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The Mideast

Pakistan spy agency claims credit for tracking down bin Laden

Nearly a year after Usama bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos, Pakistan's intelligence service is claiming credit for helping the CIA track down the terror leader.

Stung by lingering suspicions that it was complicit in sheltering bin Laden, an unnamed senior official with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) told The Washington Post, "The lead and the information actually came from us."

Another official said, "Any hit on [terror group] Al Qaeda anywhere in the world has happened with our help."

Al Qaeda head bin Laden was killed May 2 last year by U.S. Navy SEALs who launched an audacious raid on his secured compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad, north of Islamabad.

The fact that the world's most wanted terrorist was living right under the noses of Pakistan authorities put further strain on already tense relations between Washington and Islamabad.

As the anniversary of the successful US operation nears, the Pakistani officials told the Post that the ISI provided the CIA with a cell phone number in 2010 that eventually led to an Al Qaeda courier, along with information that the phone had last been detected in Abbottabad.

The ISI said it did not know then that the number belonged to the Al Qaeda courier.

"They [U.S. officials] knew who the number belonged to," an official told the paper. "But after that their cooperation with us ended."

"It is the story of an extreme trust deficit and betrayal," the other ISI official complained.

The ISI officials said Washington officials were happy to acknowledge their help in private -- but never in public.

Washington denied the claims.

"The fact is our knowledge of the number didn't come from them telling us about it," an official said.