Pakistan has returned to the United States wreckage of a US helicopter destroyed during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a Pentagon official told Reuters.
The delivery of the wreckage meets a key US demand of Pakistan in the wake the May 2 mission to kill the al Qaeda leader who was the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
“It (the wreckage) was returned over the weekend and is now back in the United States,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said, Reuters reports.
Pakistan branded the raid a violation of its sovereignty, since Islamabad was kept in the dark about the US operation in Abbottabad, only 30 miles (50 km) from Pakistan’s capital, until after it was over.
The wreckage was from one of the helicopters that brought the US Navy SEAL team into bin Laden’s compound. It lost lift because of the compound’s high walls, and was damaged in a hard landing.
The Navy SEALs blew it up to prevent sensitive technology from falling into enemy hands, but the tail section and other wreckage remained behind.
Senator John Kerry, on a trip to Islamabad on May 16, described a Pakistani pledge to return the chopper’s wreckage as one step needed to rebuild trust between the two countries.
The discovery of bin Laden, hiding in the garrison town of Abbottabad, has raised tough questions about what Pakistani officials might have known about the al Qaeda leader’s presence.
But US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said last week he had seen no evidence that senior Pakistani leaders knew the al Qaeda chief’s whereabouts before the raid and said “in fact, I’ve seen some evidence to the contrary.”