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Officials in Pakistan received a letter stating the Taliban’s plot to kidnap a high-ranking government official with the intention of exchanging him or her for bin Laden’s family. U.S. Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden, former terror chief, in May during a helicopter-borne raid in north-western Pakistan. The raid took place in one of bin Laden’s homes where he was hiding.
Focused on killing bin Laden, the U.S. Seals took his dead body from the compound but left at least two of his wives and several children in the home. Soon after the family members were detained by the Pakistani authorities, according to the Associated Press. Pakistan’s interior ministry received the letter, which warned of the kidnapping plot, on August 23.
An AP reporter obtained a copy of the letter, stamped “secret” on Friday. The letter said that the kidnapping warning was reliable. No information on specifically which Pakistani official the Taliban plans to kidnap was given. The letter did say that the kidnapping plot would most likely take place in one of Pakistan’s four provincial capitals – Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
The letter was received by Pakistan just three days before Shahbaz Taseer, the son of a weathly provincial governor, was killed by Islamist militant on August 26.
The New York Times reported that Shahbaz’s father and former governor of Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, was killed in January in Islamabad. The assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, who was one of Salman’s security guard, later said the killing of Salman was because of the governor’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
The deaths of Taseer father and son are not the only recent high-profile kidnappings that have taken place. Another abduction occurred in Lahore in August. The AP reported that on August 15, gunmen seized 70-year-old American aid expert, Warren Weinstein, from his house. Weinstein remains missing. The police declined to speculate on who may be holding the man.
Minister Rehman Malik said that there is no clear connention between the recent kidnapping of Shahbaz Taseer’s and the plot on to free bin Laden’s family. This is not the first time Pakistan has dealt with serious kidnapping plots by the Taliban. Pakistan has reportedly released Taliban prisoners before in exchange for kidnapped government officials as well as army officers, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, The Huffington Post reported that Pakistani police are preventing foreign journalists and other visitors from getting close to the house of bin Laden ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Danish Ambassador to Pakistan and his wife as well as two French journalists, were among several people detained this week in Abbottabad – the town where bin Laden’s last hideout was located.
They were held briefly before being allowed to leave. Ambassador Uffe Wolffhechel said he asked security officers at a checkpoint on the road to bin Laden’s house whether he and his wife could get in viewing range of the compound and “they said ‘we are sorry, no,’ and we shook hands and said ‘have a nice day’.”
The Huffington Post reported that Wolffhechel and his wife were held for around two hours while officers checked their papers. Karim Khan, Abbottabad police officer, said the authorities were preventing journalists and foreigners from visiting the compound because it is regarded as evidence in investigations into how bin Laden lived there and how the CIA found him.
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