Entries in Navy SEALS (16)


Bin Laden Raid: Will CIA's Secret Doctor Face Treason Trial?

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Pakistan is re-examining the fate of the Pakistani doctor who allegedly helped the CIA gather information on the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination program after a top U.S. official publicly confirmed his secret spy operation.

Officials with the commission investigating the May 2 Navy SEAL raid that took the life of America's most wanted terrorist in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told Pakistan's The News they've ordered Dr. Shakeel Afridi to face trial for treason and said he will not be turned over to the U.S. Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Gilani, also said Sunday Afridi would be tried.

Another senior Pakistani official, however, said that the commission does not give the final say on Afridi's fate and that the Pakistani government has yet to decide whether to try him.

Pakistani officials have called for a treason trial previously, but the commission's new order comes just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta publicly confirmed Afridi's key role in the Bin Laden mission.

In a Friday preview of an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, Panetta said he was "very concerned" for Afridi.

"This was an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation," said Panetta who was head of the CIA at the time of the operation. "He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan, he was not doing anything that would in any way undermine Pakistan... Pakistan and the United States have a common cause against terrorism."

"For them to take this kind of action against someone who was helping to go after terrorism I just think is a real mistake on their part," he added.

The New York Times first reported Afridi's alleged role in the CIA's intelligence gathering gambit in July. Afridi allegedly set up a fake polio vaccination program, going door-to-door in Abbottabad in hopes of collecting DNA samples from bin Laden family members. After he was arrested outside his home just weeks after the deadly raid, local media reported Afridi admitted to his role, but said he was unable to get access to bin Laden's compound or his children.

In his 60 Minutes interview, Panetta also said he "personally felt" that the Pakistani government must have known something about the Abbottabad compound, perhaps that a high value target could be there.

"I don't have any hard evidence, so I can't say it for a fact. There's nothing that proves the case. But as I said, my personal view is that somebody somewhere probably had that knowledge," he said.

By all official accounts, no Pakistani officials told the U.S. government bin Laden could be in the compound, but Panetta was the only one to recommend with certainty that the raid should take place, according to a new account of high-level decision making provided by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

"[Obama] said, 'I have to make this decision -- what is your opinion?' He started with the National Security advisor, the Secretary of State and he ended with me," Biden said at a recent gathering of Democrat leaders in Maryland. "Every single person in that roomed hedged their bet, except Leon Panetta. He said, 'Go.'"

For his part, Biden said he advised the president not to launch the operation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Looking at Bigger Bomb, Navy SEALs Mothership for Persian Gulf

Ebrahim Noroozi/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two high profile weapons systems are getting critical attention as the United States trades verbal barbs with Iran over Tehran's nuclear weapons program and its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.

The Navy SEALs are scheduled to receive a "special operations mothership" in the Persian Gulf that will search for mines and adversaries. Set to be retired just weeks ago, the 40-year-old U.S.S. Ponce is now on a fast-track rebuild to act as a floating U.S. base in the Persian Gulf.

In the long term, it’s going to be a mothership for special operations forces that will allow the U.S. to covertly deploy our special operations warriors to really difficult parts of the world where you don't want people on shore like Yemen and Somalia, military analyst Steve Ganyard told ABC News.

Ganyard said that in the short term, the United States is trying to "create a platform where we can put mine-hunting helicopters and keep them permanently based in the Strait of Hormuz so that if the Iranians do something stupid like try to put sea mines in and try to close off the Strait of Hormuz—thereby closing off 20 percent of the world's global oil supplies—we can quickly get in there and reopen the straits."

The Ponce is being enhanced with cranes to pull mines and the ability to dock 12 small boats. The renovated ship will have space for four helicopters, four video teleconference rooms, and an on board operations center.

Meanwhile, the defense department is being forced to rework a 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordinance penetrator, or, in military terms, the MOP. The MOP is the military's largest conventional bomb, a super "bunker-buster" capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground.

The MOP is a massive bomb—20 feet long and encased in 3.5-inch thick high-performance steel. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding.

But initial tests indicated that the bunker-buster may not be able to destroy some of Iran's facilities, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and so the Pentagon submitted a request to Congress this month for funding to work on the bomb's capabilities.

"We were building a bomb to one level of depth deep inside a granite mountain and now we need to go even deeper. We have to have that conventional capability to deter them from doing anything that might precipitate a war," Ganyard said.

