The events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad have revealed the two faced media once again, this time in it’s worst form. This week a report by Agha Khalid on Osama bin Laden’s death appeared in both The News and Jang. These reports appeared on the same day, by the same reporter, and in newspapers owned by the same media group (Jang). But there was a difference between the two reports. Actually there were several important differences. One was the language – The News being an English language newspaper and Jang being an Urdu language newspaper. But the differences didn’t stop there…
Here is how Agha Khalid’s piece appeared in the English language newspaper The News (Jang Group):
KARACHI: Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had taken oath from his sons, guards and colleagues that if the Americans ever arrested him, his aides would shoot him instantly, sources told The News on Tuesday.
When US forces raided the compound where Osama was living, one of Osama’s guards and colleagues, Ahmad Shaikh, rushed to the second floor. Osama asked him if he remembered his oath. When Ahmad replied in the affirmative, Osama pulled out his pistol and gave it to Ahmad who fired a shot at Osama’s chest. Osama fell down and pointed his finger at his head. Ahmad then shot Osama in the head. In the meantime, US soldiers entered and grappled with Ahmad. They beat him up and took him along with them.
Here is how Agha Khalid’s piece appeared in the Urdu language newspaper Jang (Jang Group):
Osama’s aide shot him in the head and the chest, American Marines grabbed him.
Daughter embraced the dying fathers body, American Marines hit her with rifle butts
Among other things retrieved from the secret hideout were the corpses of an Arab, 2 pakhtoons, a woman and 2 children.
Pets included 6 rabbits, 150 hens, a bhains (black variation of cow), a cow, a calf and a dog.
Karachi (Report/Agha Khalid) America’s proclaimed enemy number 1 and Al-Qaida’s leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad’s local rural area of Bilal Town in his secret hideout, had kept 6 rabbits, 150 hens, a black cow, a brown cow and a calf as pets. Amazingly, Osama had adopted the hobby of the one person who called Osama his biggest enemy in Pakistan, General Pervaiz Musharraf, and kept a black Alsatian dog as a pet too who is still there. It is not known whether he kept the dog for pleasure or from a security point of view. Two cars in the house, one of which is a Suzuki Potohar license plat RIA- 3676 used by Osama’s sons and the second a Suzuki Carry Van M-7743 being use by Arshad, are still in good condition.
Jang has received reports created after Osama’s death, by different sensitive security institutions that took into account statements by 22 year old daughter Amal found alive but wounded and 26 year old woman Maryam in a big Rawalpindi hospital, where they are being treated. According to reports prepared by his close aides, Osama had taken an oath from his sons and trust worthy guards that if his arrest is inevitable that they should shoot him. By his own account, he did not want to be captured by the Americans alive and did not want to die a haram death by shooting himself. That is why survivors say that after hearing the helicopter sounds on top of the house and later on sounds of some people jumping on the rooftop and running towards their rooms and after listening to the blinding firing, Ahmed Sheikh came out of his room and started running towards Osama Bin Laden’s room who by that time had opened the room door and come out of his room. As soon as he saw Ahmed Sheikh he asked him “Do you remember your oath?” when Ahmed Sheikh nodded his head indicating a yes Osama extended him his own pistol he had in his hand, which he always kept by his bedside. By that time American Marines had reached the lower level so Ahmed fired at Osama’s chest.
Osama fell down and even with blood coming out of his chest, pointed weakly at his head to be made the target. Ahmed then fired the second shot. By that time Americans had come very near him and were asking him to drop his pistol while pointing their weapons at him. As soon as he dropped his pistol, the American Marines grabbed him and started torturing him. During this they kicked Osama bin Laden, who was taking his last breaths, with anger and hatred. At this situation, his daughter embraced the dying body of her father on which the American Marines hit her with their rifle butts seriously wounding her and now she is under treatment in a hospital in Rawalpindi.
American Marines on their way back took Osama’s dead body, Ahmed Sheikh, and that pistol which Ahmed Sheikh used to shoot Osama. According to reports at the time of this American special Marines operation, a woman, a child and 2 men died. One of these men is Osama’s son Ibrahim whose dead body is with Pakistani authorities. Among other things retrieved from the secret hideout of Osama were the corpses of an Arab, 2 pakhtoons, a woman and 2 children. According to another report, the wounded included 1 Arab, 4 women and 6 children. In a contrast to claims by American marines, reports by close “aides” to Osama also claim that Americans, along with Osama, took along his extremely trusted aid Ahmed Sheikh who shot him, the pistol that was used to shoot Osama and also took with them some women and children.
Along with other things that were recovered from Osama’s house that are still there, in bad condition, is a sports cycle, an exercise machine that according to the survivors was used by Osama and his sons, computer, hard disk, printer, 42 inch LCD and a mixture machine used for construction of houses. Other than this, all the rooms have beds in conditions that show that sleepers woke up in a condition of panic. These rooms show signs of hand fighting and resistance.
The picture of the house has been painted as that of a fortress type house that was constructed on 6 Marla created in 2 pieces. This seemingly ordinary house from outside is clearly divided in 2 parts from inside. In a smaller area, a small house was created alongside 3 bedrooms, which, according to the statements of the survivors, was residence of Charsaddah and Swat natives Arshad and his cousin Tariq Khan. Tariq Khan was unmarried. Arshad had one wife and 4 children. His oldest son Asif’s age is reported to be around 8 years and the age of the husband and wife themselves to be roughly between 40-45.
