Pakistan TV Report Contradicts US Claim of Bin Laden’s Death
Paul Craig Roberts
August 8, 2011
In my recent article, “Creating Evidence Where There Is None,” about the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden by a commando team of US Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan, I provided a link to a Pakistani National TV interview with Muhammad Bashir, who lives next door to the alleged “compound” of Osama bin Laden. I described the story that Bashir gave of the “attack” and its enormous difference from the one told by the US government. In Bashair’s account, every member of the landing party and anyone brought from the house died when the helicopter exploded on lift-off. I wrote that a qualified person could easily provide a translation of the interview, but that no American print or TV news organization had investigated Bashir’s account.
An attorney with a British Master of Laws degree in international law and diplomacy, who was born in Pakistan, provided the translation below. He writes: “I have no problem with being identified as the translator, but would prefer to remain anonymous.”
The translator provides these definitions and clarifications:
“Gulley” is generally referred (in Urdu) to a sidewalk or pavement. Also for the space between two houses.
“kanal” is a traditional unit of land area, so that one kanal equals exactly 605 square yards or 1/8 Acre; this is equivalent to about 505.857 square meters.
Muhammad Bashir refers to himself as “We”. This is common respectable language for the self; to use the plural term instead of singular. The English language equivalent would be the “Royal, We”.
Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan.
I have translated the entire text of the video.
I have tried my best to keep words in a chronological order, but in some cases this is not possible, as in translation words must be replaced in reverse order to make sense! However, I have had to put a few words in brackets to clarify meaning. If you want to ask about any section – please supply time stamp and I will supply a contextual text.
welcome back! – Muhammad Bashir, Abotabad Area, Bilal Town resident, Looks like an ordinary person, but he is no ordinary person! Muhammad Bashir, lives in Abotabad’s, Bilal Town Opposite Bin Laden’s House.
Night of 2nd May Muhammad Bashir was on the roof of his house, whereupon, the entire OBL, American operation was seen with his own eyes.
Last night, when our team was in Abotabad, Bilal Town, near OBL house, Muhammad Bashir approached me and said that:
“Sister, I want to tell you something that is a great burden on my heart and conscience” – Listen to what he said:
00:59 Muhammad Bashir: I.. today… would like to comment about todays Abotabad operation events, until now, what I am about to say, no person has said.
01:08: Reporter: But, Muhammad Bashir sahib appeared frightened. While speaking to me, Muhammad Bashir sahib phoned his
relative; leader, M.E.A. of Jamaat-e-islami, Abotabad, Abdul Razaq Abaasi on the phone.
01:21: reporter: Tell me your name and where do you live? Muhammad Bashir: – One minute, first I need to speak to him…I am going to give an interview, a complete interview. Shall I give a complete interview or half?
Reporter: Complete! – complete!
Muhammad Bashir: I first need to phone him, I need to speak to him
Reporter: I could of…
01:39: Reporter: Muhammad Bashir sahib, on that night’s events of the American operation, that took place, he expressed such comments about circumstances that have never been expressed before, therefore, we checked his ID card, his place of residence and we can confirm that he definitely lives there and we also approached senior politicians and asked about him, after hearing his comments, we were amazed – now you watch what he said.
01:57: Muhammad Bashir: The events that happened are thus; we were awake, we were not asleep.
02:00: Muhammad Bashir: a Helicopter came, and circled and dropped some people there.
02:07: Muhammad Bashir: in that house… where they are saying; Osama lives here, on that house’s roof, they dropped people, after that, the helicopter returned and went back.
02:16: Reporter: How many people were they?
02:18: Muhammad Bashir: They were ten, twelve people
02:20: Muhammad Bashir: After that it left and for approximately 20 minutes, there behind us, on those mountains, it kept going around, the top of the mountains.
02:27: After 20 minutes, it returned. When it returned, at that time there were TWO more helicopters arrived. One came from the West and one came from the North. When it approached for landing, after that…
At this point;Video cut and resumed:
02:41: Muhammad Bashir: that helicopter, there was an explosion within it and there was fire within it, immediately, we came out and arrived there. When we arrived, the helicopter was on fire, it was burning. After that, about twenty minutes later the Army arrived, the police arrived. They moved all of us back…
03:04: Muhammad Bashir: …and all the people inside it, all of them…we think; if Osama was inside it, or inside this house – then who took him to the Americans?