The Defense Department has already spent about $330 million to develop about 20 of the bunker-buster bombs, and the Pentagon is requesting about $82 million more to make the bomb more effective, according to government officials briefed on the plan, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Somalia SEAL Rescue: American's Kidnapping Intentionally Kept Quiet

Poul Hagen Thisted (L) and Jessica Buchanan (R). Danish Refugee Council(NEW YORK) -- A friend of an aid worker rescued by Navy SEALs in Somalia said that it was important to keep the woman's three-month captivity quiet so her captors would not ask for more money and put her at further risk.

Jessica Buchanan, 32, and 60-year-old Dutch colleague Poul Hagen Thisted were rescued early Wednesday by SEAL Team 6 -- the same group involved in the mission to kill Osama bin Laden last spring -- in a daring mission at a remote encampment deep in northern Somalia.

Christina Scolforo, a close friend of Buchanan, says that her abduction was intentionally kept from the media.

"We didn't want them to get media hype that would cause them to think that she was worth more, and they would want more of a ransom, and then it would prolong the time that she was captive, so a lot of it was hush," Scolforo said.

Bachanan's immediate family is now meeting with her at a U.S. military base in Sicily, Italy, members of the woman's extended family told ABC News.

"She says she feels safe for the first time in 93 days. The men that risked their lives...I just can't say enough so I really, really appreciate it," Dave Buchanan, Jessica's uncle said.

Buchanan and Thisted, who worked with the Danish Refugee Council's Danish Demining Group, were abducted on Oct. 25, 2011 by a group of Somali bandits and held for ransom.

At approximately 1:40 a.m. Wednesday local time -- 5:40 p.m. Tuesday Eastern Time -- SEAL Team 6 was aboard a specially equipped C-130 moving rapidly towards where Buchanan and Thisted were being held.  One by one, the SEALs hurled themselves out of the plane, parachuting silently to within a few miles of the hideout, then hiking to the enemy encampment in pitch darkness, with armed pirates everywhere.

Within minutes of arriving at the target area, gunfire erupted from the kidnappers, but the SEALs quickly killed all nine of the heavily armed men.  By approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, the hostages -- now in U.S. hands -- were moved on board Black Hawk helicopters and headed for Djibouti.

In a statement Wednesday, Buchanan's family said they were, "very grateful that Jessica has been rescued.  This has been just an unbelievable answer to prayers and we are so grateful for the work of the president, the Navy SEALs and the State Department."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Navy SEALs Free American and Danish Hostages Held in Somalia

Danish Refugee Council(WASHINGTON) -- Two relief workers held hostage by kidnappers in northern Somalia since October were rescued Tuesday by Navy SEALs in a nightime raid.

One of the former captives was 32-year-old American Jessica Buchanan, who, with 60-year-old Poul Hagen Thisted from Denmark, worked for Danish Refugee Council.

The identities of their kidnappers is not yet known.  The abductors apparently had no ties to any organized Somali terrorist group.

A U.S. official told ABC News the SEALs parachuted from a plane into the area near the compound where the aid workers were being held.  A gunfight then ensued, and the SEALs were able to free both Buchanan and Thisted unharmed.  The hostages were then taken by helicopter to the U.S. military's Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

All of the nine captors were killed, according to the U.S. military, and none of the SEALs were said to have been hurt during the rescue operation.

President Obama may have tipped off the successful outcome of the mission before he gave his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

As he entered the House chambers, Obama pointed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and said, "Leon.  Good job tonight.  Good job tonight."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Investigation Finds No Fault in Deadly Chinook Crash in Afghanistan

In this photograph taken on July 29, 2011 a US military Chinook helicopter lands at Forward Operating Base in Arghandab district southern Afghanistan. ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The investigation into the deadly helicopter crash in August that killed 30 Americans and eight Afghans has found that no one was at fault for the deadliest incident for U.S. troops in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

On Aug. 6, a Chinook CH-47D helicopter was brought down by enemy fire as it was carrying a team of elite Navy SEALs to help support a nighttime mission to capture a Taliban leader in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province. Seventeen Navy SEALs and five SEAL Support forces were killed in the crash, along with three Air Force special operators, five Army helicopter crew personnel and eight Afghan soldiers.

Shortly after the crash, Gen. John Allen, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, ordered an investigation into the circumstances.

An executive summary of the investigation made public by U.S. Central Command Wednesday evening said the Chinook helicopter carrying special operations forces was brought down by a rocket propelled grenade.

According to the report’s author, Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Colt, "After conducting my investigation, I have determined that this mission, and the tactics and resources employed in its execution, were consistent with previous U.S. special operations missions and the strike forces selected to execute the mission were appropriate. I also determined that the CH-47D was shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fired by a Taliban fighter as the helicopter neared its landing zone.”

