Background
This analysis is based on an older version of our inference model which is accurate but more difficult to read

Question

Did Pakistan know that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad?

Hypotheses
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Calculated Conclusions
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Conclusions
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1

82%
Intelligence knew:

Yes, Pakistani intelligence (but not the government) knew that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad.

82%

2

10%
Didn't know:
No, Pakistan didn't know that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad.
10%

3

9%
Government knew:

Yes, the Pakistani government knew that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad.

9%

Summary

Although Osama Bin Laden became the world's most wanted man after September 11, 2001, with a 25 million dollar bounty on his head, it took almost a decade before he was finally located and killed. On May 2, 2011, two dozen US Navy Seals landed outside of a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, shooting and killing Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden's body was later dropped in the sea.

The raid on the compound, the killing of Bin Laden, and the revelation that he had apparently been hiding out in Pakistan for years, caught the world by surprise. A number of questions were raised, including whether the government of Pakistan, or its military intelligence, had been aware of Bin Laden's presence in the country, and whether the US had informed Pakistan of the impending raid.

Note: this analysis assumes that the US account of the capture is accurate. Some have doubted the veracity and accuracy of this account, a controversy that may be analyzed by Rootclaim in the future.

Rootclaim’s analysis finds that it is most likely (82%) that Pakistani intelligence--but not the rest of the government--knew that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad. It is unlikely (8.5%) that the Pakistani government knew. It is similarly unlikely (9.6%) that neither the government nor its intelligence service knew about Bin Laden’s presence.

Rootclaim’s conclusion is based on a mathematical integration of many pieces of evidence and inputs, including:

  1. As a starting point, it is less likely that the government or intelligence would have knowingly tolerated Bin Laden’s presence given his status as the most notorious fugitive of the time.

  2. The proximity of Bin Laden’s compound to Pakistani military intelligence, and leaked intelligence emails claiming that intelligence officials knew Bin Laden was present, reduce the likelihood that Bin Laden’s presence was unknown to anyone in the Pakistani government or intelligence services.

  3. Testimony by the former head of the ISI that Bin Laden’s stay was facilitated by the head of one of Pakistan’s intelligence services raises the likelihood that Pakistani intelligence knew he was present.

  4. The former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence stating that he had warned the President of Pakistan at the time that Bin Laden was hiding near Abbottabad, although no action had been taken, raises the likelihood of government complicity.

Key Evidence
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Contribution
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1

The compound that Bin Laden was staying in was near an elite military academy only 60 miles from the capital (Islamabad).

Sources: Business Insider
Map of the compound in Abbottabad
Map of the compound in Abbottabad
en.wikipedia.org
Intelligence knew

45%

Didn't know

9%

Government knew

45%

Intelligence knew

45%

Didn't know

9%

Government knew

45%

2

Former head of the

ISI
Ziauddin Butt said that the compound in Abbottabad was used by the Intelligence Bureau (one of Pakistan's five intelligence agencies, along with the
ISI
) and that Bin Laden's stay there was arranged by the head of the Bureau at the time.

Sources: Pakistani news sources, New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall
Ex-ISI chief Ziauddin Butt
Ex-ISI chief Ziauddin Butt
wn.com
Intelligence knew

54%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

27%

Intelligence knew

54%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

27%

3

Secret emails leaked from

Stratfor
claim that
ISI
officials knew Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad.

Sources: WikiLeaks
Intelligence knew

41%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

41%

Intelligence knew

41%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

41%

4

Former head of Afghanistan's intelligence Amrullah Saleh claimed that he had warned Pakistani President (at the time) Pervez Musharraf that Osama Bin Laden was hiding near Abbottabad, but Musharraf refused to act on the warning.

Sources: Former head of Afghanistan's intelligence Amrullah Saleh
Afghani ex-intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh
Afghani ex-intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh
www.theguardian.com
Intelligence knew

29%

Didn't know

25%

Government knew

46%

Intelligence knew

29%

Didn't know

25%

Government knew

46%

Combined contribution of 24 remaining elements.
Intelligence knew

56%

Didn't know

16%

Government knew

28%

Analysis

Evidence
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Starting Point (1 item)

Hiding in the Compound (5 items)

The compound that Bin Laden was staying in was near an elite military academy only 60 miles from the capital (Islamabad).

Sources: Business Insider
Map of the compound in Abbottabad
Map of the compound in Abbottabad
en.wikipedia.org
Intelligence knew

45%

Didn't know

9%

Government knew

45%

Intelligence knew

45%

Didn't know

9%

Government knew

45%

The compound was behind high walls, with overt security and privacy measures.

