In the raid conducted last month by U.S. Navy Seals the cell phone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier was recovered.
According to the New York Times, senior American officials say the phone contained contacts to a militant group that is an asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
Officials say the discovery demonstrates that Bin Laden used the group, known as Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, to conduct his inner-workings in the country. Since the Pakistan government mentored Harakat and allowed it to operate in Pakistan for 20 years, many officials are arguing whether the group and others like it helped aid Bin Laden on behalf of Pakistan’s spy agency.
Senior American officials said that after looking through the call history, American analysts have determined that leaders of Harakat were in contact with Pakistani intelligence officials. Some speculate they even met in person. However, the officials speculate that the conversations between Harakat and the Pakistan government where not necessarily about Bin Laden, therefore it is unclear as of yet what connection Pakistan’s spy agency had with Bin Laden.
The acquisition of the cellphone has raised questions as to how and why Bin Laden remained untouched in Abbotabad for a significant period of time. Abbottabad is dominated by a strong Pakistani military presence and is a mere three-hour drive from the country’s capital.
Harakat has deep ties to the area around Abbottabad, therefore it is quite possible that Harakat’s network greatly aided in Bin Laden’s ability to function in Pakistan. Leaders of Harakat have relationships with both Al Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence. Harakat is also made up of Pakistanis, allowing them easier clearance to move throughout the country.
Harakat’s network would have easily allowed messages between Al Qaeda members and Bin Laden to be exchanged. Several American officials speculate that some members of Pakistan’s premier spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or Pakistani Army were involved in harboring Bin Laden.