The Hunt for bin Laden: The Iraq Connection?

Full article at the Telegraph.

This is a bit byzantine, but here’s what I’m gleaning from various articles, including this fresh one:

1. 2003: Enhanced Interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad Results in the Nom De Guerre of bin Ladin’s Courier.

Enhanced interrogation techniques did not, however, produce the real name of the courier — at least not this earlier; it seems to have happened later.

This is giving the pansy liberals and McCain “We’re better than this” types the pretext to deny the usefulness of such techniques:

“They waterboarded KSM (Khaled Sheikh Mohammed) 183 times and he still didn’t give the guy up,” said one former U.S. counterterrorism official who asked not to be identified. “Come on. And you want to tell me that enhanced interrogation techniques worked?”

Yes, because he did give the guy up: he gave you the nom de guerre.

Further, I can think of a rather obvious possibility as to why he didn’t give the real name up: He never knew it. Bin Ladin told him the codename; why would KSM need to know more than that? The most important practice in any covert organization is compartmentalization of information — the famous “need to know.”

If KSM’s job only requires that he know the codename of bin Ladin’s courier, in order to make contact with and identify him — why would bin Ladin tell him his real name? Why would he tell him his family name and place of origin? None of this is necessary, and it a covert organization it would be secret.

And yes, secrets are kept from other members of any covert organization. Terrorist groups are specifically built in the “cell structure,” such that no cell knows much at all about any other cell, so if the members of one cell are captured their ability to give information about other cells is drastically limited.

In a cell structure, the superior cell — bin Ladin — would know the identity of the leader of the subordinate cell (KSM), and would be able to contact him at will.

But this is not reciprocal. The whole point is that KSM doesn’t know how to contact or where to find bin Ladin. So if KSM gets captured, bin Ladin is still safe.

And this would apply to his couriers — why would bin Ladin instruct KSM on the precise identity of a crucial cut-out who could be followed back to bin Ladin should his real identity ever be discovered?

But sure, stupid liberals: Let’s just assume KSM knew all of this but wouldn’t break on it. He broke on almost everything else — the nom de guerre of the courier, other terrorist operatives — but this one thing he wouldn’t tell.

Let’s just assume that. Because when you assume, you make a GENIUS out of ME and YOU.

It is my belief the interrogations that led to the nom de guerre occurrecd in the “black sites” of Poland and/or Romania. I am pointing that out because we have heard two stories– that the information originated in the “black sites,” and that the information originated at Guatanmo. I think now the answer is both things happened — this piece, the nom de guerre came from the “black sites” interrogations of KSM. The next piece, which I’m coming to, came from Guantanamo.

2. 2004: Enhanced Interrogation of al-Qahtani Confirms the Nom De Geure of bin Ladin’s Courier.

I’m actually sort of guessing on this part, but it seems reasonable. Here’s the new information from the Telegraph article, based on WikiLeaks:

The file for the Guantanamo detainee, Muhammad Mani al-Qahtani, who was to have been the “20th hijacker” on 9/11, contains a reference to the key US intelligence thread that led directly to bin Laden.According to the file, al-Kuwaiti [bin Ladin’s courier, and the man whose false step gave away bin Ladin] provided al-Qahtani with computer training for the mission to attack the US in the summer of 2001. Al-Qahtani was told by the lead 9/11 hijacker, Muhammad Atta, “to make reservations and buy airline tickets to Orlando for five individuals” including himself.

“Detainee [al-Qahtani] received computer training from al-Qaeda member Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti in preparation for his mission to the US,” according to the file, dated 30 October 2008.

Did al-Qahtani reveal the man’s real name, or just that he was very important in the bin Ladin command structure? And did he confirm that he was bin Ladin’s courier?

Not quite sure yet — it appears the answers are “No, he didn’t reveal the real name” (that is still later), probably because he didn’t know it, but yes, he revealed this al-Kuwaiti was absolutely crucial, and yes, he probably confirmed he was bin Ladin’s courier. (Assuming he even knew that– perhaps he didn’t. But our analysts knew that from KSM.)

And Qhatani did get the enhanced treatment:

The identity of at least one of the detainees who provided early information about the courier who led to bin Laden could be politically explosive. According to a U.S. official, that detainee was notorious Saudi al-Qaida operative and accused 9/11 conspirator Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was subjected to some of the most humiliating interrogations at Guantanamo. Among the enhanced interrogation techniques used on him were being forced to wear a woman’s bra, being led around on a leash and forced to perform dog tricks and being subjected to cold temperatures that twice required his hospitalization, according to a later U.S. military report.U.S. officials have accused Qahtani of being the so-called 20th hijacker for the 9/11 plot based on his unsuccessful attempt to enter the U.S. in August 2011 at the Orlando airport, where lead hijacker Mohammed Atta had arrived to meet him.

But in January 2009, Susan Crawford, then chief of the U.S. military commissions under President George W. Bush, rejected the proposed prosecution of Qahtani because of what had been done to him in interrogations at Guantanamo. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture,” Crawford told the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward.

Thusfar we have the nom de guerre revealed by enhanced interrogation and further confirmed by enhanced interrogation. No real name yet — that’s next.

3. 2006 (?): Enhanced Interrogation of an Al Qaeda Captured in Iraq, Ghul, Produces the Real Name of the Courier.

Finally, the real name. We get this, I think, in 2006. How? Well first of all from an al Qaeda captured in Iraq.

Iraq. Huh. Who’d’ve thought that Iraq would end up being so crucial to getting bin Ladin, who of course had nothing to do with Iraq and Iraq had nothing to do with him?

Further, this particular guy gets enhanced interrogations, it seems — apparently, he’s interrogated by the CIA in Pakistan, which I’m taking as code for “‘outside the jurisdiction of the United States so wink, wink.”

The file suggests that the courier’s identity was provided to the US by another key source, the al-Qaida facilitator Hassan Ghul, who was captured in Iraq in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA. Ghul was never sent to Guantanamo but was believed to have been taken to a prison in Pakistan.He told the Americans that al-Kuwaiti travelled with bin Laden. The file states:

“Al-Kuwaiti was seen in Tora Bora and it is possible al-Kuwaiti was one of the individuals [al-Qahtani] reported accompanying UBL [bin Laden] in Tora Bora prior to UBL’s disappearance.”

The picture that emerges from al-Qahtani’s Guantanamo file supports statements given in the last 24 hours by US officials, who named Ghul as the “linchpin” in the intelligence operation to find bin Laden.

So far, the entirety of the case is put together by a team commanded then by Bush. Before Obama was a gleam in Chris Matthews’ eye, our nation and its operatives, under Bush’s command, had used enhanced interrogation on at least two men and almost certainly a third, that third captured in Bush’s unnecessary war in Iraq, which as it turns out, was pretty damn necessary.

We now have his real name — and can begin the gruntwork/brainwork of figuring out where he likely is. We probably start with his hometown, of course — that’s likely. Criminals like to operate close to home.

Full article at Ace of Spades HQ.


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