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Pakistan Let China See U.S. ‘Stealth’ Chopper

August 15, 2011


Aug. 15 – Pakistan has allowed Chinese military engineers to photograph and take samples of a U.S. “stealth” helicopter that crashed during the operation in May which led to the death of former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

If the disclosure is substantiated, Pakistan’s move will further exacerbate the already fragile relationship between the two countries, which was seriously strained when the United States carried out a clandestine raid on May 2 to assassinate bin Laden in Abottabad, located some 30 miles northeast of Islamabad, without notifying Pakistani authorities.

“The U.S. now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad,” a person in “intelligence circles” was quoted as saying.

When U.S. Navy SEALs raided the fortified mansion of “Terrorist No.1,” one of two modified Blackhawk helicopters crashed into the wall of the mansion due to a technical malfunction, according to officials. The Navy SEALs team tried to destroy the helicopter after the crash, but the tail section remained intact.

Chinese engineers were allowed to investigate and photograph the wreckage as well as take samples from the helicopter’s tail which is reportedly designed with “stealth technology,” making it undetectable by Pakistan’s radar air defense system.

The U.S. National Security Council, according to related sources, called the situation “unfortunate.”

“We had explicitly asked the Pakistanis in the immediate aftermath of the raid not to let anyone have access to the damaged remains of the helicopter,” one official with close ties to the CIA told the Financial Times.

The Pakistani ISI has refuted reports, and Pakistan’s top general Ashfaq Kayani rejected speculation that China had been given access to the helicopter, according to the paper.

The surviving tail of the helicopter, photos of which have been spread widely on the Internet, was returned to the United States following a trip by U.S. Senator John Kerry to Islamabad in May, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy told reporters.

Contrary to the Pakistan-U.S. relationship, which has grown increasingly strained recently, the relationship between Islamabad and Beijing continues to grow stronger. China has close ties with Pakistan and it is the main supplier of weapons to the Pakistani military as well as a major investor in Pakistani telecommunications, ports and infrastructure, among others sectors.

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