LONDON — U.S. President Barack Obama says he would order another covert military raid like that which killed Osama bin Laden if it was necessary to stop terrorist attacks.
Pakistan is furious that that United States sent Navy SEALs to raid bin Laden’s Pakistan hideaway earlier this month without informing Pakistani authorities.
Obama told the BBC in an interview broadcast Sunday that “we are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan,” but “our job is to secure the United States.”
He said he could not allow “active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action,” and would send troops again if a senior Taliban leader was found in Pakistan.
“We cannot allow someone who is 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 said,
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.
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.”
Obama said he had taken a “calculated risk” in launching the bin Laden raid, a triumph that could easily have ended in disaster.
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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, he and his wife Michelle will stay at Buckingham Palace as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II.