Published August 15, 2011
WASHINGTON – The Pakistani government allowed Chinese military engineers to photograph and take samples from the downed top-secret helicopter U.S. Navy SEALs left behind after they successfully killed Usama bin Laden, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
The report comes after months of speculation and rumors that Pakistan gave the Chinese access to the super-stealth chopper.
"The U.S. now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad," the paper quoted one person in intelligence circles as saying, referring to the Pakistani spy agency.
The Financial Times reported that President Obama's national security team has been discussing the incident and quoted one official as saying the situation "doesn't make us happy."
"We had explicitly asked the Pakistanis in the immediate aftermath of the raid not to let anyone have access to the damaged remains of the helicopter," said the source, described as someone close to the CIA.
China is increasingly seen as a growing rival to the military power of the U.S., particularly in the Pacific Ocean. Earlier this week the Chinese government announced that its first aircraft carrier successfully completed its first sea trials.
The US Navy SEALs successfully killed the Al Qaeda leader in his Abbottabad, Pakistan, hideout on May 2.
The SEALs flew into Pakistan in helicopters equipped with top-secret stealth technology. One of the advanced choppers was rendered inoperable after it crashed into the wall of the terror chief's compound. The SEALs attempted to destroy the helicopter, but parts of the helicopter, including its tail, remained intact.
Obama ordered the SEALs to complete the raid without the permission of the Pakistani government, further complicating the already tense diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
China and Pakistan have for decades had strong military ties, and the U.S. government officially requested that Pakistan not grant the Chinese government access to the mostly-destroyed helicopter.
An unnamed senior U.S. government official told the Financial Times it is difficult to determine how useful access to the helicopter would have been to the Chinese.