Tag Archive for 'Bob Woodward'

Trail to bin Laden began with phone call

Bob Woodward in The Washington Post:

It seemed an innocuous, catch-up phone call. Last year Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the pseudonym for a Pakistani known to U.S. intelligence as the main courier for Osama bin Laden, took a call from an old friend.

Where have you been? inquired the friend. We’ve missed you. What’s going on in your life? And what are you doing now?

Kuwaiti’s response was vague but heavy with portent: “I’m back with the people I was with before.”

There was a pause, as if the friend knew that Kuwaiti’s words meant he had returned to bin Laden’s inner circle, and was perhaps at the side of the al-Qaeda leader himself.

The friend replied, “May God facilitate.”

When U.S. intelligence officials learned of this exchange, they knew they had reached a key moment in their decade-long search for al-Qaeda’s founder. The call led them to the unusual, high-walled compound in Abbottabad, a city 35 miles north of Pakistan’s capital.

“This is where you start the movie about the hunt for bin Laden,” said one U.S. official briefed on the intelligence-gathering leading up to the raid on the compound early Monday. More:

Reading Woodward in Karachi

Is this the nail in the coffin of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship? Mosharraf Zaidi in Foreign Policy:

Bob Woodward’s books have an uncanny ability to create palpable nervousness in Washington. They almost always expose some government officials in a poor light. But though many figures in his latest, Obama’s Wars, don’t come off particularly well, there is one clear, overwhelming, and irreconcilable villain. It isn’t a member of Barack Obama’s administration, the Taliban, or even al Qaeda. In fact, it’s not a person at all.

In the opening chapter, Woodward introduces his bad guy: “the immediate threat to the United States [comes] … from Pakistan, an unstable country with a population of about 170 million, a 1,500 mile border with southern Afghanistan, and an arsenal of some 100 nuclear weapons.” Never mind the Woodward effect in Washington; in Obama’s Wars, the villain is an entire country.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have never been more fraught. Last month, NATO helicopters breached Pakistani airspace several times. In the first instance, they engaged a group of suspected terrorists, killing more than 30. On Sept. 30, in another breach of Pakistani territory and airspace, NATO gunships fired on Pakistani paramilitary troops from the Frontier Constabulary (FC). Three Pakistani soldiers were killed and another three were badly injured. No one even attempted to dismiss the incident as friendly fire. In response, Pakistan has shut down the main border crossing and supply route into Afghanistan at Torkham, and militants have attacked convoys bringing fuel to NATO forces. All this comes after the most intense month of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan since the campaign began.

Into this environment comes Woodward’s account of the Obama administration’s decision to embrace a surge strategy in Afghanistan, which also offers a pretty good window into what American power sees when it looks at Pakistan. Woodward’s emphasis on the “Pak” in AfPak reflects a larger shift in emphasis in official Washington. Perhaps inadvertently, the book is also likely to confirm many of the darkest suspicions that ordinary Pakistanis have about their erstwhile American allies. More:

Siachen tension and Pakistan floods

From ‘Obama’s War‘ by American journalist Bob Woodward reported in The Indian Express:

Holbrooke angle: global warming

Months before the floods in Pakistan, US special envoy for Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke had said the presence of Indian and Pakistani troops in Siachen was resulting in fast melting of ice that would soon flood the rivers in their countries, claims the book. Holbrooke made the remarks at a meeting chaired by Obama.

“In one discussion about the tension between Pakistan and India, Holbrooke introduced a new angle. ‘Theirs is a global warming dimension of this struggle, Mr President’,” he said. “His words baffled many in the room,” writes Woodward. “There are tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops encamped on the glaciers in the Himalayas that feed the rivers into Pakistan and India,” he said. “Their encampments are melting the glaciers… There’s a chance that river valley in Pakistan and perhaps even India could be flooded,” Holbrooke had said. “After the meeting, there were several versions of one question: Was Holbrooke kidding?” the book says. “He was not.”

ISI chief told CIA his ‘rogues’ carried out Mumbai attack

From the Indian Express story on ‘Obama’s War‘ by American journalist Bob Woodward:

Less than a month after the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan’s spy agency chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha had admitted before the CIA that the terror strikes had ISI links but claimed it was not an “authorised” operation but carried out by “rogue” elements, according to a new book.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) later received reliable intelligence that the ISI was directly involved in the training for Mumbai, says the book entitled ‘Obama’s War’ written by investigative American journalist Bob Woodward.

According to the book, the then President George W Bush during his meetings with his top aides had said the terrorist attack on Mumbai was just like 9/11.

“President Bush called his national security team into the Oval Office as Mumbai sorted through the blood and rubble. You guys get planning and do what you have to do to prevent a war between Pakistan and India, Bush told his aides. The last thing we need right now is a war between two nuclear-power states,” Woodward says in his book which hit the stands on Monday. More: