On the night of May 1, 2011, US special forces launched a raid deep into Pakistani territory to capture or kill al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. On President Barack Obama’s orders, US soldiers flew via helicopter to the Pakistani army garrison town of Abbottabad, where their intelligence indicated he was hiding out. In the process of raiding the compound, Bin Laden and four others were killed. Several people were wounded.
Pakistan’s military and political leaders were furious at the unilateral action by the United States, and set up a Commission to examine both “how the US was able to execute a hostile military mission which lasted around three hours deep inside Pakistan”, and how Pakistan’s “intelligence establishment apparently had no idea that an international fugitive of the renown or notoriety of [Osama bin Laden] was residing in [Abbottabad]”.
In an Al Jazeera exclusive, the results of the Abbottabad Commission are now being made public.
It was charged with establishing whether the failures of the Pakistani government and military were due to incompetence, or complicity. It was given overarching investigative powers, and, in the course of its inquiry, it interviewed more than 201 witnesses - including members of Bin Laden’s own family, the chief of Pakistan’s spy agency, and other senior provincial, federal and military officials.
The Commission’s 336-page report is scathing, holding both politicians and the military responsible for “gross incompetence”, leading to “collective failures” that allowed Bin Laden to escape detection, and the United States to perpetrate “an act of war”.
The report, as Commission members had feared, was kept secret. Until now.