Following are excerpts from an interview with Pakistani security analyst Ali Mahr, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on May 27, 2011:
Ali Mahr: I don't see why it should be surprising that Bin Laden was found in a large Pakistani city. Abbottabad is not a small town. All the top Al-Qaeda commanders arrested in Pakistan, by Pakistani forces – like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zbeida, Ramzi bin Al-Shiba, and Abu Yasser Al-Jaziri – were found in Pakistan's largest cities, like Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, or Faisalabad. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Bin Laden had stayed for a long time in a large Pakistani city.
Interviewer: There is military presence in Abbottabad. There is a military college and some military and security compounds there. Many people are asking how Bin Laden managed to live for years in this city, despite its special [military] character.
Ali Mahr: This was the tactic Bin Laden chose for his protection. Instead of staying in mountains and villages, where there are few people, he chose to stay in a large urban city, where no one would be suspicious, especially since he did not leave the house too often. Local Pashtun families lived there as well, so no one would be suspicious if Pashtuns would come and go.
I can say that this was a successful tactic. The army and the intelligence agency, as institutions, did not necessarily know this, but certain individuals within these institutions may have known, and who may even have been sympathetic to him. It is well known that within the Pakistani intelligence agency and army, there are people who sympathize with Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.
We have seen several attacks on former president Pervez Musharraf's convoy and on other officials, and eventually, after the investigation, officers and soldiers were arrested for being in contact and for coordinating with the attackers.
Interviewer: Does this mean that some military men, perhaps of low ranks, may have helped Osama Bin Laden, or may have turned a blind eye all these years in Abbottabad?
Ali Mahr: We cannot exclude this possibility. As you know, the former senior officers were in contact with Bin Laden and coordinated with him, in the days of the Afghan Jihad and later on. Therefore, it is possible. It is well known that several former Pakistani generals visited Sudan and met with Osama Bin Laden when he was there.