Colt’s investigation also determined that the decision to load the transport helicopter with so many troops was “tactically sound.” In the wake of the crash there had been some question as to whether putting the elite special operations forces aboard the helicopter was a risky move.

"The decision to load the IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) onto one CH-47D in order to mitigate risk by minimizing aircraft exposure to ground fire and to mass the assault force was tactically sound,” said the report.

It added, “The shoot down was not the result of a baited ambush, but rather the result of the enemy being at a heightened state of alert due to 3 1/2 hours of ongoing coalition air operations concentrated over the northwestern portion of the Tangi Valley.”

The five-page executive summary sheds new details into the timeline of events that resulted in the deadly helicopter crash. For example, the investigation found that two or three RPG rounds were fired by Taliban insurgents at the helicopter. The first missed, but a second round struck the helicopter’s tail rotor, bringing the aircraft down within seconds.

The investigation of the crash also helps explain why there were so many personnel sent as part of the mission beyond the 17 SEALs who were serving as the immediate response force. The additional personnel were added to help provide support so the team could leave the area of fighting by land during daylight hours in preparation for a nighttime helicopter pickup the following night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Insurgents behind Afghan Helicopter Attack Reportedly Killed in Airstrike

Staff Sgt. William Tremblay/ISAF/NATO (file photo)(KABUL, Afghanistan ) -- The commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan announced Wednesday that the Taliban insurgents responsible for the helicopter attack that left 30 American servicemembers dead this past weekend have been killed.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters in a videoconference from Kabul, Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen said the insurgents were tracked down and killed early Monday morning.

"At approximately midnight on Aug. 8, coalition forces killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack against the helicopter -- which we assess was an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] round," Allen told reporters.

He added, "We tracked them, as we would in the aftermath of any operation -- and we dealt with them with a kinetic strike -- and in the aftermath of that we have achieved certainty that they, in fact, were killed in that strike."

The general did not say precisely how the insurgents were positively ID'd as the ones responsible for the attack, how they were located, or how many of them were killed in the F-16 airstrike.

On Tuesday, the remains of the fallen soldiers -- 22 of whom were Navy SEALs -- arrived at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base.  President Obama was on hand to pay his respects to the 30 servicemembers, who have not yet been identified.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Magazine: Bin Laden 'Confronted' SEALs in 'Fierce Battle'

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Contradicting the official U.S. government report on the operation, a new edition of Al Qaeda's official magazine claims that Osama bin Laden fought back in a "vicious battle" with the U.S. Navy SEALs before his death in May.

"He confronted them, his weapons against theirs with his, and his strength against theirs, and he accepted the challenge of those who came out with their fancy equipment, machinery, weapons, aircrafts and troops, all haughty and pompous," the magazine, Inspire, said in a eulogy for the al Qaeda leader. "His determination did not weaken in front of them, nor was he sapped of strength. Rather, he stood and confronted them face to face like a firm mountain, and continued to engage them in a fierce battle...after which he excused himself and fulfilled the trust, receiving bullets of treachery and infidelity."

The account, which is attributed to the al Qaeda organization, appears to contradict the White House version of events in which bin Laden did "resist" the SEALs, but was unarmed when he was killed.

The sixth issue of the English-language magazine features bin Laden on its cover with the words "Sadness, Contentment & Aspiration," is the first to discuss bin Laden's death. After noting the succession of al Qaeda leadership to Ayman al-Zawahiri and giving a "special thanks" to the Pakistani Taliban for a revenge attack in Pakistan for bin Laden's death, the magazine goes on to encourage individual acts of jihad against the West.

Under the subject "open source jihad," the magazine includes detailed, illustrated instructions on how to fire an AK-47 and create Acetone Peroxide explosives -- the same explosives used in the deadly 2005 London transit bombing and the same investigators said New York man Najibullah Zazi planned to use in a foiled U.S. attack.

This issue of Inspire, thought to be the brainchild of a young American from North Carolina named Samir Khan of the Yemen branch of al Qaeda (AQAP), appears to be the most interactive yet, featuring a section in which the magazine answers emailed questions and a solicitation for readers to send messages to Anwar al-Awlaki, one of al Qaeda's top commanders.

Al-Awlaki, a high profile al Qaeda leader, is believed to have inspired multiple terror plots, including several planned that targeted the U.S., including the Fort Hood massacre and the attempted underwear bombing of Northwest flight 253.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Pakistan President: 'Possibility' Officials Knew About Bin Laden

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, admitted to ABC News that rogue lower-level members of Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence Agencies and military may have helped Osama bin Laden hide in plain sight near the capital, Islamabad.

