“Mr Ambassador…. I didn’t wake you did I…”

OBL-abbott 018
Osama bin Laden’s bath

This is by far my favourite tale from the OBL raid. It gives the sense of utter shock running through the Pakistani government as it realised what had just happened on its soil…

The American ambassador’s phone rang shortly after 3am.

It was Salman Bashir, the civil servant who heads Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Mr Ambassador, we have reports of a helicopter crashing in Abbottabad. All our helicopters are accounted for.

“Do you know anything about it?”

Cameron Munter, who had already got used to dealing with crises since being sent to Islamabad six months earlier, kept his reply diplomatically short: “We’ll look into it.”

A note of dawning realisation crept into Mr Bashir’s voice. “Mr Ambassador, I didn’t wake you did I?”

The phone conversation – described by an official familiar with the exchange – reveals how Pakistan was kept in the dark even after the raid had ended, and the rapid sense of shock that gripped the country.

I have 100% faith that the conversation unfolded in that way. And once more, it provides a level of detail that Seymour Hersh’s dubious account simply cannot match, offering a clear example of how Pakistan simply had no idea what was happening that night.

I simply don’t want to get into the weeds with Hersh. His claims are deliberately vague. There is no explanation of how a walk-in could ever get close to the US embassy, for example. He has left much of it simply unverifiable.

But the stuff I have – the Alexander Otte testimony, for example – and the above anecdote, are solid. It doesn’t rely on hearsay. I know what I believe.

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