on bin Laden's compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad.

The New York Times said U.S. analysts have determined that Harkat commanders had called Pakistani intelligence officials, but there was no “smoking gun” proving Pakistan's spy agency had a role in protecting bin Laden.

One U.S. official is quoted as saying the phone was “a serious lead” in determining how bin Laden was able to live for years in a town dominated by the Pakistani military.

Also Saturday, U.S. officials said a letter also found at bin-Laden's compound showed the terrorist leader was worried about the group's image.

The letter showed bin-Laden was contemplating changing the name of his organization because he was unhappy that the original name of his group, Al-Qaida Al-Jihad or The Base of Holy War, had been shortened to Al-Qaida, dropping the reference to religious war.

On Friday, officials reported that bin Laden's youngest widow, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah , was expected to leave Pakistan for her native country, Yemen.

Pakistani authorities detained Abdullfattah and two other of the al-Qaida leader's wives during last month's U.S. raid.