U.S. President Donald Trump repeated on Monday that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011, should have been captured much earlier, casting blame on his predecessors and Pakistan.
“Of course we should have captured Osama bin Laden long before we did,” the U.S. president tweeted, echoing remarks he gave to Fox News Sunday that drew the ire of Pakistan, where bin Laden had been hiding.
“I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center,” he continued. “President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!”
Ten years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, bin Laden was found to be hiding in Abbottabad, where he was killed in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs, approved by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
The assault sent relations between the wayward allies to a new low.
In his interview on Sunday, the Republican leader had said he canceled assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan earlier this year because “they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”
Trump had also told Fox News that bin Laden had lived “beautifully in Pakistan and what I guess in what they considered a nice mansion. I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan hit back at Trump’s claim, calling on the president to name an ally that has sacrificed more against militancy. “Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. U.S. ‘aid’ was a miniscule $20 bn,” Khan tweeted.
Robert O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL who claims to have fired the shots that killed bin Laden, was terse in his reply. “The mission to get bin Laden was bipartisan. We all wanted to get him as soon as we could,” tweeted O’Neill, who regularly appears on Fox News as a security expert.
Former director of national intelligence James Clapper was more direct in his criticism of Trump. “It’s really a slam at the intelligence community, who was responsible for tracking down Osama bin Laden, and reflects, I think, his complete ignorance about what that took,” Clapper told CNN.
Former CIA director John Brennan also hit back at Trump’s remark. “You constantly remind us how substantively shallow & dishonest you are on so many fronts, which is why we are in such dangerous times,” he wrote on Twitter, quoting Trump’s tweet about bin Laden.