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Bin Laden informants arrested

June 15, 2011 at 7:34 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- Five Pakistanis have been arrested by their country's spy agency for providing information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said.

The five, including an army major, reportedly worked with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency prior to the May 2 killing of the al-Qaida leader during a raid on his compound by U.S. Navy SEALs in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, northeast of Islamabad, the officials told The New York Times.

Pakistan denied the report, saying no army personnel had been detained and the report was "totally baseless," Xinhua reported.

The reported arrests were seen by some in Washington as further evidence of the strained bilateral relations at a time when the two countries are supposed to be allies in the fight against al-Qaida, the Times said.

The officials told the newspaper instead of going after the support network that permitted bin Laden to live comfortably for years in his compound, Pakistani authorities were arresting those who assisted in the elimination of the world's most wanted terrorist.

Deputy CIA Director Michael Morrel, during a closed briefing last week in the Senate Intelligence Committee, rated Pakistan's cooperation three on a 1-to-10-scale, the report said, quoting officials familiar with the exchange.

CIA Director Leon Panetta brought up the informants' arrests during his recent Pakistan trip, the report said. He also reportedly offered evidence of collusion between Pakistani security officials and the militants staging attacks in Afghanistan.

For the record, CIA spokeswoman Marie Hard told the Times the United States has a "strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and (we) work through issues when they arise."

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