LAKEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Did Pakistani leaders help harbor Osama bin Laden? Sarah Palin wants to know.

Speaking at a fundraiser the day after bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, the former Republican vice presidential nominee praised the Navy SEALs who killed the man believed to have been the architect of 9/11. But she said Monday’s military operation raises “many serious questions” about Pakistan.

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“He was killed in an affluent city outside Islamabad. It wasn’t in a dark cave in some remote mountains,” Palin said.

Palin said “many retired Pakistani military officers live in the area” near where bin Laden was living in “relative luxury.”

She went on, “How was the most wanted man in the world able to live in relative comfort out in the open?”

Palin concluded, “Perhaps some of the Pakistani leaders were helping him.”

Pakistan officials deny knowing bin Laden’s whereabouts. A senior Pakistan intelligence official, who asked not to be named to discuss the matter, said officials didn’t know bin Laden was there.

Palin’s 2008 running mate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned against pushing Pakistan away. He said that Pakistan’s nuclear arms would be a direct threat to U.S. national security, if those weapons fell into the wrong hands.

About 1,000 people gathered to hear Palin’s previously scheduled tribute to the armed forces applauded several times through Palin’s remarks. Many nodded along when she talked about Pakistan and cheered when she said, “We should demand answers to our questions.”

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Palin did acknowledge President Barack Obama, though not by name. She also named former President George W. Bush.

“Yesterday was a testament to the military’s dedication in relentlessly hunting down the enemy during many years of war,” Palin said. “And we thank our president. We thank president Bush.”

Also at the fundraiser was a former intelligence official who once made comments denigrating Islam.

Retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin once made statements portraying the fight against terrorism as a Christian fight against Satan and suggesting that Muslims worship idols. He retired in 2007.

Boykin made no mention of religion in Monday’s speech but thanked veterans for their service. He also lauded the killing of bin Laden.

“Osama bin Laden? Not with us anymore,” Boykin said to cheers from the crowd.

The program raised money for a charity for families of fallen service members, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).

– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer

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