Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Osama bin Laden: High Priest of Terror

The Big Break

U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay
U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay

As senior White House officials explained during the initial press conference briefing, they began identifying the house with a single tip. "From the time that we first recognized bin Laden as a threat, the CIA gathered leads on individuals in bin Laden's inner circle, including his personal couriers. Detainees in the post-9-11 period flagged for us individuals who may have been providing direct support to bin Laden and his deputy, Zawahiri, after their escape from Afghanistan." He noted, "One courier in particular had our constant attention."

That courier, he said, had been elusive. "For years, we were unable to identify his true name or his location."

In 2007, the courier's numerous identities and alternate names became clear; and, two years later, the U.S. intelligence had zeroed in on a potential area where the courier and his brother might live.

The courier's name initially came during interrogation of Hassan Ghul, an Al Qaeda suspect. A report in The Los Angeles Times indicated that after two other detainees, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj Libbi, lied when asked about courier, U.S. officials became more certain that the courier was someone special.

The fact that they were covering it up suggested he was important," a U.S. official said in a report by The Los Angeles Times.

Unidentified detainees at Guantanamo Bay
Unidentified detainees at Guantanamo Bay

The courier, whose name was later revealed to be Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti (and was also known as Arshad Khan), was Osama bin Laden's most trusted right-hand man.

A WikiLeaks trove of documents commonly referred to as the Guantanamo Papers pertaining to the U.S. jail where the militants are held, revealed that he was a high-ranking Al Qaeda insider, who had connected the 20th 9-11 hijacker to Mohammed Atta, and had even shown him how to use email.

In August 2010, the courier's location was found. He was known alternately as Abu Ahmad and Arshad Khan, and his brother was Tareq Khan.

By mid-March, the senior administration official noted, Obama began meeting with the National Security Council to determine the plan of action. The New York Times reported. On April 29, after sleeping on it, Obama went with the decision to go with the helicopter strike over an aerial bombing. Despite the risks, it was important to be able to identify the body if bin Laden was killed.

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