American Marines, upon entering the house, targeted this part first, in which Arshad and Tariq were residing. This part clearly shows signs of resistance, by Arshad and Tariq and hence American Marines killed them all. Along with Tariq and Arshad, his wife and 4 children were also killed in this attack. The other portion was residence of Osama Bin Laden and his family. Next to it was a big lawn in which the cattle were tied. Rabbits were pets too and there was small room created separately for the dog. There was a guest room created in the area where Tariq and Arshad lived where foreign guests came and stayed who according to survivors never stayed for more than one night and when such guests came, Osama Bin Laden didn’t sleep throughout the night but stayed awake chatting with guests all night long.
According to reports created by national agencies, by the end of 2002, Tariq Khan came to Abbotabad and contacted Fazal-ur-Rehman son of Hajji Ahmed Zaman, who was a farmer and owner of this land in this new city. Tariq Khan bought 3 Canal land from him and then he would visit the land from time to time. After some time Arshad came along with him and made a deal with Fazal-ur-Rehman once again for 3 Marla land. And this is how in the cover of the 2003 earthquake reconstruction in this area, the construction of this particular house was also started.
A native of this area Zain Mohammad, son of Ameer Husain Qaum Abbasi was appointed the watchman for this house. And he stayed the watchman for this till the construction of this house was completed. He said in his statement the 25 to 26 people participated in the construction of this house on a daily basis and great attention was paid even to minute details. These people say that now they realize this house was being created for someone important that is why the security point of view was given utmost importance in its construction. During this time, Arshad often used to come from Peshawar. He used to make payments to the local contractor Gul Ahmed constructing the house. Gul Ahmed is told to be a native of the village Laryan near Abbotabad. Watchman Zain Mohammad was let go after the construction of the house was complete and after that no one was allowed to go inside the house.
Reports also mention that the house had two main gates and both had been installed with automatic locks and these automatic locks had the characteristic that they opened and closed themselves after the specific security codes were put in. Arshad and Tariq lived together in one part of the house with their families. Arshad had a French cut beard. He used to go to the nearby mosque regularly to offer prayers. He often gave charity for the construction of the mosque. He often also took his children and walked around the village or went to specific shops in the village for supplies. He also took care of feed for birds and animals kept for Osama bin Laden.
Reports also mention that 2 helicopters belonging to the Marines operation team reached on top of Osama Bin Laden’s house at approximately 11:45 and about 11 or 12 commandos repelled down from one of the helicopters and jumped on the rooftop. After that one of the helicopter returned and the other increased its altitude and started monitoring the operation. After approximately 10-15 minutes 3 more helicopters arrived. Now 4 helicopters were hovering above Osama Bin Laden’s house. Then suddenly one of the helicopters tried to land in the yard of the house, which according to report gatherers is because of wanting to transfer Osama’s dead body to one of the helicopters. Because of this helicopter tried to land in the narrow yard and crashed.
Later on Obama’s dead body and some people were put on helicopters by attaching ladders. Then these helicopters, after the completion of a 40-minute duration operation, headed towards an unknown destination. Because of firing and cannon shots from the helicopter, both the gates and eastern walls of the house have collapsed and the roof has also sustained heavy damage. Just like this, another source claims that American Marines have used an airbase connected to Tarbela dam for the operation and then later on Osama’s dead body along with the captured people were first taken to a NATO cantonment connected to Kabul airport and then to an airbase carrier in the Arabian ocean.
Big difference, isn’t it?
Agha Khalid is very careful to humanize Osama from the very beginning, describing his livestock and pets as if Osama were any common man. The reporter describes in fine detail the style beard worn by Osama’s trusted aide Arshad and his charity works. The families of Osama and his aides are noted by counting the number of women and children. And there’s more here than will be readily apparent if you can’t read the original Urdu. For example, Agha Khalid uses terms like “thay” and “unhoon” and “un” “gaye” etc that imply respect for Osama. Reading Agha Khalid’s description, one gets the impression that Osama was a simple villager and not a billionaire international terrorist responsible for countless deaths hiding from every intelligence agency in the world.
Agha Khalid goes on describing the brutality of the American Marines (actually they weren’t Marines but Navy SEALS according to US reports) as kicking bin Laden while he’s laying on the floor dying. He describes quite dramatically Osama’s daughter rushing over to embrace her dying father and, once again, American Marines brutally attacking her while she mourns. Throughout the piece, Agha Khalid counts the number of women and children he claims were killed, making it seem like a ruthless massacre. The entire drama is perfectly concocted to arouse the sympathies for Osama bin Laden as an unjustly abused martyr and the Americans as vicious attack dogs.
But the level of detail given to this piece also gives it away as pure fiction. In order to describe the scene such as this, the author or his source would have to be present in the room from before and after the Americans arrived. As the saying goes, ‘dead men tell no tales’, so how is this possible?
Since this piece by Agha Khalid must be pure fiction, then it naturally follows to ask what purpose it is intended to serve. The immediate answer is troubling – a sympathetic tale filled with honourific terms suggests that the intention of the piece is to stoke the flames of anti-Americanism and favour for militants. A further question that must be asked is whether such reporting represents the intentions of Jang Group or whether they were put up to this task by someone and who that someone is.
The problem with two-faced media could not be more boldly illustrated than in the comparison of these pieces by the same reporter carried in newspapers owned by the same media group (Jang). The single paragraph printed in The News is little more than a questionable report that an aide and not American troops killed Osama. But behind the veil of Urdu, away from Western eyes, Jang Group paints a sympathetic portrait of a simple man and his family brutally attacked and murdered by a nameless, faceless invading force from the West.
The nation is struggling to answer difficult questions such as how an international terrorist like Osama bin Laden could be hiding in plain sight of Kakul and how a team of American commandos entered Pakistani territory and left without being detected. The people are confused and puzzled about what has happened on that fateful day and the several years leading up to it. As we look for answers, we are being hand fed propaganda by a schizophrenic media that chooses its tales to suit its audience.