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Trump: Osama bin Laden should have been caught sooner

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US President Trump under fire for remarks

WASHINGTONUS President Donald Trump repeated on Monday that Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, killed by US Navy Seals in May 2011, should have been captured much earlier, casting blame on his predecessors and Pakistan.

"Of course we should have captured Osama bin Laden long before we did," Mr Trump tweeted, echoing remarks he gave to Fox News on Sunday that drew the ire of Pakistan, where Osama had been hiding.

"I pointed him out in my book just before the attack on the World Trade Center," he said.

"President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan billions of dollars and they never told us he was living there. Fools."

Ten years after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the US, Osama was found to be hiding in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, where he was killed in a raid by US Navy Seals approved by Mr Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

In his interview on Sunday, Mr Trump had said he cancelled assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan earlier this year because "they don't do anything for us, they don't do a damn thing for us".

Mr Trump had also told Fox News that Osama had lived "beautifully in Pakistan and what I guess in what they considered a nice mansion. I don't know, I've seen nicer".

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan hit back at Mr Trump's claim, calling on the president to name an ally that has sacrificed more against militancy.

"Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over US$123 billion was lost to economy. US 'aid' was a minuscule US$20 billion," Mr Khan tweeted.


Mr Robert O'Neill, a former Navy Seal who claims to have fired the shots that killed Osama, was terse in his reply.

"The mission to get bin Laden was bipartisan. We all wanted to get him as soon as we could," tweeted Mr O'Neill, who regularly appears on Fox News as a security expert.

Former director of national intelligence James Clapper was more direct in his criticism of Mr Trump.

"It's really a slam at the intelligence community, who was responsible for tracking down Osama bin Laden, and reflects, I think, his complete ignorance about what that took," Mr Clapper told CNN.

Former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan also hit back at Mr Trump.

"You constantly remind us how substantively shallow and dishonest you are on so many fronts, which is why we are in such dangerous times," he wrote on Twitter.

In a separate development, a US judge on Monday temporarily blocked an order by Mr Trump that barred asylum for immigrants who enter the country illegally from Mexico, the latest courtroom defeat for Mr Trump on immigration policy.

US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order against the asylum rules.

His order takes effect immediately, applies nationwide and lasts until at least Dec 19 when the judge scheduled a hearing to consider a more long-lasting injunction.

In his ruling, Judge Tigar said Congress clearly mandated that immigrants can apply for asylum regardless of how they entered the country. The judge called the latest rules an "extreme departure" from prior practice.

"Whatever the scope of the President's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," Mr Tigar wrote. - AFP, REUTERS