Why did Pakistan arrest suspected CIA informants?
The five CIA informants were reported to have copied license plates of cars visiting bin Laden's compound before the May raid.
June 15th, 2011
09:40 AM ET

Why did Pakistan arrest suspected CIA informants?

Editor’s Note:  Bruce Riedel spent nearly 30 years as a CIA officer focusing on terrorism. He served as senior advisor to three U.S. presidents on Middle East and South Asian issues and he chaired President Obama’s first interagency review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, American and the Future of Global Jihad.

By Bruce Riedel – Special to CNN

Only Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI) knows for sure what it is trying to gain from the arrests of the suspected CIA informants who helped lead to Osama bin Laden. But it seems likely the ISI is trying to learn more about American intelligence operations in Pakistan than anything else. They are likely trying to find out what the U.S. is doing in Pakistan and trying to make it harder for the U.S. to carry out its operations.  After all, if the ISI wanted to learn what the U.S. knows about Al Qaeda, they could come to the U.S. directly.

These arrests demonstrate that the U.S. and Pakistan have dramatically different reactions to the Abbottabad raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. America sees the raid as a success in the war against Al Qaeda. The Pakistani military - and to a large extent the Pakistani population as a whole - see it as a humiliation.

They see it as a humiliation in two ways: First, that bin Laden was hiding in the heartland of Pakistan; second, and more importantly, that the Pakistani military was unable to defend itself against a penetration of their country’s airspace by the United States.
These arrests come at a time when the Pakistani army is under unprecedented criticism at home, due to both the army’s humiliation in Abbottabad and to a series of terrorist attacks that have struck Pakistan recently.

This has placed the military under unprecedented pressure. There is even talk that Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani may be in trouble with his fellow generals. The extent of this discord is hard to gauge but this is something we haven’t seen in some time.

The very different views of what happened on May 2 in Abbottabad reflect the fundamental divergence of strategic interests between Pakistan and the United States.

Pakistan is a country that continues to harbor and support various parts of the Jihadist Frankenstein that it has created over the last quarter of a century even as it fights other parts of that Frankenstein monster. The Pakistani army does not want to give up its links to terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Afghan Taliban.

America is in a difficult position vis-a-vis Pakistan. As Bob Gates said on his last visit to Afghanistan, this is like a bad marriage. You don’t want to make it worse and you don’t want to get a divorce, so ugly events continue.  The direction in U.S.-Pakistan relations is clear: The bilateral relationship is deteriorating and we are heading toward an increasingly tense period.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Bruce Riedel.

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Topics: Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Terrorism • United States

soundoff (280 Responses)
  1. samuel

    you all should see the bill o"reilly show on fox news on this subject- and we should admire america"s maturity and diplomatic finesse in trying to maintain a semblance of relationship with pakistan inspite of the tremendous duplicity and lies and infidelity of the pakistani people- they took 20 billion dollars from the usa and stabbed the usa in the back with the bin ladin shelter. But the usa has to maintain its pakistan ties because pakistan has loose nukes which can be used against india, usa , israel, eu etc- , so the usa should be there to monitor these weapons in pakistan. China is waiting for a chance to take over pakistan and throw the usa out of pakistan. So that they can get gwadar in the arabian gulf. China wants to weaken india. So america is right to do what it is doing in pakistan.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:11 am | Reply
    • PakAm

      Fox? Orielly? hahahahahaha. You just want to start something else. Don't you?

      China never wanted to weaken India; if it did, who would have stopped it. You are forgetting that India was a great Russian ally in the Cold War against America, India had some communist aspirations of its own. Plus, India was pretty much as weak as Pakistan until fairly recently when the competition among the multinationals heated up and they started to hold an expansive eye towards the billion plus Indians for their capital gains, with the help of super strong Indian lobby in DC, of course. The great Indian lobby also sold "anti-China" angle to the wary politicians.

      The only reason China helps Pakistan is because they ALREADY have Gwadar seaport for there commerce, and so does the other landlocked countries in the region. And China does not want to take over Pakistan, man! YOU GOTTA STOP WATCHING THE FAKE NEWS. . . UH, . . . I MEAN the fox noise.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  2. Mrs. Smith

    I suppose the pakistani officials arrested those five to get some information, so what ? It's their right and in similar situation US would have done the same-
    But what comes to the real point of this conversation, or from where it's based – The 9/11 was not orchestrated by Bin Laden – he may have theoretically had the funds but that's not enough – The incident needed, not months, but years of planning – planning that Osama with his relatively small followers could not have conducted no matter what –
    It needed '****men and ****men to meet and discuss, technical advisors inside US, discussions on it's ethicality – who will win and who will lose and who probably does what afterwards – it needed A BIG BODY –
    superadvanced techology – pyrotehcnics – infowar experts –
    all this was in the process already well before year 2000 – and at the same time it needed it's patsy, a scapegoat – and who would have better suited to that role than Lee Harvey....eh, sorry, I mean Osama bin Laden.

