Ex Pak IB chief hid bin Laden in Abbotabad with Musharraf's approval: ex ISI chief

Last Updated: Sun, Jul 08, 2012 05:30 hrs

A retired Pakistani military officer, Brigadier Ijaz Shah is alleged to have harboured Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan for years, former head of Pakistan's spy agency, the directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), General Ziauddin Butt, has claimed.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, Ijaz Shah was also a dinner guest at Government House in Canberra in June 5 and was one of Pakistani's President Pervez Musharraf's staff during the latter's visit to the country.

In 2004, President Musharraf had nominated Shah to be High Commissioner to Australia. He was rejected by Canberra, it is understood, out of concern over his links to terrorists, the paper said.

Those present at the state dinner to included the Governor General and former commander of Australia's SAS, Major General Michael Jeffery, and the then Chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, it added.

Butt has claimed that Brigadier Shah harboured had the world's most wanted criminal for years, at the same time that other arms of the Pakistani military and the US were hunting him.

"The most important and all-powerful person in [the] Musharraf regime was Brigadier Ijaz Shah, then Intelligence Bureau chief," the paper quoted General Butt, as saying.

"I fully believe that Ijaz Shah had kept this man [Osama bin Laden, in Abbottabad] with the full knowledge of Pervez Musharraf," Butt added.

According to the paper, in a separate interview, General Butt said that the Abbottabad compound was built on the orders of Brigadier Shah.

Brigadier Shah, however, said that the allegations were groundless.

"Not only do I reject it, but any sensible man in the world will reject this allegation," the paper quoted Shah, as saying.

"I retired on March 18, 2008, the Abbottabad incident took place in May 2011, more than three years later. How is it possible that I am involved in this? The general knows that this is not true," Shah added.

Brigadier Shah said in more than a year since bin Laden's death, no evidence had been produced that he was harbouring him or knew of his whereabouts.

"The whole world has been looking to see who knew about this, but they have not found any proof", the paper quoted him, as saying.

While in Australia, General Musharraf said he believed bin Laden was living somewhere in the tribal belt of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the paper said.

Brigadier Shah, now in his mid-60s, is a man with strong links with Australia. His children studied in Melbourne and Sydney, and, in the weeks after Bhutto's death he reportedly left Pakistan for Australia for several months, it added. (ANI)