Sources: BBC
Schematic of the compound
Schematic of the compound
www.bbc.com
Intelligence knew

31%

Didn't know

38%

Government knew

31%

Intelligence knew

31%

Didn't know

38%

Government knew

31%

There were only three men in the compound with Osama Bin Laden.

Sources: Slate
Intelligence knew

35%

Didn't know

31%

Government knew

35%

Intelligence knew

35%

Didn't know

31%

Government knew

35%

People living in the compound behaved strangely in their few interactions with the neighbors (primarily shopping).
Sources: Local shopkeepers
Intelligence knew

30%

Didn't know

37%

Government knew

33%

Intelligence knew

30%

Didn't know

37%

Government knew

33%

Some of the people living in the compound didn't know that Osama Bin Laden was hiding there.

Sources: Maryam al-Kuwaiti (wife of one of Bin Laden's bodyguards)
A hat may have helped Bin Laden evade detection.
A hat may have helped Bin Laden evade detection.
www.dailymail.co.uk
Intelligence knew

31%

Didn't know

39%

Government knew

31%

Intelligence knew

31%

Didn't know

39%

Government knew

31%

Raid (3 items)

A retired Pakistani intelligence officer helped the US find Osama Bin Laden.
Sources: Intelligence sources
Intelligence knew

35%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

35%

Intelligence knew

35%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

35%

The

ISI
arrested the local informants who helped the US catch Osama Bin Laden. Although many were later released, others, like Dr. Shakil Afridi, were sent to prison under questionable circumstances ("trumped-up charges" according to the
Abbottabad Commission Report
).

Sources: The New York Times
Dr. Afridi, a US informant imprisoned in Pakistan.
Dr. Afridi, a US informant imprisoned in Pakistan.
alchetron.com
Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

34%

Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

34%

Scenario A:
Yes, Pakistan was informed
Scenario B:
No, Pakistan was not informed
Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

Communications (4 items)

Papers and files from Bin Laden's house showed communication with Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (founder of

Lashkar-e-Taiba
) and
Mullah Omar
(head of the Taliban).

Sources: New York Times Magazine
Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

32%

Government knew

34%

Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

32%

Government knew

34%

The cellphone of Bin Laden's courier contained contacts to

Harkat-ul-Mujahideen
(a group allegedly tied to the
ISI
).

Sources: Senior American officials
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen flag
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen flag
en.wikipedia.org
Intelligence knew

37%

Didn't know

29%

Government knew

35%

Intelligence knew

37%

Didn't know

29%

Government knew

35%

Secret emails leaked from

Stratfor
claim that
ISI
officials knew Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad.

Sources: WikiLeaks
Intelligence knew

41%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

41%

Intelligence knew

41%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

41%

A leaked diplomatic message quoted a Tajikistani intelligence claim that many in Pakistan knew about Bin Laden's whereabouts and tipped him off whenever there was to be a raid on his hideout.

Sources: WikiLeaks
General Abdullo Nazarov, quoted in WikiLeaks in US-Tajikstan communications
General Abdullo Nazarov, quoted in WikiLeaks in US-Tajikstan communications
gdb.rferl.org
Intelligence knew

35%

Didn't know

31%

Government knew

35%

Intelligence knew

35%

Didn't know

31%

Government knew

35%

American Reaction (3 items)

US officials didn't apologize for the raid and demanded continued cooperation and assistance.

Sources: Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States
Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

The US government never publicly presented any evidence of Pakistan hiding or protecting Bin Laden.

Intelligence knew

33%

Didn't know

35%

Government knew

32%

Intelligence knew

33%

Didn't know

35%

Government knew

32%

The United States froze 700 million dollars in aid to Pakistan after the Bin Laden raid.
Sources: Reuters
Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

29%

Government knew

35%

Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

29%

Government knew

35%

Pakistani Reaction (6 items)

Pakistani President (at the time) Asif Ali Zardari denied that Pakistan had intentionally harbored Bin Laden.

Sources: The Washington Post
President Asif Ali Zardari
President Asif Ali Zardari
wallpaperstall.blogspot.co.il
Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

36%

Government knew

27%

Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

36%

Government knew

27%

The Pakistani military and intelligence did not issue an immediate response to Bin Laden's capture.

Sources: The New York Times
Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

33%

Intelligence knew

36%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

33%

Former Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said that the government knew about Bin Laden's whereabouts.
Sources: Washington Post
Ex-Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar
Ex-Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar
gujratpakistan1.blogspot.co.il
Intelligence knew

32%

Didn't know

27%

Government knew

41%

Intelligence knew

32%

Didn't know

27%

Government knew

41%

Former head of the

ISI
Lieutenant General Asad Durani said it was "probable" that the
ISI
knew where Bin Laden was and protected him as an asset.