03:16: Muhammad Bashir: Because America…the helicopters that America is saying; IT carried out the operation. If America did this operation and it’s army came and it’s helicopter came, then that helicopter that came from the American’s, within that, all the people that came, those people with the explosion were finished, got destroyed!
03:35: Muhammad Bashir: Within it, there was fire, those people, all of them died!
03:39: and if Osama was there, they would have put him in the helicopter. Obviously, if the helicopter caught fire, Osama could have died there. If their own people were gone, (dead) so could have Osama. After that, the fallen helicopter was destroyed after this, how can Osama be, with them in America? this is a strange thing!
Video cut & resumes
03:59: Muhammad Bashir: They are saying we killed Osama here. After that, they picked him up and took him away.
04:04: Muhammad Bashir: PICKED HIM UP AND TOOK HIM AWAY – how did they do this? This, what we are thinking!
04:07: Muhammad Bashir: The Americans’ helicopter that came, that fell here and got destroyed!
04:09: Reporter: There was only ONE helicopter?
04:11: Muhammad Bashir: ONE helicopter landed down here, the second helicopter came from above and went towards Mansera.
It did not land. No second helicopter landed
04:20: Only ONE helicopter, that first dropped it’s passengers, the SAME returned to pick the people and there was an explosion within it.
04:27: Reporter: People were inside it?
04:29: Muhammad Bashir: People were inside it!
04:30: Reporter: How do you know this?
04:32: Muhammad Bashir: These people, we seen them all
04:34: Reporter: In the helicopter… you saw dead people?
04:36: Muhammad Bashir: We saw dead people!
04:38: Reporter:How many people?
04:39: Muhammad Bashir: This, we could not count, within the compound there was fire.
04:43: Muhammad Bashir: and we… the gate was open, we entered the gate, at that time the Army had not arrived.
04:48: Muhammad Bashir: Police had not arrived. Some people from the agencies, were present, but they did not prevent anybody, they kept entering, every person was looking , now, nobody is saying, but everyone from the mohalla (neighbourhood) and all the people present from the mohalla arrived first. We saw the gate open, we entered inside, saw the burning helicopter, the people inside were dead. After that everything was lifted. Now, there is nothing there!
05:16: Reporter: How many dead bodies did you see?
05:18: Muhammad Bashir: Look, you cannot count, the dead bodies were in pieces everything else was broken pieces, some here, some there, some broken, some half, some like this.
05:27: Reporter: Tell me fully – what happened?
06:30: Reporter: Tell me the full events
05:31: Muhammad Bashir: I told you, this is…
05:32: Reporter: You did not…I cannot believe this, that’s why.
05:36: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what I have said – that’s it!
05:39: Reporter: When you saw the American craft, (Helicopter) what did you think, why they came here?
05:42: Muhammad Bashir: We thought… this is it…why did they came? we thought why did they come? maybe..we… did not expect them to do anything, we thought maybe our Army is arriving at some centre and the army people were sleeping, there was no explosions or events taking place, nothing was happening, everybody was sleeping, for 20 minutes or so…
06:05: Reporter: The craft landed in front of your house, how did you feel about this?
06:08: Muhammad Bashir: I thought..just…understand…imagine..we thought we’re dead!
06:13: Reporter: But, how did the Americans return?
06:16: Muhammad Bashir: This is what I am saying; their Craft came and the helicopter was destroyed, HOW, could they return?
06:22: Reporter: Tell me this; you say, that you saw the dead bodies yourself….
06:25: Muhammad Bashir: one more thing, Madam, may I tell you;The people who were dropped from the craft, That walkway … that ..where our gates are…they banged them hard…and shouted… don’t come out…don’t do this, don’t do that, if you come out you will be shot..we will do this, we will do that, all the people who were dropped, all of them spoke Pashtu
(Afgahni Language) – Pakhtun!
06:49: Reporter: Who were these people?
06:49: Muhammad Bashir: This I do not know! Those who were dropped from the craft (helicopter), those people.
06:54: Reporter: This, somebody else told me – that they spoke Pashtu.
06:57: Muhammad Bashir: They WERE Pashtun! we do not know if they were working for the Americans, we do not know if they were working for Pakistan, we do not know if they were army people or civilian, what people, BUT they SPOKE PASHTU!
07:07: Reporter: You said you heard they were asking for Osama?
