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.