‘Army major was not CIA informant’

By Nadir Hassan

An army major allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies in connection with the Osama Bin Laden raid was not, as reported by the international press, a CIA informant, alleged an official privy to the situation.

The major, Amir Aziz, was a doctor in the army’s medical corps and lived just a couple of hundred yards from the compound where Bin Laden was picked up.

Though the military’s information wing has denied that an army major was picked up by intelligence agencies, the source said that the agencies had picked up Aziz and others living close to the compound as a standard precautionary measure for interrogation after they heard about the Bin Laden raid.

At the time, they were more worried whether Aziz had helped out Bin Laden himself, and that any such link between the army and the al Qaeda chief would hurt the military’s reputation.

The source also added that Aziz’s house in Abbottabad had his nameplate on the door and that this was removed only a day after the raid. Had he been a CIA informant, said the source, he would not have been living so openly. Journalists who were in Abbottabad the day Bin Laden’s killing was announced did report that Aziz’s nameplate was present on his door.

The US, according to the source, has been desperately trying to get access to these men but had been rebuffed by the military. The official feels that leaking to the international media that the men were informants may pressurise the agencies into handing over the men. The government official did not know the identity of the other men who were picked up but said that that Aziz was the only army official.

A part of a larger crackdown?

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s security agencies have rounded up several people who are believed to be working for the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a move that indicates serious tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

The nationwide crackdown against the suspected CIA informants was first launched earlier this year following the arrest of ‘American spy’ Raymond Davis over the killing of two Pakistanis, a military official told The Express Tribune.

However, the official, who requested not to be named, said that the drive against the ‘CIA spies’ was accelerated following the death of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in a top-secret US commando operation last month.

“Yes, I can confirm that several suspects have been arrested in recent months. Some of them have been released after they were cleared by the authorities while others are still being interrogated,” he added. He would not give the exact number of arrests though some sources put it at 40.

However, no serving or retired military official was amongst those held by the security agencies, said a statement issued by the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR).

One military official insisted that the story is part of an ongoing campaign to ‘malign’ the country’s security agencies.

With additional reporting by our correspondent in Islamabad


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