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Reports: Pakistan Has Freed Bin Laden's Former Bodyguard

June 2001: al-Qaida members training in Afghanistan (frame grab from an al-Qaida video).
AFP/Getty Images
June 2001: al-Qaida members training in Afghanistan (frame grab from an al-Qaida video).

"Pakistan has freed a senior al-Qaeda commander, who served as a bodyguard to Osama bin Laden," Britain's The Telegraph reports, citing a "senior security source."

CBS News says it has been told the same thing by "two senior Pakistani police officials."

As CBS adds, the release "raises more questions about Pakistan's commitment to tackle Islamic militant groups which operate within parts of the nation with near impunity."

According to the Telegraph, "Amin al-Haq, who escaped from Afghanistan with the al-Qaeda leader in 2001 and went on to become a key financial aide, was detained in Lahore three years ago by Pakistan's intelligence agency." But now the security source tells the newsaper that al-Haq was "arrested mistakenly" and that "police failed to prove any charge of his association with Osama bin Laden."

However, Al-Haq has been called "security coordinator for Usama bin Laden" by the U.N. Security Council.

His release comes as tensions remain high between Pakistan and the U.S. The U.S. wants Pakistan to do more to take down terrorist groups operating within its borders. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress earlier this month that one of those groups is a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's spy agency. In an interview aired on Morning Edition today, Mullen told NPR's Steve Inskeep that he stands by those words.

Bin Laden was killed by U.S. commandos on May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Update at 12:50 p.m. ET. More On Al-Haq:

Among the many U.S. government documents made public in recent months by WikiLeaks is one that describes al-Haq as having been bin Laden's "personal security advisor." It states that in November 2001, according to a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, al-Haq paid three tribal elders $10,000 each for their assistance in "security arrangements along the Pakistan-Afghan border."

Note: NPR follows Associated Press style on the spelling of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. Other organizations do not.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.