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Sep 13, 2012 at 08:48am IST

US choppers on Osama bin Laden mission crossed Indian airspace?

Washington: The flight path taken by two American MH-47 Chinook helicopters to Abbottabad in Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden in May, 2011 has triggered a controversy with questions being raised as to whether they flew over the Indian air space.

A just-published book, containing a first-hand account of the raid on the al Qaeda leader's hideout in the Pakistan garrison town near Islamabad, contains a map showing the flight path of the two helicopters after they took off from Jalalabad in Afghanistan in the dead of the night on May one.

The map shows the helicopters crossing Pakistan's eastern border with India before looping around and approaching Abbottabad from the South East. The book 'No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL' is written by one of the US Navy SEALS Matt Bissonnette, who participated in the operation, using pseudonym Mark Owen.

US choppers on Osama mission crossed Indian airspace?

The map shows the helicopters crossing Pakistan's eastern border with India before looping around and approaching Abbottabad.

Questions about whether the helicopters flew over the Indian air space have been raised by a popular US website Redstate, described as a leading conservative news blog. This has set off a debate in the cyber world.

The blog states that "this apparent use of Indian air space" raises questions including whether the Indian government had advance knowledge about the Abbottabad mission and whether the US had sought and was granted permission to use Indian air space.

Indian Air Force sources in New Delhi on Wednesday dismissed this hypothesis and said the US helicopters had not crossed into Indian air space at all.

B Raman, a noted security expert who retired as a senior officer of India's external intelligence agency RAW, has doubted whether the helicopters would have been flown into Pakistan via India.

He has written that in planning operations of this nature involving air and missile action, the US is always worried that if the Pakistanis detect the action, they may misinterpret that the action had been originated by India and this could lead to a war between the two nuclear powers.

The book gives fascinating details of the mission undertaken by 22 SEALS, an EOD tech and a CIA interpreter, who flew in two Black Hawk helicopters into Abbottabad, where Pakistan's military academy is located, on the night of May 2, 2011 from a US base in Jalalabad. They killed Osama and four others hiding in a house.