This is misleading.
President Trump’s tweet on Monday continued his weekend verbal assaults on Pakistan and William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Mr. McRaven had in 2017 described the president’s attacks on the news media as “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.” This weekend, when asked about the comment during an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Trump called Mr. McRaven a “Hillary Clinton backer.” He also lamented that the former Special Operations commander did not take down Bin Laden sooner, adding that “everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”
Hours later, Mr. McRaven said he did not back Mrs. Clinton or anyone else in the 2016 election and reiterated his earlier comment about Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press. And on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan described Mr. Trump’s remarks as an inaccurate “tirade” and noted Pakistan’s participation in the war on terrorism — and the economic and human losses it had incurred.
Mr. Trump’s claim that he delivered a prescient warning about Bin Laden is hyperbolic. His book, “The America We Deserve,” which was published in January 2000, contains one reference to Bin Laden in 304 pages:
“One day we’re all assured that Iraq is under control, the U.N. inspectors have done their work, everything’s fine, not to worry. The next day the bombing begins. One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy number one, and U.S. jet fighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.
Mr. Trump continued:
Dealing with many different countries at once may require many different strategies. But there isn’t any excuse for the haphazard nature of our foreign policy. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every new conflict.”
This fleeting mention of Bin Laden was not exactly ahead of its time.
The Qaeda leader had for years been linked to numerous terrorist plots and was regarded as one of the most wanted terrorists in the world; as Mr. Trump noted in his tweet and his book, Bin Laden was the target of an unsuccessful missile strike in 1998. CNN reported in 1999 that American officials feared Bin Laden would plan an attack against the United States; he was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in Yemen that killed 17 American troops a year later.
Bin Laden is believed to have fled to Pakistan shortly after the battle of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan in December 2001. He eventually settled in a compound in Abbottabad, a short distance from Pakistan’s elite military academy.
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“It’s inconceivable that Bin Laden did not have a support system in the country that allowed him to remain there for an extended period of time,” John O. Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser at the time, said at a news conference after the 2011 raid that killed the Qaeda leader.
A Pakistani government report, leaked in 2013, said the country failed to catch Bin Laden because of “collective incompetence and negligence.” But it noted that the possibility that some officials helped Bin Laden “cannot be entirely discounted.”
Pakistan was one of the largest recipients of American foreign aid in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, receiving more than $20 billion in nearly 15 years. It will receive more than $335 million in foreign aid in the 2019 fiscal year, and received over $337 million in the 2018 fiscal year.
The Trump administration froze nearly all security aid to Pakistan in January.
Sources: “Fox News Sunday,” “The America We Deserve,” CNN, The Guardian, Congressional Research Service, The New York Times, ForeignAssistance.gov