Locker on Canadian Television Discussing Pakistani Intelligence
Interview on Sun News Canada
May 9, 2011
Multimedia for this item
Begin 60 Minutes clip:
POTUS: I have to think there had to be some sort of support network for Bin Laden inside Pakistan, but we don't know who or what that support network was. We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government and that is something we have to investigate and more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate. And we have already communicated to them and they have indicated that they have a profound interest in finding out what kind of support networks Bin Laden might have had. But these are questions that we are not going to be able to answer 3 or 4 days after the event. It's going to take some time for us to be able to exploit the intelligence we were able to gather on the site.
End 60 Minutes clip.
DAVID AKIN: That was President Obama last night on CBS' 60 Minutes. He called the decision to launch the Bin Laden raid one of the most difficult choices of his presidency and ultimately one of the most satisfying. Meanwhile Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani rejected any allegations of complicity or incompetence on the part of his country in hiding Bin Laden. We're joined now by Ray Locker. Ray is the Managing Editor of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He is in Washington today. And Ray, I guess the first place I'd like to start with you is, you watched President Obama on 60 Minutes last night and we just heard a clip from him and I thought that was sort of the important bit, is there anything to read the lines? What did you hear, what didn't you hear in the way he conducted himself?
RAY LOCKER: Well, David I thought it was particularly interesting that he didn't flat out blame anybody in the Pakistani government for harboring Bin Laden or helping support him. He implied that there was a support network inside Pakistan, I think that's true. We don't know who is in that support network. Obviously there were people there who were helping him. You know it's a very difficult game we play with the Pakistani government and it has been that way for decades. Pakistan is juggling a lot of balls, trying to support or keep the support of Islamists. Meanwhile there is a huge percentage of people in Pakistan who don't like Bin Laden and what he stood for. So whoever is running that country has a lot to take care of.
AKIN: Well I found it remarkable that the Prime Min-or the President as we have heard would say we know that Bin Laden had some sort of support network, but we don't know who or what that support network was. And you might have questions about U.S. intelligence I suppose if they know there was a network but they didn't know who or what it was. And again come back to maybe he doesn't want to tip too much of his hand at this point in time.
LOCKER: Well, we have long had suspicions about the allegiances of the leadership of the ISI, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency of Pakistan. That's their intelligence operation. You know there have been people there who have been long sympathetic to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan and we don't want to share too much information with them, we want to get as much out of them as we can. But it's a very delicate line that we have to walk and it shows how intelligence is such an inexact science. I mean, tremendous success on Sunday with the raid in Abbottabad, but still there were a lot of things we didn't know going into that and a lot of things we don't know now.
AKIN: And again, we heard on the other side of the world, Prime Minister Gilani in Pakistan noting, as he did, also that there was an intelligence failure, but he said it was not only his, but intelligence agencies of the world. And then he also, I'm not sure if it was a threat, but he is trying to I guess, talk tough for his own country to say, any more unilateral action by the U.S. or anybody else will be met with strong force. What do you glean from the Pakistani Prime Minister's comments today? Is there anything to read between the lines there?
LOCKER: Well I think, you know, he is laying down a marker for the future. Obviously he doesn't want this to happen again and it is a tremendous loss of national face. You have the military of a foreign power swooping into the town where you have your army's military academy and carrying out a clandestine raid in the middle of the night. I mean, can you imagine how that would go over in Canada or the United States if the Pakistanis did such a thing? But at the same time, I don't think that he liked having Bin Laden living Pakistan, is probably glad that he is gone. He has been a problem for a long time. As a matter of fact, the president of Pakistan, Zardari, his wife Benazir Bhutto was killed by terrorists a few years ago. So I mean, they live with the impact of terrorism every day and they know how serious it is. So I think a lot of what was said in his speech today was for domestic consumption.
AKIN: And we should note too that Prime Minister Gilani did say that this was "indeed justice done." So on that basic point, they're in agreement. Now we also know that Pakistani intelligence, I guess, or the Pakistani authorities have three of Bin Laden's wives. They would have people who worked in or around this mansion in Abbottabad, but they are not yet sharing much of this information or allowing U.S. officials to get access to these people. Why might some of these folks be important? Why is there still a lot of intelligence to be gathered by both the Pakistanis and the Americans?
LOCKER: Well, you never know what someone is going to tell you in a situation like that. Remember, the initial tip that led U.S. intelligence to find Bin Laden in this location was somebody who was a detainee in Guantanamo gave up the name of one of the couriers and once you had that name you were able to unravel that whole tapestry of clandestine activity that led to Bin Laden's whereabouts. You never know what one of his wives might say. They could toss out a name that had been previously unknown to intelligence and then from there, you could develop other leads that lead you to the al-Qaida number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, or somebody else.
AKIN: I wonder, it's been a week now since the death of Bin Laden and as you have tracked this, the response from the world's terrorists- anything significant that you have noticed over the week or that you are waiting to hear in terms of a response from al-Qaida or any other network?
LOCKER: Well, what we say today was al-Qaeda in Iraq backed al-Zawahiri as the new leader of al-Qaida throughout the world. That was one development. They finally acknowledged that Bin Laden is indeed dead, which, I mean, is something of a statement. They vowed revenge. We saw last week, I think it was Thursday, an attempt to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula leader who is living in Yemen. So we're seeing a lot of movement. Nothing specific. We haven't seen the reprisal attack yet, but it's still early.
AKIN: But I supposed it couldn't come as a shock, I suppose to al-Qaida's leadership other than Bin Laden, that one day Bin Laden might not be there. That they might have had some sort of plan in place, perhaps.
LOCKER: Well, you'd think so. I mean, obviously when somebody has a bulls eye on their head like bin Laden did, you can't assume that he's going to be around forever and I would imagine that, whether they are stated or not, there were some contingency plans. Now, in a lot of times in a transition like this you may have a nominal number two who may or may not emerge as the eventual leader and that could be the case here.
AKIN: Alright, Ray Locker thank you so much for joining us. Ray is the Managing Director for the Center for--, pardon me, the Investigative Project on Terrorism in Washington. Thanks Ray.