Washington/New Delhi, Sept. 12 (PTI): The flight path taken by two American MH-47 Chinook helicopters to Abbottabad in Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden in May last year has triggered a controversy with questions being raised as to whether they flew over Indian airspace.
The book, No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL by former SEAL Matt Bissonnette, contains a first-hand account of the raid and a map showing the flight path of the two helicopters after they took off from Jalalabad in Afghanistan at night on May 1. The map shows the helicopters crossing Pakistan’s eastern border with India before looping around and approaching Abbottabad from the southeast. Bissonnette participated in the operation using the pseudonym Mark Owen.
Questions about whether the helicopters flew over the Indian airspace were raised by a conservative news blog called Redstate.com. It says that “this apparent use of Indian air space” raises questions including whether the Indian government had advance knowledge about the Abbottabad mission and whether the US had sought and was granted permission to use Indian airspace. Indian Air Force sources in New Delhi today dismissed this hypothesis.
B. Raman, a security expert who retired as a senior officer of India’s external intelligence agency RAW, expressed doubts over whether the helicopters had flown into Pakistan via India. He said that in planning operations of this nature, the US is always worried that if the Pakistanis detect that the helicopters had used Indian airspace, they may misinterpret that the operation had originated in India.