07:09: Muhammad Bashir: No, they didn’t ask me about Osama, they just said, do not come out, if you come out from your house, we will shoot you!
07:16: Reporter: Were these Pakistani people?
Muhammad Bashir: who?
07:18: Reporter: The ones who were saying that if you come out, we will shoot you.
07:20: Muhammad Bashir: They said that in Pashtu!
07:22: Reporter: so did they..were you coming out…exactly where were you, where was you standing when this happened?
07:26: Muhammad Bashir: Inside the house, on top of the roof, I was not in the house, just on top of the (flat)roof
07:29: Reporter: from Above the roof these people in the helicopter…
07:30: Muhammad Bashir: I was on the roof, sitting, no, lying down, on the roof,lying and watching this and what was happening
07:37: Reporter: Fear, was you not afraid? did you not think to phone someone?
07:40: Muhammad Bashir: From the house, They were calling me from downstairs, the children were calling me, come down, come down, and I told them stop making noise! go into your rooms, I am watching what is happening. Afterwards, I found out about this, that, Osama was killed here!
07:53: Reporter: How did you get inside? (the compound)
Muhammad Bashir: where?
Reporter: when there was fire.
Muhammad Bashir: the gate was open, when there was fire, the gate was open.
08:02: Reporter: The house gate was open?
08:03: Muhammad Bashir: The outer gate, the big gate, was open.
08:06: Reporter: You came from upstairs to downstairs?
08:08: Muhammad Bashir: I came down, from my own house into the gulley, I didn’t go alone inside the other house, 200 other people went inside! Everybody saw it!
08:15: Reporter: All 200 saw the dead bodies?
08:17: Muhammad Bashir: Everybody saw this.Whoever went inside they saw everything!
08:20: Reporting:the events at that time that are in your mind, please express them.
08:28: Muhammad Bashir: I have told you this and this, in my mind, this is what I have seen, when we were there, when we entered the gate, When the helicopter exploded, it scattered everywhere, one piece fell over there, one fell here, one here, a lot of pieces fell in the gulley outside, they reached up to the gulley and our house and also some pieces managed to reach onto my roof. so, the area of the open space there (in front of the house) is about four Kanal in size. It is a very large compound. You cannot see all of it from one location. Four Kanal is a big area, only in a small area you could possibly see everything. There I saw some people, in broken pieces, someone’s leg, someone’s arm, someone’s torso, someone’s head. Beside this, I did not see intensely, who are they, how are they, because I thought that one of our own craft had fallen and the people within it were our own people. Because they spoke Pashtu they could be pakistani.
09:35: Muhammad Bashir: but language does not necessarily mean.. by speaking it…the American language could be spoken, the agents can speak all sorts of languages. It could be that it is the American army and they could speak Pashtu and the people would think that it is our own people.
09:54: Reporter: Seeing the dead bodies – did you not feel fear?
09:57: Muhammad Bashir: But we were thinking about ourselves at the time, but seeing the dead bodies who felt frightened?
10:00: Reporter: When you went inside, what did you do after that, how did you come out?
10:02: Muhammad Bashir: we came out, our Army reached there, when the army arrived, they moved all the people back. Move aside, move aside! So we moved aside.Then they closed the area down.
10:13: Reporter: did Rais see this?
Muhammad Bashir: What?
Reporter: where was your cousin?
10:18: Muhammad Bashir: My cousin was at that time in the house.
10:20: Reporter: Did he go with you?
10:21: Muhammad Bashir: He was with me, but I did not notice when he was picked up.
10:28: Reporter: Has he returned yet?
10:29: Muhammad Bashir: Yes, he has returned. They picked him up and took him away.
10:32: Reporter: What is he saying?
10:34:Muhammad Bashir: I have not met him yet, he is at home they will not let him come out, we are not allowed to visit him, they will not let him come out.We have not met.
10:40: Reporter: You was not able find out, but since when have you been allowed out.
10:45: Muhammad Bashir: I did not go home, by going home…
Reporter:You have seen the fire you have seen the bodies how long did you stay there?
Muhammad Bashir: approximately, after five or six minutes, I left and came out..five, six minute..what happened …. the reason we left, was that after we entered, there was another small explosion, I do not know if the engine fail and there was another fire, it was a small explosion, after this explosion all the people ran out.
11:06: Muhammad Bashir: when we went out, nobody let us go back in again.
