U.S. intelligence officials are poring over a trove of documents and files recovered during the daring U.S. Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, attempting to uncover any information relating to not only planned terror attacks, but any possible support the terror leader could have received from within Pakistan, a top U.S. counterterror official said today.
"It's too early to tell what kind of support system he had," John Brennan, counterterrorism advisor to President Obama, told "Good Morning America." "We have many, many questions about this and I know Pakistani officials do as well... The exploitation of the information is ongoing and we are going to look at it very carefully for thread reporting, plotting that might be underway, leads to other al Qaeda officials as well as what type of support system he might have had in Pakistan."
The al Qaeda leader was killed Sunday in his million-dollar home in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where U.S. officials said he is believed to have lived for at least five years just a short distance from a prestigious Pakistani military academy and a military garrison. With the world's most wanted man living right under the Pakistani military's nose for years, questions were immediately raised about possible collusion with Pakistani officials.
"Obviously it raises some important questions that the Pakistanis need to answer, not just for us, but themselves," former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told "Good Morning America." "I'm sure Pakistan would want to understand how he could hide right there in plain sight."
John Nagl, president of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for a New American Security, said he believed there are "elements" in the Pakistani military or intelligence service "who know where he was -- who certainly could have known where he was if they wanted to."
CIA chief Leon Panetta said that the Pakistanis were purposefully left out of the operation to kill bin Laden for fear they "could jeopardize the mission."
"They might alert the targets," Panetta told Time.
The Pakistani government's foreign office has issued a statement that "categorically denies" any reports by the media that the country's leadership, "civil as well as military, had any prior knowledge of the U.S. operation against Osama bin Laden."
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also called any supposed support for bin Laden by the Pakistani government "baseless speculation."
"Some in the U.S. press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism, or worse yet that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing," Zardari wrote in The Washington Post. "Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news, but it doesn't reflect fact. Pakistan had as much reason to despise al Qaeda as any nation. The war on terrorism is as much Pakistan's war as it is America's. And though it may have started with bin Laden, the forces of modernity and moderation remain under serious threat.
"Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world. And we in Pakistan take some satisfaction that our early assistance in identifying an al-Qaeda courier ultimately led to this day," he said.
Back in November 2009, however, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed skepticism that Pakistani authorities were ignorant of the whereabouts of Al Qaeda's leadership. "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," she told Pakistani media.