Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ABBOTTABAD RAID: A RECONSTRUCTION THROUGH TWEETS

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR: PAPER NO 715
B.RAMAN

Chirpstory is a website that facilitates reconstruction of events through a study of Tweets relating to that event. It has put out at
http://chirpstory.com/li/1294 a compilation of "on-the-ground tweets from Abbottabad, Pakistan, compiled with very well-informed journalists/researchers' tweets." The annexed Tweets have been extracted from that compilation.Most of the Tweets discuss the coming down of one of the helicopters participating in the raid. They discuss the following questions without being able to come to definitive answers:

* Was it an American or a Pakistani chopper?
* Did it come down due to technical reasons or was it brought down by ground fire?
* What was the source of the explosions heard around the same time?

2. One interesting thing that stands out is that the choppers which participated in the raid were very noisy, to the point of irritating some of the Tweeters. One of the Tweeters says: : "It was too noisy to be a spy craft, or, a very poor spy craft it was." He again says: "I started noticing the helicpoter when the noise got irritating ". This Tweeter was interviewed by Barkha Dutt of NDTV in her "The Buck Stops Here" show on May 3. A transcript of her interview is available at http://tinyurl.com/6kr8tyv .If the helicopters were so noisy, how is it the local security people including those in the local police stations and in the Military Academy did not hear the noise and try to make enquiries about the source of the noise?


3. There are also references in the Tweets to a black-out in the town, roads being blocked, telephones going dead and sirens being sounded. It is not clear whether these things happened during the raid or after the choppers had left with the dead body of Osama bin Laden. A taxi-driver has been quoted as saying as follows: "The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding." This was possibly after the raiding party had left. A sweeper has been quoted as saying as follows: "A family also died in the crash, and one of the helicopter riders got away and is now being searched for."

4. There is also a reference to a plane flying over Abbottabad, but it is not clear whether this was a Pakistani or a US plane and whether it was during or after the raid.

5.During his media briefing on May 2,2011, John Brennan, Assistant to President Barack Obama on Homeland Security, was asked about the incident involving the downed chopper. He replied as follows:"Seeing that helicopter in a place and in a condition that it wasn’t supposed to be, I think that was one -- at least for me, and I know for the other people in the room -- was the concern we had that now we’re having to go to the contingency plan. And thankfully, they were as able to carry out that contingency plan as they were the initial plan." Which was that place and what was the condition in which one of the two helicopters found itself to be, forcing the Navy Seals to move from the initial plan to the contingency plan? How did the contingency plan differ from the initial plan? Brennan did not give these details, Nor did the media personnel pose these questions to him.

6. Where did that chopper find itself to be which forced its being destroyed and abandoned? Was it in the court-yard of the house in which OBL was living? Or was it elsewhere? The Tweets give differing locations for the chopper crash. One of the Tweets says it was very close to the Pakistan Military Academy.

7. According to US official briefings, Pakistan was not associated with the planning and execution of the operation to prevent any leaks, It was informed of the raid after the raiding party in its remaining chopper had crossed back into Afghanistan. To quote Brennan:" :We didn’t contact the Pakistanis until after all of our people, all of our aircraft were out of Pakistani airspace. At the time, the Pakistanis were reacting to an incident that they knew was taking place in Abbottabad. Therefore, they were scrambling some of their assets.Clearly, we were concerned that if the Pakistanis decided to scramble jets or whatever else, they didn’t know who were on those jets. They had no idea about who might have been on there, whether it be U.S. or somebody else. So we were watching and making sure that our people and our aircraft were able to get out of Pakistani airspace. And thankfully, there was no engagement with Pakistani forces. This operation was designed to minimize the prospects, the chances of engagement with Pakistani forces. It was done very well, and thankfully no Pakistani forces were engaged and there was no other individuals who were killed aside from those on the compound."

