Washington, May 26: Pakistan has agreed to allow a CIA forensic team to the country to examine the compound in Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden was killed and the US agency will use sophisticated equipment to search for possible Al-Qaeda materials hidden inside walls at the site. US officials said the CIA team may arrive in Pakistan within days and head to the compound in Abbottabad, 120 kms from capital Islamabad, with an objective to scrub the site for items that were not recovered by American commandos, The Washington Post reported.
The arrangement with the Pakistan Government would allow the CIA, for the first time, to enter the complex which it had previously scrutinized only from a distance, using satellites and stealth drones.
They said since the US assault team that killed bin Laden was at the site only for 40 minutes, the CIA team will make use of the visit “to do another, more thorough, look.” “CIA Deputy Director Michael J Morell negotiated access to the Abbottabad site during a trip to Islamabad last week, when he met with the head of Pakistan's main intelligence service, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha,” the Post quoted US officials as saying.
Pakistan's agreement is seen as an encouraging sign that the two spy services will continue cooperating despite anger in Islamabad over the American operation to kill bin Laden, and a series of recent ruptures between the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, the Post said.
The Post quoted the officials as saying that Islamabad has also agreed to allow the CIA to examine the materials recovered by Pakistani security forces from the compound. The CIA has also asked ISI for assistance in analysing some of the records that were seized in the raid and brought to a CIA document exploitation facility in Northern Virginia. “In particular, U.S. officials said that the CIA is seeking help in deciphering references to names of individuals and places,” the Post said.
US intelligence officials have described the stash of material recovered from the bin Laden compound as the largest intelligence haul ever recovered. “The materials include dozens of computer storage devices as well as thousands of pages of paper. Even so, US officials said they want to be sure that other material has not been overlooked.
“The CIA plans involve the use of infrared cameras and other devices capable of identifying materials embedded behind walls, inside safes or underground,” the report said. The Post said Pakistan agreed in part because it does not have such equipment and breaking through portions of the structure to conduct a search might risk destroying any materials hidden inside.
The CIA also has equipment that could be used to recover information that has been burned or otherwise damaged. US officials said they have seen no evidence that there were tunnels underneath the compound.
The CIA has already been given access to three of bin Laden's wives who were taken into custody by Pakistan, but officials say none of them has been cooperative with US interrogators or provided meaningful intelligence. PTI