Lynchpin in Laden hunt back with al-Qaeda

Lynchpin in Laden hunt back with al-Qaeda

Shortly after the CIA decided to close the secret prisons, the US intelligence agency returned al-Qaeda operative Hassan Ghul in 2006 to his native Pakistan, which had been demanding his release since his capture two years earlier.

Pakistan held Ghul for at least a year before he was released, eventually making his way back to al-Qaeda to help with operations against the US.

Pakistan’s decision to free Ghul, a midlevel al-Qaeda operative, is yet another troubling revelation at a time when the US is rethinking its relationship with Pakistan and whether it can be a trusted ally in combatting terrorism. Members of Congress have talked about ending aid to Pakistan after Laden was found hiding out in an urban area not far from a military garrison.

Last week, CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted Pakistan’s intelligence service about tipping off militants running bomb factories aimed at killing US soldiers in Afghanistan.

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