U.S. intelligence and military officials are shaking their heads at a news report out of Pakistan this week claiming that Pakistani authorities possess a heretofore unknown personal diary of Osama bin Laden’s found at the terrorist’s Abbottabad compound after U.S. Navy SEALs completed their mission to kill the al Qaeda leader, but before the compound was demolished last year.
The U.S. team of 79 people, including SEAL Team 6, returned from the historic assault inside Pakistan on May 2, 2011, with a large trove of documents, including a handwritten diary of bin Laden’s that included operational instructions to the dispersed al Qaeda network, several U.S. news agencies reported at the time.
But the mention of a new bin Laden diary this week turned a few heads. The article, first published in The News International, which claims to be Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper, and picked up by other South Asian news outlets, claims that in the diary bin Laden reveals he had bribed a local tax collector to permit the construction of the three-story building and high-walled compound in which the world’s most wanted terrorist hid for his final days.
“Pakistani officials discovered a diary in which Osama had described that he had to bribe the revenue officials for construction of his compound, which is a unique incident in the history when the Patwari [village accountant] had taken bribe from the most-wanted terrorist of the world,” the story reads.
“The Patwari was in complete ignorance about the identity of Osama when he was taking the bribe from him. But the diaries, which were translated, revealed that Osama was not only well aware of this practice but the bribe was also given with his permission.”
According to the story, the Patwari has been “arrested and investigated.”
The News International often publishes stories that align with the interest of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI. But several U.S. intelligence and military officials with intimate knowledge of the mission contacted by the E-Ring were unaware of the purported diary.
“We do not have any way of knowing what information may have been missed during the sweep after the raid,” said Ken McGraw, deputy public affairs officer at U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversaw the SEAL team that conducted the raid and brought back a trove of documents and computer files after reportedly an estimated 38 minutes on the ground. “Special Operations Forces turn over all information collected during an operation to the intelligence community.”
A U.S. intelligence official with intimate knowledge of the raid, speaking anonymously, told the E-Ring, “I’m unaware of any such diary that was left at the Abbottabad compound.”