Five informants who fed vital information to the U.S. in the build up to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden have been arrested by Pakistan.
According to reports Pakistan’s top spy agency has detained five people who were working with the C.I.A. as U.S. authorities tried to work out whether the al Qaida leader was hiding in the Abbottabad compound.
One of those arrested is believed to be a Pakistani army major who recorded car license plates of vehicles entering and leaving bin Laden’s compound over the weeks prior to the raid on May 2.
According to The Times in London, another of those arrested was the owner of a property leased in secret to C.I.A. operatives as they observed bin Laden’s compound.
The situation of the informants in Pakistan is unclear, according to The New York Times. However, a senior Pakistani official has denied that any army official had been arrested for feeding information to the U.S.
According to The New York Times the fate of the informants was revealed by Leon Panetta, who is the outgoing CIA director. Panetta was traveling to Islamabad last week where he met Pakistani military and intelligence officers.
The reports are likely to further raise tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, whose relationship has been strained since bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. navy seals that by-passed communications with Pakistani authorities.
Some in the U.S. are suspicious that there are some in Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies that may have wanted to protect bin Laden.
Just last week, Michael Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director, rated Pakistan’s co-operation with the U.S. on tackling terrorism as just three out of ten, The New York Times report.
However, other U.S. officials quickly commented that Morell’s comments were not representative of the government’s overall position.
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, has commented, according to The New York Times, that the C.I.A. and the Pakistani spy agency “are working out mutually agreeable terms for their co-operation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage.”