8. The raiding party itself went in two choppers one of which found itself in a place where it was not supposed to be and hence had to be destroyed. The other chopper brought the raiding party back to Afghanistan with OBL's body and those captured. Brennan said that Pakistan was not informed till "all of our aircraft were out of Pakistani airspace" This would indicate there were other US planes and./or choppers in the Pakistani air space during the raid.

9.One US claim can be accepted without any problem----that it was purely a US operation with no involvement of Pakistan in the planning and execution.The problem arises with reference to the US claim that Pakistan was informed only after the raiding partry had re-entered the Afghan airspace.The entire operation in Abbottabad itself lasted at least an hour: 40 minutes of the fire-fight and at least 20 minutes for the time taken by the choppers to manoeuvre themselves.During this period there was the heavy noise made by the choppers as they came down near OBL's house, the noise made by the crashing chopper and the noise of the fire-fight. How come during this entire period none of the security personnel posted in Abbottabad for the protection of the PMA and the senior Army officers living in the town and in the campus of the PMA noticed that there was something wrong and alerted the local units of the armed forces, para-military forces and the police.?

10. Only two explanations are possible: either there was total security incompetence at Abbottabad or the local security had been told by the Pakistani military leadership not to worry and keep quiet. If the second explanation is correct, the Pakistanis must have known of the impending raid before it took place. ( 5-5-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

ANNEXURE

( A COMPILATION OF THE TWEETS BEARING ON THE ABBOTTABAD RAID )

.
ReallyVirtual
Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).

ReallyVirtual
Go away helicopter - before I take out my giant swatter :-/

ReallyVirtual
A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S

m0hcin
@ReallyVirtual Hello sir, any update on the blasts? What has really happened?

ReallyVirtual
@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too... the helicopter is gone too.

m0hcin
@ReallyVirtual So what do you guess by the intensity of the blast, any casualties expected? Also exact location?

ReallyVirtual
@m0hcin http://bit.ly/ljB6p6 seems like my giant swatter worked !

m0hcin
@ReallyVirtual Thanks for the link, some say the blast happened near Kakul Road residential area. Hopefully not true.

ReallyVirtual
@m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani...

m0hcin
@ReallyVirtual Oh! That's not good. Also this is a very unusual time for copter flights.

marvisirmed
WHAT??? RT @TariqBashir1: @javeednusrat @Shiringul @Razarumi Helicopter shot down in Abbottabad near PMA: BREAKING NEWS

javeednusrat
late night action; the war has come to Pakistan. Blow back of Afghanistan. Just the beginning, I suspect.



m0hcin
Seems something nasty happening in #Abbottabad, God save us.

m0hcin
@javeednusrat Sir, did you get this from any one in Abbottabad? I am hearing similar things.


wqs
RT @mosharrafzaidi: Helicopter crashes near PMA Kakul. What was a low-heli doing flying around Abottabad Cantt at 0130 hrs?

kaalakawaa
So whose helicopter was shot down in Abbotabad? Any info on that?

kashaziz
@wqs Helicopter crash in Abbotabad?

m0hcin
@kaalakawaa Called family, they say near Military Academy. Nothing can be said what actually happened.

kaalakawaa
@m0hcin Did they know if it was a crash or whether it was shot down? I guess difficult to tell if they weren't on the ground. Thanks though.

m0hcin
@kaalakawaa Couldn't make a good guess, all they said was they heard 3 blasts one after another. Seems like a shot down to me.

marvisirmed
@mosharrafzaidi @shahidsaeed But there are mixed news. Some say it was shot down. Doesn't make sense though

marvisirmed
@wriksen For you a deliberate shooting down and an accident dont make any difference? strange.

raihak
@ReallyVirtual be safe!

ReallyVirtual
@raihak I try, man, I try

ReallyVirtual
@raihak Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the 'being safe' strategy

marvisirmed
Did the heli crash or it was shot down?

javeednusrat
@m0hcin it is on all tv networks in Pakistan sir; breaking news etc.

m0hcin
@javeednusrat I get that, but no one is sure if this was a shot down or a crash. Your tweet seemed to suggest the former.

javeednusrat
Before Attock, we also have an attack on NATO supplies in Attock. How long it takes from Attock to Abbotabad?

