Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to US officials.
Pakistan’s detention of five CIA informants, including a Pakistani army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Osama’s compound in Abbottabad in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the US and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in Afghanistan. At a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael J. Morell, the deputy CIA director, to rate Pakistan’s cooperation with the US on counter-terrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10.
“Three”, Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange.
The fate of the CIA informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, but US officials said CIA director Leon E. Panetta raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet Pakistani military and intelligence officers.
Some in Washington see the arrests as illustrative of the disconnect between Pakistani and US priorities at a time when they are supposed to be allies in the fight against al-Qaida—instead of hunting down the support network that allowed Osama to live comfortably for years, the Pakistani authorities are arresting those who assisted in the raid that killed the world’s most wanted man. The Osama raid and more recent attacks in Pakistan have been blows to the country’s military, a revered institution in the country.
Some officials and outside experts said the military is mired in its worst crisis of confidence in decades.
US officials cautioned that Morell’s comments about Pakistani support was a snapshot of the current relationship and did not represent the administration’s overall assessment.