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Entries in Osama bin Laden (138)

Friday
May102013

Manhunt: Meet the CIA ‘Sisterhood’ That Tracked Bin Laden

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Years before Osama bin Laden became a household name, a group of female analysts at the CIA was so determined to find and stop the terror leader that one said she was once counseled by an Agency superior that she was spending “too much time” on the bin Laden hunt.

“They said we were obsessed crusaders, overly emotional, using all those women stereotypes,” said former CIA analyst Cindy Storer in the new HBO documentary Manhunt, which debuted earlier this month. “Yes, we were borderline obsessed, but I thought it was for a good reason… How can you do something like this without passion? You can’t.”

Then the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 happened – suddenly everyone was passionate about finding bin Laden.

Based on the book by national security journalist Peter Bergen, Manhunt features interviews with more than a dozen key players in the decade-plus-long race to catch the world’s most wanted man, both before and after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Much of the beginning story focuses on what the documentary calls “The Sisterhood,” a group of female CIA analysts that often worked alongside Alec Station, a CIA operations unit organized in the mid-1990s dedicated to tracking Osama bin Laden and his connection to an emerging terrorist organization called al Qaeda.

“At the time, the people who had all the deep expertise in al Qaeda were women,” CIA analyst Susan Hasler says.

Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst who later worked with the women, told ABC News that it was unintentional that so many women happened to be involved. Before Sept. 11, she said, counter-terrorism was “not a typical topic to be working on.”

“For some reason, that group of women started on it early,” she said.

One of the original analysts, Gina Bennett, wrote the first report on Osama bin Laden for the U.S. government, Bakos said. Storer wrote the first warning about al Qaeda for the President, according to the documentary — both documents circulating well before Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In the film, the women discuss their work prior to and then their reaction to Sept. 11 – the guilt for not having been able to prevent it and the frustration with other U.S. government officials saying the Agency had failed to sound the alarm, despite their repeated warnings.

The documentary then follows different Agency and some military players through the years before bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, including the capture of high-level al Qaeda commanders, the use of enhanced interrogation and the key to it all: the identification of bin Laden’s courier.

As he has done before several times, the former head of the CIA counter-terrorism center, Jose Rodriquez, staunchly defends the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

“You can’t argue with success,” he says in the film.

The documentary also discusses the December 2009 suicide bombing in Khost, Afghanistan that claimed the lives of seven CIA officers, including an original member of the Alec Station, Jennifer Matthews. In that case, the CIA believed they were meeting with an al Qaeda informant who turned out to be a double agent, sent to attack America’s intelligence agency. The Agency and base security reportedly did not search the man for potential weapons before allowing him past multiple check points.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who left the post ten months before the attack, said that without Khost, “You don’t get Abbottabad.”

“There was some criticism of the Agency, frankly I understand that. But you don’t get Abbottabad without Khost,” Hayden says in the documentary. “An agency that’s not willing to take the risks that were evident at Khost, and which unfortunately ended tragically. That agency, if it’s not willing to do what it had to do to build that trail all the way to Abbottabad.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar082013

Osama Bin Laden's Son-in-Law Pleads Not Guilty

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and a longtime member of al Qaeda's inner circle, pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiring to kill Americans when he appeared Friday in a New York federal court house less than a mile from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center towers.

Ghaith stood before a federal judge in a blue smock with his hands cuffed behind his back.  Prosecutors said much of their case is made up of a 22-page statement that Ghaith provided upon his arrest, along with previously recorded video and audio statements.

On Thursday, American officials said Ghaith had already provided interrogators with "key intelligence" on al Qaeda's status, personnel and finances.

"It is huge," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Thursday.  "This is a man who is in the inner circle of bin Laden's al Qaeda operations and now we have him alive and he's talking."

Lawmakers and U.S. officials on Thursday revealed Ghaith's capture and secret transfer to New York.  After living in Iran, Ghaith was taken captured in Turkey in January and later turned over to Jordanian authorities.  From there, U.S. officials took over the case on Feb. 28 and spirited Ghaith to New York City on March 1.

The FBI's George Venizelos referred to Ghaith as holding a "key position in al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime."

"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice," Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.  "…[T]his arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

Dr. Thomas Lynch at the National Defense University told ABC News on Thursday that beyond providing a potential intelligence windfall, Ghaith's capture meant one of the more dangerous members of core al Qaeda is now out of play.

"Abu Ghaith is one of ten guys left from al Qaeda core that have the financial ties and reputation who might have been able to get the old band back together to execute spectacular international terror attacks," he said.

Ghaith will remain in federal custody until his next court hearing in early April.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar082013

Osama Bin Laden's Son-in-Law to Appear in NYC Court

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Under heavy security, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law will appear Friday morning in a New York federal courtroom to answer to charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens as a top member of al Qaeda's inner circle.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who U.S. officials said has already given up "key intelligence" on al Qaeda since his capture in Turkey, is expected to stand before a federal judge less than a mile from the World Trade Center memorial pools, one of the sites of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans.  Shortly after that attack, Abu Ghaith appeared in two videos online -- one alongside bin Laden -- proclaiming, "We carried out what God ordered us to do," and calling on others to join a holy war against America.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE THE INDICTMENT AGAINST SULAIMAN ABU GHAITH ]

Lawmakers and U.S. officials on Thursday revealed Ghaith's capture and secret transfer to New York.  After spending years in Iran, Abu Ghaith was captured in Turkey in January and later turned over to Jordianian authorities.  From there, U.S. officials took over the case and spirited Abu Ghaith to New York City sometime last week.