    What if enough many people inside Pakistan realized, that Osama was not guilty, and they wanted to let him live in peace.

    Before 911 happened, there were a lot of people in US and in Mid-East who knew it's going to happen. Did Osama inform them? Did he and his "crowd" send text messages for the few hundred in WTC-buildings that got them, not to go to work on 11.9.2001 ? They must have been his relatives.

    And yes, Osama was right when he once said: "Israel is steel". In the end, OBL was too innocent.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:45 am | Reply
    • PakAm

      Please, don't call this man innocent. You may make a case for his defence in 9/11 attacks on the accounts of it being unfathomable that a "caveman could do it" and the American govt. not releasing any definitive proof of his involvement (its weird they won't even release definitive proof of the operation all the way upto his killshot. Why? Because it would be used as propaganda against US. Well they are already doing that with the fake pictures. Plus, lack of proofs are giving rise to these conspiracy theories we all know very well and American attitude of "we don't have to provide proof to anyone" with the lies they concocted for Iraq War is not helping them with anyone. Why American govt' do it?). But OBL and his friends has killed many innocent civilian Pakistanis, Indians and Afghanis that no one can deny. He may have a few friends in Pakistan, but Pakistan is 180 million strong. A common Joe(Sheeda) in Pakistan will never think of him as innocent.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • Suni

      And you should get award for that breaking news??? LOL! What crap is that in your thought?? Brain washed moron! LOL!!!

      June 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  3. PakAm

    In Washington, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was asked indirectly about the arrests during a Senate hearing.

    "Do they [foreign governments] also arrest the people that help us, when they say they're allies?" Senator Patrick Leahy asked.

    "Sometimes," Gates replied, adding, "and sometimes they send people to spy on us, and they're our close allies. That's the real world that we deal with."

    The last comment of Sect. Gates is about Israel (NEEDLESS TO SAY). Why won't Mr. Zakaria/Bakshi/Reidel say anything about that. Oh wait, their silence speaks volumes. Just like in the case of USS Liberty. Why double standards!!!!???? Why Israel has such support in America everywhere when they have not even done anything or laid down any Israeli life for US? Instead, Israel has killed Americans, spied on US, and blatantly disrespected all our politicians and leaders, all the way up to Obama. And all of the above just recently. But they keep getting US financial and military aid. And NOT a peep from anyone in America. Why?

    The whole of World watched Leon Panetta say that they did not have any audio visual confirmation that it was OBL in the compound in Abbott-abad. After spying on the OBL compound for SIX(6) months (need I say with such top notch technology, Pakistani on-ground informants, and hundreds of on-ground CIA agents), they were only sure 60-80% that there was some kind of high value target there (it might be OBL). After all of this, Mr. Zakaria calls it "hiding in plain sight." And he is not alone!

    Pakistan has lost $70 Billion and 38,000+ Pakistani lives in this war on terror that it is not capable of winning. Is US capable of winning a war with Cuba? Is China capable of winning a war with India? Can really any country win a war with any of its neighbors?

    Just do us all a favor and erase Pakistan out of existence, please. 'Cause that freaking country can't do anything right. All the other countries are perfect, except Pakistan. So, just finish it. Atleast, we won't have to experience this painful double standard!

    June 16, 2011 at 9:24 am | Reply
  4. PakAm

    BTW, the above is NOT in defence of Pakistan's behavior; it's in protest of the injustice of double standards, as in men vs. women, whites vs. blacks, and the like.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:33 am | Reply
  5. kamran

    Well i think its enough now.Why this super power has become a policeman and telling the world what to do.America crossess all the limits every time.STOP FOOLING THE MASSES NOW , ENOUGH IS ENOUGH OF THIS GREAT GAME AND NEW WORLD ORDER.AHEAD IS DEAD END.

    June 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  6. Mrs. Smith

    When I wrote that in the end OBL was too innocent, I don't mean that he was completely innocent. Anyway, Bush and the american military complex have killed during the last 10 years at least 1,5 million people, most of them civilians; have the two last US administrations been going a Holy War ? Holy Shit ! – There is a very strong reason for many to believe that 911 was planned and orchestrated inside US, by CIA, MOSSAD and Pentagon – For reasons too much to write here – The Lion of Arabia certainly was a terrorist, but not so big time as people been fooled – People who knew him told: "He was more of a dreamer." – Osama was used, they made him the evil khalif of orient – at least americans bought that cartoon image ( not everybody) – His son Omar said:" My father was a kindhearted man, the kindest of them, all others were a lot worse. (of Al-Qaida)" – Now that Al-Zawahiri has taken the lead in Al-Qaida, let's see what happens – I hope Osama's death has paralyzed them – No matter what Osama was or was not, people are fed up with terrorism , but also missiles, all sorts of new warfare being tested here and there so somebody should tell that to US, at least none of the women I know finds that anymore interesting, and they are so ugly, too, these yankee soldiers, whereas Osama was at least beautiful.