ReallyVirtual
Since taliban (probably) don't have helicpoters, and since they're saying it was not "ours", so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad

raihak
@ReallyVirtual I know... and also to avoid the mad power cuts in Lahore! Now the only thing still going for you in the weather?

ReallyVirtual
@raihak yep, the mad power cuts have reached abbottabad - 14 hours daily - luckily I have a generator AND a UPS at the coffee shop

m0hcin
@shobz Yeah, I am just trying to confirm if it was shot down or it crashed. No clues as yet.

javeednusrat
The help fell on a residential area

javeednusrat
Army is not letting the cameras in

kashaziz
@ReallyVirtual Could be a UFO? No?

ReallyVirtual
@kashaziz technically, it is unidentified until identified, and it is a flying object, so year, why the hell not, we have seen weirder stuff

kashaziz
UFO crashed at Abbotabad (near Pakistan Military Academy)

tahirakram
@ReallyVirtual Helicopter crashed in Abbotabad? That you just tweeted?

tahirakram
@ReallyVirtual Damn. Unusual. Was it of Pakistan Army?

ReallyVirtual
@tahirakram they're not saying anything

javeednusrat
a minute's drive from PMA.

javeednusrat
Fire brigades missed the place

m0hcin
@han3yy I did get in touch with family there, they said they're okay but can't say if the heli crashed on residential areas elsewhere.

javeednusrat
first time after earthquake in 2005, helis were heard flying so late in the night in this area.

javeednusrat
Who says it was an empty plot? Fire came from the ground. It is a congested area. May be the heli flew to get some for Attock a while ago?

ReallyVirtual
The abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town area, and there's report of a flash. People saying it could be a drone.

akchishti
the army chopper at #abbotabad was fired upon before it went down.

akchishti
@javeednusrat this chopper has all the hall marks of rashid minhas episode / mutiny within the armed forces (Islamists)

javeednusrat
@akchishti I have my doubts. May be it was looking for people behind Attock event some hours ago. Just a guess.

akchishti
@javeednusrat yes, that's a valid point - tahreek-e-taliban-e-alqueda -Pakistan - newest baby on the block!

raihak
@ReallyVirtual Good god... i'm too tired to switch on the TV though. Shocking if this is true.

wqs
@ReallyVirtual is it confirmed that it was short rather than some technical fault

ReallyVirtual
@wqs figures, if they have the right to shoot planes flying over the president house, the must have the same instructions for PMA

wqs
Ghaip Khor In between Attock & Pindi: 14 Nato Containers Burnt......

akchishti
so the #pak army asserts more blackmailing tactics: #NATO tankers burned at #Attock

Tahreek-e-Pakistan-Tanzeem-e-#alQueda-e-#Pakistan new #jehadi organization which has propped up

wqs
Tehreek-e-Taliban, Tanzeem AlQaida Pamphlets found....... WTF!! Engineered Events ..........

wqs
@tahirakram another event of Burning Nato Oil tankers

smedica
@ReallyVirtual Was it shot down? Or it crashed by itself?

ReallyVirtual
@smedica people are saying it was not a technical fault and it was shot down. I heard it CIRCLE 3-4 times above, sounded purposeful.

smedica
@ReallyVirtual 3-4 times is a little less. I've been hearing helicopter flying since 12.35 am may be 10-12 times!

