The information was learnt from e-mails of the private US security firm, Stratfor, which were published by WikiLeaks website on Monday after the Anonymous, online activist collective that hacked into Stratfor’s servers and swiped 5 million emails.
As one of the e-mails claims, the firm had been given access to information papers collected from bin Laden’s Abbotabad compound after US special forces attacked it last May, killing the al Qaeda leader.
The e-mail, from a Stratfor analyst, suggested that up to 12 officials in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency knew of the safe house.
“Mid to senior level ISI and Pak Mil with one retired Pak Mil General that had knowledge of the OBL arrangements and safehouse,” the email said.
In one of those messages, sent by Fred Burton, the vice president for intelligence of Stratfor, a private US intelligence firm, to a “Secure List” of Stratfor colleagues on May 12, 2011, he noted:
“I can get access to the materials seized from the OBL safe house. What are the top (not 45) questions we want addressed.”
Sean Noonan, a tactical analyst at Stratfor, responded: “1 specific operational plans, 2 communications with franchise groups (like AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula]), 3. connections to anyone associated with the Pakistani state.”
This letter raises a question: Has Stratfor, which maintains various contracts with the Defense Department and other federal agencies, penetrated the US intelligence establishment for its own benefit?
WikiLeaks head Julian Assange accused Stratfor of involvement in illegal or morally questionable research activities for private corporations.
“On the surface it presents as if it’s a media organisation providing a private subscription intelligence newsletter,” Assange said. “But underneath it is running paid informants networks.”
Mr Assange also promised that WikiLeaks will publish 5,000 emails that would reveal details of individuals who had worked or given information to the organization.
“Stratfor has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world, as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do,” the company responded to Assange. “We have done so in a straightforward manner and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional conduct.
“Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them,” the statement said.
American officials have always been sure it was impossible for the ISI not to have known that Bin Laden was sheltering in a garrison town so close to Islamabad. Pakistan has repeatedly dismissed the charge, writes The Telegraph.
By the way, WikiLeaks released only 200 emails while the magazine is claimed to have 5 million Stratfor letters.
Other e-mails contain the suggestion that Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s president, may have less than a year to live as his cancer is worsening. Russian doctors “cleaned up the mess” resulting from Cuban treatments for the Venezuelan leader had given a grim prognosis for his recovery.
In June, Chavez announced he had a cancerous tumor the size of a baseball removed during a procedure in Cuba. However, a few days later a new lesion appeared near the site of the previous tumor. The president has denied reports that the cancer had metastasized.
According to the WikiLeaks document, the source believed the cancer had started near the prostate and had spread to the colon, lymph-nodes and bone marrow, says The Miami Herald.