Daily brief: Reports: U.S. warned Pakistan on possible bin Laden incursions

Please join the AfPak Channel at 1:00pm EST TODAY for a live chat with Frontline journalists Stephen Grey and Shoaib Sharifi on Frontline’s new documentary, "Kill/Capture" (FP). The Rack: Steve Coll, "The Outlaw," David Remnick, "Exit bin Laden," Dexter Filkins, "Already Dead," Jon Lee Anderson, "Force and Futility," and Eliza Griswold, "House Tour," all in ...

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

Please join the AfPak Channel at 1:00pm EST TODAY for a live chat with Frontline journalists Stephen Grey and Shoaib Sharifi on Frontline's new documentary, "Kill/Capture" (FP).

The Rack: Steve Coll, "The Outlaw," David Remnick, "Exit bin Laden," Dexter Filkins, "Already Dead," Jon Lee Anderson, "Force and Futility," and Eliza Griswold, "House Tour," all in The New Yorker.

Advance warning

Reuters reports that according to current and former U.S. officials, both the Obama and Bush administrations "repeatedly" indicated to Pakistan that they would send U.S. forces into Pakistan if the White House obtained information that deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was hiding in the country (Reuters). The officials note that this warning amounted to an "understanding" of a potential U.S. incursion.

Please join the AfPak Channel at 1:00pm EST TODAY for a live chat with Frontline journalists Stephen Grey and Shoaib Sharifi on Frontline’s new documentary, "Kill/Capture" (FP).

The Rack: Steve Coll, "The Outlaw," David Remnick, "Exit bin Laden," Dexter Filkins, "Already Dead," Jon Lee Anderson, "Force and Futility," and Eliza Griswold, "House Tour," all in The New Yorker.

Advance warning

Reuters reports that according to current and former U.S. officials, both the Obama and Bush administrations "repeatedly" indicated to Pakistan that they would send U.S. forces into Pakistan if the White House obtained information that deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was hiding in the country (Reuters). The officials note that this warning amounted to an "understanding" of a potential U.S. incursion.

In a letter given to the New York Times, bin Laden’s fourth eldest son Omar denounced his father’s killing as contrary to international law, and condemned the Obama administration for not arresting and trying his father as well as for burying him at sea (NYT, ABC, WSJ, Reuters, AFP). The letter, purportedly written on behalf of several bin Laden sons, also attacks Obama for the shooting of bin Laden’s youngest wife during the raid, saying, "As [Omar] condemned our father, we now condemn the president of the United States for ordering the execution of unarmed men and women." Anonymous Pakistani intelligence officials tell the Daily Telegraph that bin Laden’s youngest son Hamza is missing after the raid last week (Tel).

Pakistani officials reportedly continue to withhold access to bin Laden’s widows from U.S. officials, and also have refused to share the women’s interrogation reports, though the Express Tribune reports that Pakistan has offered conditional access to the widows if the United States shares some of the information seized from bin Laden’s compound (NYT, ET). As many as 17 women and children may be in Pakistani custody, including three bin Laden widows. ABC News and the Guardian profile the youngest widow, Amel Ahmed Abdulfattah, whose marriage to bin Laden was arranged by a Yemeni cleric, on the condition that the wife be, "pious, dutiful, young [preferably aged 16-18], well mannered, from a decent family, but above all patient" (ABC, Guardian).

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John Campbell, who commands U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, said that communication with Pakistani forces on the other side of the border was cut off for two days after the raid that killed bin Laden (Dawn).

New beginnings?

U.S. officials said yesterday that members of the House and Senate intelligence and armed services committees will be able to make appointments at CIA headquarters to view the post-mortem photos of Osama bin Laden (CNN). CBS News reports that the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden spent over half their time at the Abbottabad compound collecting nearly 2.7 terabytes of information, the equivalent of 220 million pages (CBS).

Influential senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar, respectively the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a hearing yesterday that bin Laden’s death provided an opportunity to rethink America’s engagement in Afghanistan, with Kerry calling the cost of the war "ultimately unsustainable" and calling for the United States to eventually reach the "smallest footprint possible" in the country (Post, NYT). Kerry also announced that he will go to Pakistan to calm tensions between Islamabad and Washington, as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin said Pakistan should pay attention to U.S. concerns over the countries efforts to battle extremists (AFP, Reuters, AFP). The U.S. has given Pakistan nearly $20 billion in aid since al-Qaeda’s attacks on September 11, 2001 (FT). Several Pakistani politicians offered prayers for bin Laden during a session of the National Assembly yesterday, briefly stopping normal proceedings (Tel).

And a journalist from Khyber, Nasrullah Afridi, was killed in a car bombing in an upscale part of Peshawar yesterday (ET, Daily Times, Geo).

Relentless

The Taliban have reportedly suspended their massive assault against police posts in the isolated Afghan province of Nuristan, with up to four insurgents and several Afghan police killed in the attack (Pajhwok, Pajhwok, Reuters). And an estimated 100 Taliban fighters attacked the village of Abduraman in northern Jawzjan province, with at least 17 Taliban killed in the ensuing battle, while several militants were reported killed in clashes with Afghan and NATO troops in Kunduz province (AP, Pajhwok). 

According to one reported plan for the reduction of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the burden of combat will shift towards Special Operations Forces over the next three years, leaving 10,000 Special Forces and 20,000 to 30,000 regular troops in Afghanistan after 2014 (Tel). And the top British officer in Afghanistan, Gen. James Bucknall, urged that the West offer Afghanistan assurances for its security after the planned 2014 withdrawal (Guardian).

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times look at new reports about civilian casualties and detention practices in Afghanistan that underscore the complexities inherent in picking militants out of a civilian population; and the Journal visits a government school in the perilous Andar district in southeastern Afghanistan, which only operates with the Taliban’s permission (NYT, LAT, WSJ).

Pumping iron

The Los Angeles Times reports on the proliferation of gyms in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, with nearly 1,000 gyms popping up across Afghanistan and 200 in Kabul alone (LAT). However, Afghanistan’s rediscovered passion for bodybuilding has been accompanied with a rise in the use of anabolic steroids.

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