ReallyVirtual
@tahirakram very likely - but it was too noisy to be a spy craft, or, a very poor spy craft it was.

javeednusrat
@marvisirmed what he wrote about Kabul is happening to you right now. Wake up man. Instead of reading start taking notes.

marvisirmed
Absolutely so RT @javeednusrat what he wrote about Kabul is happening to you right now. Wake up man. Instead of reading start taking notes.

javeednusrat
@marvisirmed TT has struck in Attock only a while ago. They have to come to Islamabad. So take the pen and do not strain your eyes.

marvisirmed
Makes me smile. just realized, some of the TT comrades of Mulla Zaeef are in Gitmo right now, others in Afghan Parliament :)

akchishti
@marvisirmed bibi TT=Tahreek-e-Taliban - Mullah Zaeef = Afghan Taliban -2 different entities (both evil though)

marvisirmed
@akchishti By TT I mean tehreek-e-Taliban founded by M.Omar &co. Not the TTP. So, TT=Afghn Taliban; TTP = bad Taliban

marvisirmed
@akchishti Why I call them TT is coz Zaeef describes them as such. About TTP, there's no secret. Mehsud was grade 21 officer posted in SW

akchishti
bad but a reality v must live with RT @FarrukhKPitafi: @marvisirmed I hope this is sarcasm. 2 me TT,TTP, all are bad bad bad bad guys.

tahirakram
Any thing good the intelligence agencies are doing?

wqs
bugging private lives of Public & Politicians RT @tahirakram: Any thing good the intelligence agencies are doing?

ReallyVirtual
@smedica It must have been more, I started noticing the helicpoter when the noise got irritating - which part of Abbottabd are you in?

smedica
@ReallyVirtual Near PMA road, and I also heard the first blast at around 12.35 am, right now I'm hearing sirens. Where do you live?

ReallyVirtual
@smedica I live near Jalal Baba Auditorium

smedica
@ReallyVirtual Safer than my area :-)

ReallyVirtual
@smedica 'safer' is a relative term that has lost its meaning in Pakistan

smedica
@ReallyVirtual Very right!

javeednusrat
@omerkhn they have cordoned off the road sir. surely the phones are blocked as well. so, wait until the official version. sad, but real.

javeednusrat
@tammyhaq access is blocked. have to wait for the official version.

ReallyVirtual
Here's the location of the Abbottabad crash according to some people >>> http://on.fb.me/khjf34

ReallyVirtual
Two helicpoters, one down, could actually be the training accident scenario they're saying it was >> http://bit.ly/ioGE6O

javeednusrat
@omerkhn phones are blocked. have been trying many numbers since the news came. We can only pray things r ok with people we care about

m0hcin
Uncle in Atd: Heli was hovering over a militant hideout, heard 3 minor blasts + fire exchange before the heli went down. @kaalakawaa

m0hcin
This is the best I could have from Atd. all roads blocked, army and local admin tight lipped. @kaalakawaa

ReallyVirtual
and now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/

m0hcin
@shobz Well, actually this happened very close to PMA and hence the high profile response, I reckon.

ReallyVirtual
And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad...

ReallyVirtual
Interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today

ReallyVirtual
Report from a taxi driver: The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding

ReallyVirtual
@kursed What really happened doesn't matter if there is an official story behind it that 99.999% of the world would believe

ahmedbilal
@ReallyVirtual @kursed that last tweet applies to just about everything :)

kursed
@ReallyVirtual Any idea what really happened?

ReallyVirtual
@kursed Another rumor: two copters that followed the crashed one were foreign Cobras - and got away
kursed
@ReallyVirtual Foreign cobras that came in as far as Abbottabad? Hard?

ReallyVirtual
@kursed True, but stranger things have happened. I just hope they don't find my giant helicopter swatter. Must hide it :-/

joshuafoust
@glcarlstrom Raymond Davis was a symbol of the assets the CIA fanned across Pakistan looking for OBL

ReallyVirtual
Report from a sweeper: A family also died in the crash, and one of the helicopter riders got away and is now being searched for.