Musharraf also said he agreed with Pakistan's refusal to allow the U.S. back into bin Laden's compound.

In the interview an ABC News Chief Law and Justice Correspondent Chris Cuomo, Musharraf called Osama bin Laden's six-year residence in the military town of Abbottabad, Pakistan, a "big blunder" on the part of Pakistani intelligence.  But he also warned the United States that if it continues to alienate Pakistan as they did in the bin Laden raid, the U.S. will be the "loser."

Musharraf said the Navy SEALs' raid could have also gone far differently than it did, with a seemingly uninterrupted entrance and exit through Pakistani airspace by the U.S. assault team.  According to reports this week, President Obama increased the size of the assault team sent to bin Laden's compound, concerned about a possible battle between U.S. and Pakistani forces.  Musharraf said the confrontation could have happened.

"Certainly it was a violation of our sovereignty, and I don't know if there were armed troops around, and if they saw some helicopters firing in a house without knowing who they are dealing with, there was a possibility of a clash like that, and firing from the Pakistani troops on ground could have taken place," he said.

In the days following the daring nighttime raid on bin Laden's walled compound, questions arose within the U.S. government about Pakistan's role in harboring the terror mastermind, including how much of an ally Pakistan really was in the fight against al Qaeda.  According to Musharraf, the feelings of mistrust are mutual.

"What kind of friend is that, that you haven't taken us into confidence?" he said.  "You can't clap with one hand.  If you don't trust Pakistan, how can Pakistan trust you?"

Musharraf called the belief that Pakistan sides with al Qaeda simply "sad."

Musharraf said instead that there was a possibility that rogue lower-level members of Pakistan's intelligence and military may have had knowledge of bin Laden's location.  He conceded they might have known during the last year of his six-year residency, and said there ought to be an investigation.

Regardless of who knew what, according to Musharraf, was the fact that the U.S. raid was a possible violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, that there was never a deal struck during his tenure to allow the U.S. to make a unilateral attack on Pakistan's soil if bin Laden was found.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: SEALs Were Ready to Fight Pakistani Troops in Bin Laden Raid

U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon(NEW YORK) -- The White House was leaving nothing to chance if the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound turned into a fight with Pakistani security forces, according to The New York Times.

Assuming that some within the Pakistani military and police might engage in a battle with Navy SEALs had they arrived at the site in Abbottabad where bin Laden was killed, President Obama ordered additional Special Forces teams to be at the ready to get the SEALs out, especially if they captured the al Qaeda leader alive.

There were two plans, according to senior officials who spoke with the Times.  One was to quickly bury bin Laden if necessary, while the other was to take him alive to an awaiting Navy ship in the North Arabian Sea, where a team of lawyers, interrogators and translators was assembled.

A senior White House official said the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command were given instructions “to avoid any confrontation if at all possible.  But if they had to return fire to get out, they were authorized to do it.”

As a result, the president ordered two Black Hawk helicopters with troops to tail the lead choppers with the SEALs that conducted the mission.  It turned out to be a fortunate decision, since the SEALs needed another helicopter to get out of Abbottbad after one of the lead Black Hawks malfunctioned and had to be destroyed.

Had the military engaged in a firefight with hostile Pakistani forces, it would have likely caused an irreparable break in relations between Washington and Islamabad.  Those relations appear close to the breaking point anyway because the Pakistanis were not told beforehand about the mission. 

Obama’s choice not to involve or even inform the Pakistani government about the raid to get bin Laden suggests the administration believed that they weren’t either up to the job of being a partner in it, or couldn’t be trusted to keep it quiet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Did Pakistan Know All Along About Plan to Get Osama Bin Laden?

AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A British newspaper claims that a deal was struck almost 10 years ago to allow the U.S. to conduct a raid inside Pakistan for the purpose of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden.

The supposed agreement between then-Presidents George W. Bush and Pervez Musharraf, reported in The Guardian, gave American forces permission to enter Pakistan to get bin Laden and other top al Qaeda leaders.

It was also understood that the Pakistani government would raise objections against any incursion, since it technically violates its national sovereignty.

This is pretty much how the scenario has played out since a team of Navy SEALs, under orders from President Obama, entered Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 1 and killed bin Laden. 

While the Pakistanis have expressed outrage about the operations, they had privately agreed to it in principle.  The Guardian claims such were the terms of the pact that was agreed to by Bush and Musharraf shortly after bin Laden escaped capture from Tora Bora, Afghanistan in December 2001.

A Pakistani senior official familiar with the deal told The Guardian, "As far as our American friends are concerned, they have just implemented the agreement."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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