SHAH MOHAMMAD (Reuters) - Pakistani security officials reacted with scepticism on Sunday to a US assertion that Osama bin Laden was actively engaged in directing his far-flung network from his compound in Abbottabad where he was killed on May 2.
Washington said on Saturday that, based on a trove of documents and computer equipment seized in the raid, bin Ladens hideout north of Islamabad was an active command and control centre for al-Qaeda where he was involved in plotting future attacks on the United States.
It sounds ridiculous, said a senior intelligence official. It doesnt sound like he was running a terror network.
Pakistani officials said the fact that there was no internet connection or even phone line into the compound where the worlds most-wanted man was hiding raised doubts about his centrality to al-Qaeda.
Analysts have long maintained that, years before bin Ladens death, al-Qaeda had fragmented into a decentralised group that operated tactically without him.
Its bullshit, said a senior security official, when quizzed on a US intelligence officials assertion that bin Laden had been active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions of the militant group from his secret home in the town of Abbottabad.
On Saturday, the White House released five video clips of bin Laden taken from the compound, most of them showing the al-Qaeda leader, his beard dyed black, evidently rehearsing the videotaped speeches he sometimes distributed to his followers.
None of the videos was released with sound. A US intelligence official said it had been removed because the United States did not want to transmit bin Ladens propaganda. But he said they contained the usual criticism of the United States as well as capitalism.
While several video segments showed him rehearsing, one showed an aging and grey-bearded bin Laden in a scruffy room, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a ski cap while watching videotapes of himself. This compound in Abbottabad was an active command and control centre for al-Qaedas top leader and its clear ... that he was not just a strategic thinker for the group, the US intelligence official said in Washington.
He was active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions.
The duelling narratives of bin Laden reflect both Washingtons and Islamabads interests in peddling their own versions of bin Ladens hidden life behind the walls of his compound.
Residents of the village of Chak Shah Mohammad, at the end of a bumpy road flanked by fields of wheat, were both puzzled and a little scared to find themselves at the focus of the investigation.
Everyone in the village knows when a cow has a calf so how could bin Laden and his family hide here? Mohammad Naseer, a 65-year-old retired soldier, said as he took a break from working his fields. I can say for sure he wasnt here.
The village is made up of about 120 small, brick buildings, homes and sheds, and has a population of about 400 people, although many have left for work in cities.
Pakistani security agents have been going house to house, searching for clues.
Police never used to come to our doors but now these guys are turning up all suspicious of us, said school teacher Ahmed Sultan.
My young kids are asking 'Dad what happened, what did you do? he said. We have nothing to do with bin Laden. Were Pakistani. We dont feel anything for him.