ReallyVirtual
@kursed Well, there were at least two copters last night, I heard one but a friend heard two, for 15-20 minutes.












kursed
@nihang Tarbela Air Base is home to heliborne assault arm of Pakistan's special forces (SSG).

kursed
@umairalirashid Either was mounted from within Pakistan, or a low-level intrusion via Chinooks.






kursed
The person responsible for Bali bombing was also arrested from Abbottabad.






kursed
The entire Abbottabad city was blacked out (without power) during the operation. Well timed op!

kursed
@pakistanpolicy Abbottabad city does face regular blackouts. You'd direct questions to actual source in the city. @sohath

akchishti
Just talked to a senior Air Force personal who confirms #Pakistan give out air space to US choppers & PAF provided cover.

javeednusrat
@BDUTT A week ago, the possibility of this operation was conveyed. the rest is...

akchishti
Ops launched from Ghazi Airbase in #Pakistan not #Afghanistan - more details emerging.

ReallyVirtual
I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That's all.

javeednusrat
The whole compound has been bulldozed says a person living in the area.

javeednusrat
Bulldozing of the compound makes sense. One heli was downed. Journalists might have tried to find out its owner and who downed it and how.

javeednusrat
It was a US heli which fell.

akchishti
@javeednusrat I just spoke to former CIA Station Chief in Islamabad Art Keller. He confirms that Ghazi Airbase was used.

akchishti
#OBL was living with Swat IDP's and retired Pak Army Officers.

akchishti
the chopper down in Abbotabad is "USAF" #OBL

akchishti
Chidambaram says #OBL killing proves that Pakistan provides "sanctuary" to terrorists - AFP. WAAT A GENIUS !

7 comments:

Ashok said...

There is a lot of disinformation by governmental and nongovernmental sources going on right now. That is clear.

I'm sure there was an advance deal made between the ISI and the CIA/State Dept.

Krishna Kacker said...

Your comments talk of only 2 helicopters used in the raid.Some reports have mentioned 6 helicopters.
2.It is difficult to believe that the Pak military establishment is so incompetant as to merely "scrambling" and not send at least some aircraft to check what was happening, particularly if the helicopters were as noisy as mentioned and which kept on making the noise for almost an hour.
3.It leads me to think that the facts have not come out;obviously there has been collusion between US and Pak Govts. which neither want to admit.

Traveler said...

n interesting and must read article about a stealth helicopter used in the mission
http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/05/04/could-the-bin-laden-raid-have-revealed-a-secret-new-helicopter/?hpt=Mid

harihar said...

Of course the Paks must have been informed in advance to stand aside and not engage the US aircraft. The only question is when. A day before the operation? Twelve hours? Six hours? One hour? I would say the bare minimum time required for the orders to percolate right from the top of the Pak hierarchy to the very bottom. I would put the time frame at about 15 miniutes or so.

That could also explain one of the US choppers being brought down, possibly, by ground fire. The plan worked by and large. But someone, somewhere down the line possiby didn't know or defied orders. Both are distinct possibilities.

If the account given by one of bin Laden's numerous wives is correct, that he was actually staying in that house for five years or thereabouts without venturing out, then the most obvious conclusion to draw is that he was a virtual prisoner in the "protective custody" of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment. So, did they play the "bin Laden card" and sell him out in the end as many had long speculated they would? Doubtful. But the 'deal' theory is that in exchange for the Paks selling out UBL, the Americans withdraw from Afghanistan and Pakistan regains its "strategic depth."

Too neat? Time will tell...

Ashok said...

Dear Harihar,

The 'deal theory' doesn't have anything to do with Afghanistsan, except a commitment of monitoring forces hostile to Pakistan from that region.

It has everything to do with Kashmir. The plan is to set up a joint military garrison in Kashmir, sans India. This has been the plan since the birth of Pakistan and since the time of Liaquat's assassination.

harihar said...

Dear Ashok,

I do agree. But would just add that the 'deal' theory may have a lot to do with both Afghanistan and Kashmir!

Rahul Bansal said...

wow! this is so clean and detailed analysis. Obviously it would have been a very laborious excercise but i learnt a lot the process of reconstruction. Thak you sir for the insights