11:11: Reporter: Besides you, why is nobody else saying these things? why are you alone in this?
11:16: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what we have seen, that is what we are saying and we are speaking for this reason that, we are sad that such humble and nice people of our town, that has never seen such events, no fighting, no arguments, no animosity, No murders, such nice people of ours in this town and they have been branded as terrorists.
11:43: Reporter: Tell me; two helicopters came, lifted and took the rest of the people?
11:46:Muhammad Bashir: No – they did not take the rest of the people, because they did not even land, One came from the West and it left towards the North, the one that came from the North, left towards the South. They did not land!
12:00: Studio Reporter: these events that we showed you from Abotabad, there are many more things that we discovered about the compound where OBL was staying, there were vegetables planted there, what kind of vegetables, the person who grows the vegetables is the cousin of this person (Muhammad Bashir), whose interview we have shown. An extraordinary thing that he has said and he has sworn repeatedly on the veracity of his statement. this is from his own account and upon this account do view this. Yesterday we found out and it has been confirmed that there were two Ashfaq’s who lived there (in the compound):Mr Arshad and Mr Tariq who went shopping locally and used to buy international brands, the items they found in the house, dry dates, dried meat and things like this, this person who you saw in the interview in his house there was food from OBL’s house, he was given Kaabli Pillau (Rice) and such items were presented to him, There the view of local mosque people, what they think of OBL all these things we will present to you in an exclusive program an important newsbeat, todays time is finishing, do write to us at email@example.com where you can get other information as well and you can join us at newsbeat with Fareeha Idrees thats my favourite bit, do write to us, the time is up now, By your permission to leave, take care of yourself, In Allah’s care.
13:20: Reporter: I am now at standing in front of Abdullah Bin Zubair Mosque, this is the same mosque that is within walking distance from OBL’s house. Are you saying that if people found out that OBL was living here, would they be happy?
1st man: Possibly, people could be happy.
2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah.
End of translation
Anyone fluent in Urdu who wishes to dispute the translation should do so.
I asked the translator if he might contact the Pakistani news organization and inquire if the reporters had further investigated Bashir’s story. He replied that he could do so, but exactly 24 hours later “for some unknown reason” the news organization started to discredit Bashir by connecting “him to his cousin, who is accused of receiving foodstuffs from the household of OBL.”
Bashir’s cousin is the person who, according to the reporter (see 12:00 time line) had a vegetable garden inside the wall of the alleged bin Laden compound. Is it likely that with a hunted and dangerous person hiding within, locals would be permitted to have vegetable gardens inside the compound? The cousin’s vegetable garden obviously had to be redefined as “receiving foodstuffs from OBL.”
The translator offers his view on the 13:20 timeline:
“The final seconds of the video clip contain random people to generate and show some kind of sympathy with OBL in the district.
“It would be very difficult to find people in Pakistan who sympathise with OBL or the Taliban. The only people who do sympathise are the poor illiterate people who do not know about the religion and can easily be convinced of a distorted version of Islam.
Therefore, the closing part of the video contains, out of context expressions:
“1st man: Possibly, people could be happy. (Meaning it is possible that SOME people could be happy.)
2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah. (Meaning; he claimed to be Muslim, so he must have believed in Allah.)
“Therefore, it seems that although initially, the TV station was overjoyed with this interview, they changed their tune, twenty four hours later. (for some unknown reason.)”
Readers can arrive at their own conclusions. It seems clear that under intense pressure and serious threats from the US government, the Pakistani government fell in line with the US government’s claim that a commando raid had killed bin Laden and all had returned safely, and that the TV news organization also got the message to get in line.
It is likely that the many witnesses who observed the dead from the helicopter crash have been warned to keep quiet. However, a news organization, should one be so inclined, could certainly interview Bashir and the 200 others who saw the dead bodies. A good reporter, perhaps accompanied by trained psychologists, would be able to tell if people were lying out of fear and encourage some to speak anonymously.
I am confident that no news organization believes that it could confront such an important US national myth in this way. The killing of bin Laden satisfies the emotional need for revenge and justice. In the least, a news organization that challenged the government’s story would be cut off from all government sources and be denounced by politicians and a large percentage of the US population as an anti-American terrorist-serving organization.
OBL’s death will remain one of those many “truths” that rest on nothing but the government’s word.