WASHINGTON: The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has arrested five Pakistani informants who assisted the CIA ahead of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The men arrested reportedly include a Pakistan Army major said to have copied the licence plate of cars that drove up to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. But the Pakistan Army has denied any Army officer had been detained over the “Abbottabad incident”.
“There is no truth in the NYT story with regards to involvement and arrest of an Army major in connection with the OBL (Osama bin Laden) incident,” military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said in a statement. A Pakistani security official earlier told AFP that the ISI had no immediate comment on the report.
US officials told the newspaper that CIA Director Leon Panetta had raised the fate of the CIA informants during talks with Pakistani military and intelligence officers in Pakistan last week. At a closed briefing, the CIA deputy director rated Pakistan’s counter terrorism cooperation with the United States as three out of 10, officials told the newspaper.
US officials also said ISI spies had resisted performing surveillance operations for the CIA, refused to grant visas to US intelligence officers and threatened to place more restrictions on US drone flights. The Times also said the CIA was preparing to relocate some of its drones from Pakistan to a base in Afghanistan in order to survey the mountainous tribal areas along the border.
The fate of the CIA informants arrested in Pakistan was unclear, the newspaper reported, citing American officials. A senior Pakistani security official said some people were detained in connection with the Abbottabad raid and they were still being investigated. Asked whether those arrested were CIA informants as mentioned in the NYT report, he said: “Investigations are under way and after the completion of investigation we cay say which category they belonged to.”
Asked about the Times report, a CIA spokeswoman neither confirmed nor denied it and said she had no further comment. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, was quoted as saying that the CIA and the ISI “are working out mutually agreeable terms for their cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage”.