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May 9th, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Obama says bin Laden had 'support network' in Pakistan

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama says Osama bin Laden had a group of supporters within Pakistan helping to keep the al Qaeda leader secure for years, despite an American-led international manhunt that extended for nearly a decade with Islamabad's ostensible support.

Top U.S. officials insist Pakistan remains a critical U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism, but are demanding answers to troubling questions about bin Laden's presence in that country over the course of the last six years.

"We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan," Obama said in a "60 Minutes" interview airing Sunday on CBS. "But we don't know who or what that support network was."

The president said U.S. officials "don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government (or) people outside of government, and that's something that we have to investigate."

"More importantly," he added, "the Pakistani government has to investigate."

Pakistani authorities have "indicated they have a profound interest in finding out what kinds of support networks bin Laden might have had," Obama noted. "But these are questions that we're not going to be able to answer" immediately after the raid on bin Laden's compound.

"It's going to take some time for us to be able to exploit the intelligence that we were able to gather on site," he said.

Pakistani leaders insist they didn't take part in either the establishment or the maintenance of bin Laden's safe haven, and have promised a full examination of the circumstances that allowed him to spend years in Abbottabad, a city with a heavy military presence located a mere 30 miles north of the country's capital.

Asked by CNN's Fareed Zakaria whether bin Laden's presence in Pakistan could be chalked up to "duplicity or incompetence," Pakistan's U.S. ambassador, Husain Haqqani, said Sunday he couldn't provide an explanation.

FULL STORY

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
May 9th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

U.S. officials unveil videos of bin Laden

Washington (CNN) - Keenly conscious of his image, a graying Osama bin Laden no doubt never expected this video - showing him hunched over, draped in a blanket and using a television clicker - to hit the world's airwaves as it did Saturday.

Filmed by a confidant, the al Qaeda leader contrasts with the younger version of himself on a TV screen a few feet away. That man has a more youthful beard, a hand held up in resolve and a photo of the burning World Trade Center.

U.S. officials, who Saturday released five videos, emphasized the recordings and other materials seized at bin Laden's Pakistan compound show the terrorist still had a firm hand at the tiller, managing strategic and tactical control of his organization, even as he stayed out of sight in Abbottabad.

The undated videos make clear bin Laden "remained active in al Qaeda terrorist propaganda operations, especially in shaping his own image," said a senior intelligence official granted anonymity under the ground rules of a briefing at the Pentagon.

Four of the clips show bin Laden, who was killed along with four others Monday by U.S. commandos, in more formal attire. No audio of the terrorist leader speaking accompanied the images.

The intelligence official said the audio was removed because it would be "inappropriate to spread the words of terrorists and propaganda messages, especially Osama bin Laden."

Besides the missing audio, the videos, according to the intelligence official, were not altered in any other way.

Still, the release of the home movies sends a message to those who doubted bin Laden was killed: Navy SEALs got footage that likely could have been held only by bin Laden at his hideout.

It may also have accomplished something else: diminishing the bin Laden mythology of invincibility.

FULL STORY

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden
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