The UK-based family of a former Pakistani intelligence official who allegedly sold the secret location of Osama bin Laden to the CIA have denied the claim.
Brigadier Usman Khalid, who had been a high-ranking member of the Inter-Services Intelligence service and who died in 2014, was last week revealed as the man who shopped bin Laden to the United States.
The revelation was made by senior Pakistani journalist Amir Mir. Mr Mir’s disclosure followed an article by the Pulitzer Prize-winning American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, in which Hersh claimed that bin Laden’s hideout in the northern Pakistani city of Abbotabbad was revealed to the Americans by a senior ISI official – contradicting American claims that the raid which kill the former Al Qaeda chief was a purely American operation.
At the time, the Pakistani government too denied any knowledge that bin Laden was hiding out just miles away from several military installations.
Hersh quoted an American intelligence source who claimed that Brigadier Khalid was given $25 million and settlement in the United States by the CIA in return for his information.
On Tuesday, Brigadier Khalid’s family angrily denied the claims.
His son Abid told the Daily Telegraph: “My father hadn’t visited the USA since 1976 and had lived in the UK since 1979 so there was no question of him of his family getting American citizenship. He had no contact with the CIA and knew nothing about Osama Bin Laden, other than what he read in the newspapers, just like everyone else. He was politically very vocal, so he was an easy target.”
Brigadier Khalid is said to have sought asylum in the UK in 1979 after resigning from a 25-year career in the Pakistani army in protest at the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the former Prime Minister.
However, according to Hersh’s claims, a “senior Pakistani intelligence official” had given up bin Laden’s whereabouts to the CIA in August 2010, less than a year before the terror chief was killed in a daring night-time raid carried out by elite US Special Forces.
The official, Hersh said, had also helped convince a Pakistani doctor to conduct a fake polio vaccination program in a bid to confirm that it was bin Laden who was hiding in the high-walled Abbottabad compound, just a few miles from both a Pakistani military academy and a nuclear weapons training facility.
Abid Khalid said: “My father was an honourable and patriotic man. He was also a caring, family man and would be horrified to be linked to the fake polio vaccination programme. He would have been devastated to have been linked to anything which would put the lives of innocent people, especially children at risk, especially in the country he loved.”
The White House has maintained that the Pakistani government had no idea about an operation which caused widespread anger in the country with Islamabad accusing the United States of infringing on Pakistan’s sovereignty.
However, Hersh claimed that bin Laden had been held in Pakistan as a prisoner of the ISI since 2006, and that the US operation was known to Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Parevez Kayani as well as ISI Director General Ahmed Shuja Pasha. Both men claimed at the time that the US had not kept them in the loop before or during the operation.
The White House has denied Hersh’s claims whilst critics and security experts alike have questioned how he could have based his claims on a single source.