Prior to his retirement, a career of 31 years in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) took current Providence resident Larry Boothe around the world, including Pakistan. That is where US forces last weekend killed Osama bin Laden. “This was a long time coming,” says Boothe. “Once they discovered where he was then they had a plan as to what they were going to do. Obama gave the okay and the Pakistanis agreed. They went in with two helicopters; one of them malfunctioned and crashed. Fortunately none of our people was hurt but they had to destroy the helicopter. “There was a firefight and there was no way Osama was going to get out of that against our Special Forces guys. They killed him and took control of the body.” Boothe said he was aware the operation started last August. In the years since 9/11 there have been charges that Pakistan was protecting Bin Laden but Boothe said it was a specific tribe. “It wasn’t Pakistan, it was the Pashtune Tribe,” says Boothe. “When he was driven out of Afghanistan he went to the Pashtunes and they gave him clearance that they would protect him. They do that often, even to people they don’t like. So he had freedom of movement in the Northwest Territory. We knew for some time he was moving around that area and also near the Afghanistan border.” Boothe said it was in 2005 that bin Laden built the compound where he was eventually found and killed. “For years he (bin Laden) watched his organization get picked apart, one-by-one, until it was reduced to where there weren’t very many left of the original cadre.” Boothe said it is important to consider that bin Laden’s right hand man, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahri, is still at large. “Obviously he was not there when the compound was attacked, he may not have even been in the area. There has been some question as to how strong the upper leadership of al-Qaida has been in the last four or five years.” Boothe said the strongest terrorism threat in the world is found in the organizations bin Laden’s group helped to stand up, train and fund that are now spread all over the globe. “You’ve got splinter groups all over the globe. The question is, what will be the reaction now that they’ve lost bin Laden, the leader? Usually, once they go off in those splinter groups, they’re pretty much on their own.” Boothe said we should now watch to see if some of the splinter groups decide to make some attacks in honor of bin Laden. “In this country we are now going to go into a fairly high state of paying attention to what’s going on around the world.”
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