    June 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  7. skywatch

    does anyone knows
    how many peoples been killed by US war of liberty in IRAQ?
    how many peoples been killed by US war of (protecting its own peoples in afghanistan) ?
    with the US generals and Govt policies, is the world is safe now?
    how much is the cost of wars?
    how many hospitals and school could have been built with that money?
    how many peoples could have been fed in africa where peoples are dying because of hunger?

    talibans are equally blamed for too but a bit lesser extent than US cos if any other country attack my country (UK) so its my duty to defend the mother land. for the enemies i might be a terrorist/enemy or whateva name but for my country will be a hero .. isnt it?

    June 17, 2011 at 7:41 am | Reply
  8. Suni

    Oh Sdar... Indian's afraid of Pakis??? is that a JOKE?? have India not kicked Pakis asses twice already in wars, or have you forgotten and must be reminded???
    it is Pakis who are in constant in fear of their mighty neighbors India! Pakis cannot bear the truth AND truth being
    they have failed system in dictatorship type of Government that only looks for itself and not its people, Pakistanis should start speaking against this failed policy instead of pointing finger at India. Your problems are within your country and its corrupt leaders, nothing wrong with being ashamed of them, stop blaming India for your misery! Good Luck!

    June 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  9. GoaMata

    Hello Indians, accept the reality Kashmir was never part of India, if it is part of India what is the purpose of UN resolution for plebesite. Better resolve the kashmir issue according to the wishes of kashmir peole, or wait to welcome freedom fighters from west side of pakistan after us leaves. if you insists that kashmir is integral part of India, you will see your mahan bharat to mini India!!!! I guaranteeeeeee.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Suni

      Dream on! Don't Guarantee anything to look like a fool later...LOL!!!!!! That is what Pakistanis have always done, looked like a fool when caught lying! Pakistan has already tried 3 wars and lost all so far and 4th will be deep inside Pakistan! THAT IS FOR SURE! Bharat have always been Mahan – What have Pakistan got to show – really!! NOTHING!
      What do they brag on – borrowed and begged money from west???? LOL!!!!!!

      June 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply
    • boznon

      GaoMata people like you have already damaged the cause of common man man in Pakistan who wants to live in peace and would not be interested in stoking wars or military interventions in kashmir.Those methods have failed.The case of kashmir should only be taken up diplomattically.Let Kashmiris decide their fate without military interference from pakistan.

      June 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  10. Suni

    Why hide behind name like GOAMATA?? why not KARACHIMATA??? ashamed of being Pakistani??? or do people like you think GOA is Pakistan as well??? What a JOKE!!!!

    June 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  11. aamir

    bec we dont have to ask from others like america what to do with whom and what not. bettere is to save your own house first.ameica is unable to controol even 20 percent area of afghanistan.how he can talk about pakistan in war of terrorism. we need to tell you americans that what we are doing.you got it.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Reply
    • Bacha

      who make Taliban in Afghan ? USA, They used against Rassia now they using Pak against Taliban so tell me who is playing with humens?

      June 18, 2011 at 5:48 am | Reply
  12. TowelHeadsAreMorons

    Because they are Towel Heads!

    June 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  13. Artie

    It is CLEAR that ISI is hiding Al-Queda members and Taliban leaders. Why else would they arrest informants? If they wanted more info, why would "arrests" be necessary? What happened to just bringing them in for questioning?
    Cowards and conspirators. Nothing more.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  14. Prometheus

    I heard on the news tonight that two attacks on weapons manufacturing houses for terrorists/militants were foiled in the Northern tribal areas because PAKISTAN was made aware of them by the USA and while the USA was planning the attacks...PAKISTAN approached the tribal leaders to "seek their permission" for the attacks to take place. The tribal leaders then tipped off the militants and 'poof'...they disappeared.

    Way to go PAKISTAN...yet again.

    June 18, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  15. roger smith

    pakistan should break dilomatic relation with America....refuse american dollars
    Osama and Obama are no friends of pakistan

    americans must get out of Pakistan

    June 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  16. Marcelo Ruiz

    Don't you remember when USA arrested secret agents of venezuela who were supposedly carrying operations in american territory? This is the same case.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:10 am | Reply
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