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White House version of Osama Bin Laden killing a lie, says writer

By Tim Walker

The investigative journalist who exposed the torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib in 2004 has claimed the Obama administration's account of the death of Osama bin Laden is largely fabricated.

Writing in the London Review of Books, Seymour Hersh claims the official version of the hunt for Bin Laden - the CIA tracking the al-Qaeda leader to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed by US Navy Seals on May 2, 2011 - is riddled with falsehoods. Mr Hersh claims: "The White House's story might have been written by Lewis Carroll".

The allegations add to the swirl of conspiracy theories surrounding Bin Laden's death, which threatens to become a subject as ripe for speculation as his most devastating accomplishment, the 9/11 attacks. Responding to Mr Hersh's 10,000-word article, the White House said in a statement: "There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact-check each one."

Mr Hersh claims a Pakistani intelligence officer revealed the al-Qaeda leader's whereabouts in return for a $25m (£16m) reward offered by the US. Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, had captured Bin Laden and held him captive in the compound since 2006, the LRB article claims.

According to Mr Hersh, the US special forces raid was planned and staged with the co-operation of Pakistan's most senior military leaders, the army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI's former director general. A Pakistani intelligence officer led the Seals to Bin Laden's bedroom, Mr Hersh asserts, where the invalid terrorist was "torn apart with rifle fire".

Mr Hersh's claims are based predominantly on interviews with the former ISI director Asad Durrani, who retired from the Pakistani military in 1993, and with "a retired senior [US] intelligence official".

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