There are some facts in the hunting down of Osama bin Laden that will never be officially revealed. One of them is the Indian angle. While the RAW and CIA may fight shy of admitting it, I have to admit—support from a ‘friend’ in Delhi was vital to the operation. It was in July 2010 that our intelligence was first tipped off about “a high-level target” hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Of course, CIA chief Leon Panetta had a hunch about the identity of the person hiding in the three-storeyed bungalow but one had to be sure. Unfortunately, after months of pretending to be peasants growing cabbages in a patch of green near the house, Leon’s boys were nowhere close to the truth. That’s when I thought of swinging into action.
First off I consulted secretary of state Hillary Clinton. She suggested I get in touch with a former RAW operative she’d met when she visited India in 2000. I was told to dial someone called Q. “Hello, Mr Presidentji,” he said, “Q this side at your service, Hillary madam has already spoken to me.” I told him about the need to identify a target hiding in Abbottabad. “Q, the trouble is that whoever is hiding out there doesn’t have a cellphone, landline or internet connection. So, it’s impossible to ascertain his identity over the phone or e-mail.” Q was quick to understand the problem and came up with a solution. “Presidentji,” he drawled, “I suggest you immediately seek the help of Amar Singh, the politician, who is an expert with all things phon(e)y.”
My research revealed that Q was right. However, I decided not to summon Amar Singh to the US and give the game away. Instead, I wore a crumpled south Indian mundu (dhoti), a pink shirt, gelled my hair with coconut oil and travelled on a fake passport to New Delhi. After checking into a lodge at Paharganj, I took an auto to India Gate. Amar Singh was waiting for me. Well, I was pleased to find he was not the kind of guy who wastes time over formalities. “Well Barry (how the hell did he know that’s what they called me in school!) I have already solved your problem. You see, how does one contact someone on the phone when that person has no connection? It’s simple—you get a cellphone to him and then call him. If Osama doesn’t get himself a phone, then the phone must go to Osama.” I must admit I was very impressed with his ingenuity. That’s not all, he had already passed on a Nokia to the man hiding on the third floor through one of the boys who played football near the house in Abbottabad.
“Barryji,” said Amar Singh grinning from ear to ear “Please use my phone and call your man now.” That’s exactly what I did. “Is that the Sheikh Osama bin Laden?” I enquired. “Osama speaking,” came the reply. That was confirmation enough. I quickly sent an SMS to Leon: “OBL’s in Abbottabad.” What happened next is history. But it would not have happened without Amar Singh’s timely help...
(As imagined by Ajith Pillai)