All eyes on Pakistan

Almost no one believes that the ISI could not have known of Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

Now that Bin Laden has gone to a watery grave, attention is focused on the role of Pakistan. Almost no one believes that he could have rented a mansion in Abbottabad, within a mile of "Pakistan's Sandhurst", without the knowledge of the Pakistani secret service (the notorious ISI).

Ming Campbell and Rory Stewart are among the British politicians who have argued that it is not credible for Pakistan to claim it did know where Bin Laden was hiding.

Elsewhere, Amrullah Saleh, the former head of Afghanistan's national security directorate, has declared: "Does Pakistan want the whole world to believe that the intelligence agency of a nuclear state did not know OBL was there?"

In an apparent attempt to deter suspicion, the ISI claimed joint responsibility for the operation but, as Barack Obama said in his statement, it was carried out by a "small team of Americans". He did, however, state that "our counterterrorism co-operation with Pakistan helped lead us to Bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding".

But, during a White House press briefing on the raid, a senior administration official pointedly noted that "we shared our intelligence on this Bin Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan". He added: "That was for one reason and one reason alone: we believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel. In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance."

In other words, the US simply did not trust Pakistan with the information.

UPDATE: Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan's main opposition leader, tells the Guardian: "It is very worrying that after ten years this man could only be captured in an operation that was kept secret from the Pakistani intelligence service. Just a few weeks ago, the Pakistanis were insisting that the US military and intelligence operations should be stopped in Pakistan and their agents should leave the country."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

New Statesman
Show Hide image

Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.