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Obama: We'd raid Pakistan again if militant found

President Barack Obama said he would approve a new incursion into Pakistan if the United States found another leading militant there, he said in a BBC interview aired on Sunday.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

President Barack Obama said he would approve a new incursion into Pakistan if the United States found another leading militant there, he said in a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday.

U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in a raid on his fortified compound in Pakistan on May 2, ending a manhunt for the world's most-wanted militant.

Asked if Obama would do the same again if the United States discovered another "high-value target" in Pakistan or another country, such as a senior al-Qaida member or Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he said he would "take the shot."

"We are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan. But we cannot allow someone who is actively planning to kill our people or our allies' people, we can't allow those kind of active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action," Obama told the BBC.

"I had made no secret. I had said this when I was running for the presidency, that if I had a clear shot at bin Laden, that we'd take it."

Omar fled to Pakistan after the Taliban government was overthrown in late 2001 by U.S.-backed Afghan forces and is still in hiding there, U.S. officials have long maintained. Islamabad has denied reports he is in Pakistan.

The president told the BBC's "Andrew Marr Show" that he hoped the raid would be "a wake-up call where we start seeing a more effective cooperative relationship" with Pakistan, an important but awkward ally in Washington's fight against al-Qaida-inspired terrorism.

The country is furious that that United States sent the Navy SEALs to raid bin Laden's Abbottabad hideaway without first informing Pakistani authorities.

Mole inside Abbottabad compound?Many in the U.S. suspect bin Laden must have had official help during his years hiding in Pakistan. Obama said it was unclear who knew of his whereabouts.

"What we know is that for him to have been there for five or six years probably required some sort of support external to the compound," Obama said. "Whether that was non-governmental, governmental, a broad network, or a handful of individuals, those are all things that we are investigating, but we're also asking the Pakistanis to investigate."

A report from The Sunday Times suggested that the CIA might have had a mole inside the compound, citing a document it says was left behind in the residence after the raid and later obtained by the British newspaper.

The pocket guide provided clear detail on the occupants, listing the names and ages of those present and even describing bin Laden's clothing, the Times report said.

"Always wears light-colored shawal [sic] kameez with a dark vest," the newspaper quoted the document as saying about bin Laden's apparel. "Occasionally wears light-colored prayer cap."

The report also said the guide suggested that bin Laden's youngest wife, Amal, gave birth to twins in Pakistan, as it referred to "two unidentified children" born to her this year.

A retired CIA officer tempered claims that there could have been a mole in the compound, telling the Times that it was possible there was a source on the inside, "But it's also possible this was built up from a mosaic of painstakingly put together information."

The Times said the retired officer, Glenn Carle, interrogated a senior al-Qaida official before he left the agency four years ago.

Obama said he had taken a "calculated risk" in launching the bin Laden raid, a triumph that could easily have ended in disaster. He said the SEAL team was exceptionally well prepared, "but there's no doubt that that was as long a 40 minutes as I care to experience during my presidency."

Obama begins a six-day trip to Europe on Monday, visiting Ireland, Britain, France and Poland.

In Britain, h e will hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and address the parliament to hail the two countries' special relationship and stress the importance of transatlantic ties.

Obama and his wife Michelle will stay at Buckingham Palace as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II.