Pakistan News Service

Monday Mar 4, 2024, Shaban 23, 1445 Hijri

The mystery of helicopter crash

01 November, 2011

By Dr. Ghayur Ayub

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The death of OBL added another scepticism about the man whose whole life spiralled around sceptic stories. Someone rightly said 'all information about bin Laden should be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism'. Even President Obama gave it a sceptic touch when he used the term 'remains' instead of 'body' in his news breaking announcement when he said 'the military took custody of his remains'. Scepticism reached its peak on the night he was supposedly killed in a compound in Abbottabad. Enough is written on the subject in a short span of time. But in the whole episode, the crash of the helicopter was not given its due importance. All we heard was that one helicopter had crashed giving no details except that there were no casualties.

Its relevance is as important in the incidence as the relevance of Building 7 in the collapse of the Twin Towers. As the answer to the collapse of the Twin Towers lies in the answer to the collapse of Building 7; similarly, the crux of May 2nd episode is in the crash of the helicopter. Before coming to this point, let us see what the Americans didn't find in the compound where OBL supposedly lived.

We are told that he suffered from the following infirmities;

1) Chronic Renal disease; there have been CIA reports along with other identical reports that bin Laden required dialysis because of kidney disease. It was corroborated by President Pervez Musharraf in 2002.

2) Marfan Syndrome; reports also mention that he suffered from Marfan Syndrome which affects the heart valves.

3) Cardiomegaly (Enlarged heart); this condition was mentioned in a CIA report. It was most probably caused by the torn or diseased heart valves.

4) Diabetes, Hypotension (low blood pressure); A biography, published in Egypt in 1991 reported that OBL suffered from low blood pressure and diabetes. The report also mentioned he received insulin shots for diabetes.

5) Injuries; all his life he received injuries from toes to back onto chest and neck. A video tape released in December 2001 showed intelligence officers saying "he had suffered a severe chest wound". According to Katzman, "he wasn't able to move his arm much" because of a shrapnel wound. Time Magazine (July 1, 2002) mentioned "he probably suffers from secondary osteoporosis" There had been other reports confirming the injuries. That could have been the reason he used walking stick.

With this track record he had to keep the relevant medicines and dialysing machine at home especially the latter to avoid risking been tracked down. On May 2, 2011, he was ambushed and supposedly killed at his home. A few days later, we were shown blood stained floors, furniture and one or two dead bodies. Mary Anne Weaver, the author of "Pakistan: Deep Inside the World's Most Frightening State" stated,' according to the intelligence people I've talked to in Washington, there was no evidence of a dialysis machine in the compound' The exclusive video obtained by ABC News inside the compound also did not show any evidence of dialysis equipment. All the video showed was the medication bottles containing petroleum jelly, eye drops, olive oil, sunflower oil, an antiseptic and a nasal spray. There were no pain killers or medicines for kidney disease, low blood pressure, diabetes or the other conditions he suffered from.

Does it mean that the Navy Seals did not do their job properly and failed to search all the rooms? That is unlikely for the training they have for such jobs. Not finding the medicines and dialysing machine opens up a big question of validity. Secondly, the whole episode was shown live in the White House to President Obama and his team. We were told OBL's dead body was not shown because of the disfigurement. But they could have shown him just before he was shot to confirm that they got him in the compound. Not showing 'a dead or alive' Osama in the compound created yet another scepticism and raising a genuine question whether OBL was in the compound. If he wasn't there; then where was he?

In February, 2004, Iranian state radio claimed, "Osama bin Laden was arrested a long time ago, but Bush is intending to use it for propaganda manoeuvring in the presidential election," According to another report Osama bin Laden died of kidney failure soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks. In 2002, the FBI’s top counter terrorism official, Dale Watson said, "I personally think he is probably not with us any more." A Taliban leader told the Pakistan Observer on December 21, 2002, that Bin Laden died in mid-December in the vicinity of the Tora Bora mountains. The source claimed that bin Laden was laid to rest honourably in his last abode and his grave was made as per his Wahabi belief. Similar news was reported by Fox News. Alex Jones was told live on the radio in 2002 by high-level Council on Foreign Relations members that Osama Bin Laden had died of kidney failure in early 2002.

According to, Benazir Bhutto Osama bin Laden had been killed by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Another report stated that he died in an area so remote near Tora Bora that the best intelligence could not find him. Hundreds of reports from all over the world pointed towards his death. Had he been living, it would have been impossible not to track him because of his chronic diseases and dialysing procedures. This point was rightly raised by Adil Najam, professor of international relations at Boston University who stated that 'the need for medical treatment could have made it easier for the Americans to track him down'.

With this background, the crash of the American helicopter becomes important for the following reasons;

The wreckage became a proof or a signature that it was an American operation confirming the death of already dead OBL.

Without the wreckage the operation could have been taken as Pak army's.

The wreckage distanced Pak army/ISI from the operation to degrade army/ISI and upgrade Navy Seals.

The wreckage brought down the image of army/ISI (one of the objectives of CIA) in the eyes of the public.

The wreckage must have had blood from injuries of the pilots and other occupants if it was a real crash.

The army experts who took away the wreckage must have found the cause of the crash and the evidence of blood etc using forensic techniques.

They must have found the evidence whether the helicopter was brought down deliberately by the Americans, as we know that except for it's tail section the rest was destroyed by the Seals.

Finally, each of the two UH-60 Black Hawks used for the attack can carry 11 troops with equipment and lift 2,600 lb (1,170 kg) of cargo internally. How were the occupants of two helicopters evacuated by one helicopter unless the crashed helicopter was empty and the crash landing was part of the plan.

We saw that the Americans moved fast to collect the wreckage 'fearing' that Pakistan might let Chinese examine it and expose its stealth technology. But there could be other reason than technology falling in wrong hands. To me the helicopter crash at Abbottabad is akin to the fall of building 7 at New York.

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