Sources: AlJazeera
Lt. Gen. Durani interview
Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

32%

Government knew

34%

Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

32%

Government knew

34%

Former head of the

ISI
Ziauddin Butt said that the compound in Abbottabad was used by the Intelligence Bureau (one of Pakistan's five intelligence agencies, along with the
ISI
) and that Bin Laden's stay there was arranged by the head of the Bureau at the time.

Sources: Pakistani news sources, New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall
Ex-ISI chief Ziauddin Butt
Ex-ISI chief Ziauddin Butt
wn.com
Intelligence knew

54%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

27%

Intelligence knew

54%

Didn't know

18%

Government knew

27%

Former head of Afghanistan's intelligence Amrullah Saleh claimed that he had warned Pakistani President (at the time) Pervez Musharraf that Osama Bin Laden was hiding near Abbottabad, but Musharraf refused to act on the warning.

Sources: Former head of Afghanistan's intelligence Amrullah Saleh
Afghani ex-intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh
Afghani ex-intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh
www.theguardian.com
Intelligence knew

29%

Didn't know

25%

Government knew

46%

Intelligence knew

29%

Didn't know

25%

Government knew

46%

Anonymous Claims (3 items)

A Pakistan security official claimed that the compound had not been under Pakistani surveillance.
Sources: The New York Times
Aerial footage of the compound
Aerial footage of the compound
en.wikipedia.org
Intelligence knew

31%

Didn't know

38%

Government knew

31%

Intelligence knew

31%

Didn't know

38%

Government knew

31%

According to a senior US official, the US had direct evidence that General Shuja Pasha, the head of the

ISI
, knew that Bin Laden was in Abbottabad.

Sources: Pakistani official
ISI Director General Ahmad Shuja Pasha
ISI Director General Ahmad Shuja Pasha
en.wikipedia.org
Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

A senior CIA official involved in the search for Bin Laden said he was unaware of any evidence that the

ISI
was protecting Bin Laden.

Sources: The New York Times
Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

Intelligence knew

34%

Didn't know

30%

Government knew

36%

Abbottabad Commission Report (1 item)

The leaked Abbottabad Commission report blamed government incompetence and military inadequacies for Bin Laden's ability to live in Pakistan undetected.

Sources: Time Magazine
Commission members finalizing report
Commission members finalizing report
www.pakistantoday.com.pk
Intelligence knew

32%

Didn't know

41%

Government knew

27%

Intelligence knew

32%

Didn't know

41%

Government knew

27%

Other evidence (3 items)

Former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Hussein Haqqani said that the heads of the Pakistani military and the

ISI
were embarrassed that Osama Bin Laden was found in Pakistan.

Sources: Foreign Policy
Generals Kayani and Pasha, heads of the Pakistani military and the ISI
Generals Kayani and Pasha, heads of the Pakistani military and the ISI
www.thenewstribe.com
Intelligence knew

33%

Didn't know

35%

Government knew

33%

Intelligence knew

33%

Didn't know

35%

Government knew

33%

The car transporting Osama Bin Laden had been pulled over by police in Pakistan, but escaped undetected.

Sources: Maryam al-Kuwaiti (wife of one of Bin Laden's bodyguards)
Intelligence knew

37%

Didn't know

27%

Government knew

37%

Intelligence knew

37%

Didn't know

27%

Government knew

37%

During the time that Osama Bin Laden was living in Pakistan, there were two different governments (Pervez Musharraf until 2008, and then Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistan People's Party from September 2008 until Bin Laden's capture).

Pervez Musharraf (President 2001-2008)
Pervez Musharraf (President 2001-2008)
en.wikipedia.org
Intelligence knew

40%

Didn't know

33%

Government knew

27%

Intelligence knew

40%

Didn't know

33%

Government knew

27%

Storyline Assumptions
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Assumptions that derive from the evidence above are presented and evaluated here for each hypothesis.
Storyline assumptions:
Likelihood given hypothesis
(including preceding assumptions)

Discussion
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To view the discussion pages of the subanalyses, click below:
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hoo lala

Nov 20, 2018 at 8:44 PM

fghjhgj

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Joanne C Howland-Jurgensen

Mar 4, 2018 at 8:12 PM

How could Pakistan have hidden Bin Laden for so long..How does no one see a 7ft tall terrorist?

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Nils Kilden-Pedersen

Aug 22, 2017 at 2:04 AM

There's no mention of the 25 million dollar bounty, a very strong incentive for anyone who would have known.

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John123

Aug 6, 2017 at 6:57 AM

No, however they did know he was in Pakistan