But even before he arrived on American soil, U.S. officials told ABC News he was "cooperating" with interrogators and providing key information on al Qaeda's status, personnel and finances.

"It is huge," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Thursday.  "This is a man who is in the inner circle of bin Laden's al Qaeda operations and now we have him alive and he's talking."

The Department of Justice referred to Abu Ghaith as holding a "key position in al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime."

"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice," Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.  "…[T]his arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

Dr. Thomas Lynch at the National Defense University told ABC News on Thursday that beyond providing a potential intelligence windfall, Abu Ghaith's capture meant one of the more dangerous members of core al Qaeda is now out of play.

"Abu Ghaith is one of ten guys left from al Qaeda core that have the financial ties and reputation who might have been able to get the old band back together to execute spectacular international terror attacks," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar072013

Homeland Chair: Osama bin Laden's Son-in-Law 'Cooperating'

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, has been "cooperating" and has already revealed "key intelligence" about the current status, personnel and finances of al Qaeda even before he was secretly spirited to New York City, U.S. officials told ABC News Thursday.

"It is huge," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "This is a man who is in the inner circle of bin Laden's al Qaeda operations and now we have him alive and he's talking."

Abu Ghaith is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate in New York City on Friday and faces the charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.

[See the Indictment HERE.]

"No amount of distance or time will weaken our resolve to bring America's enemies to justice," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "…[T]his arrest sends an unmistakable message: There is no corner of the world where you can escape from justice because we will do everything in our power to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

Lawmakers and other U.S. officials revealed Thursday that Ghaith had been moved to New York sometime last week after being captured in Turkey in January and then transferred to Jordanian custody. Although he had spent years in Iran, officials said he was part of an al Qaeda senior management council that continued to be in contact with al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and played a role in the transfer of personnel and money through Iran.

Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Ghaith appeared in a pair of videos online -- one alongside Osama bin Laden -- and said, "We carried out what God ordered us to do," and called others to join a holy war against America.

The Department of Justice referred to Ghaith as holding a "key position in al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime."

Chairman of the House Homeland Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Rep. Peter King, who confirmed Abu Ghaith's capture earlier Thursday, released a statement commending President Obama, the CIA, FBI and Jordanian officials.

"I trust [Abu Ghaith] received a vigorous interrogation, and will face swift and certain justice," said King, R- N.Y. "The propaganda statements in which Abu Ghaith and his late father-in-law, Osama bin Laden, praised the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are alone enough to merit the most serious punishment."

Dr. Thomas Lynch at the National Defense University said of Ghaith, "This is not a small fish."

"The catchy title is that he was bin Laden's son-in-law... What he was though was an important spokesman for core al Qaeda," Lynch said. Lynch said Abu Gaith founded and ran a very significant Wahabi mosque in Kuwait for a decade until the Kuwaitis, under U.S. pressure, revoked his citizenship.

"His apprehension sends a message in two directions," Lynch said. "First even these guys who have hid out successfully for a while are not safe from identification and capture. The notion of impunity is further tarnished. Second, Abu Gaith is one of ten guys left from al Qaeda core that have the financial ties and reputation who might have been able to get the old band back together to execute spectacular international terror attacks."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb052013

Pakistani Town that Hosted Osama Bin Laden Plans Amusement Park

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Now that Abbottabad, Pakistan is lacking its most famous, though perhaps least known attraction -- a compound that hid terror mastermind Osama bin Laden -- the city is hoping to boost tourism with an amusement park.

The BBC reports city planners are plotting a $30 million facility that would include rock climbing, mini-golf, water sports and paragliding.

Officials are quick to point out that the park won't be built on the spot where bin Laden's compound once stood; in order to prevent terror tourism, his hideout was destroyed after the May 2011 Navy SEAL raid that left the al Qaeda leader dead.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug292012

SEAL Book Describes Grisly Death of Osama Bin Laden

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Leaked copies of a former Navy SEAL's first-person account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden describe the gruesome scene when the terror leader died and offer details that appear to contradict some of the "official" account, according to two news organizations that obtained copies of the book.

"Blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull," a passage in the book says, according to The Huffington Post, which first obtained a copy of No Easy Day written by a former SEAL Team Six member under the pseudonym Mark Owen.

In the book, the author said he was right behind the "point man" who first shot bin Laden after the al Qaeda leader poked his head out of a doorway on one of the upper floors of the complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan. At the time, it wasn't immediately clear if those shots had connected.

"We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots. BOP. BOP," Owen writes of the May 2011 raid, according to the Huffington Post. "I couldn't tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the dark room."

It wasn't until several SEAL Team Six members entered the room that Owen learned some of the first shots hit their mark and that Osama bin Laden was the man bleeding and twitching on the ground with an apparent shot to the head. Still, Owen and another SEAL pointed their laser sights at his chest and "fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless."

The reported account appears to differ from earlier versions of the raid given by U.S. officials, including that of White House spokesperson Jay Carney, that the SEALs had entered the room before bin Laden was shot, that one of bin Laden's wives charged the SEALs and that bin Laden had "resisted" before he was killed, even if he was unarmed.

No Easy Day does say that two women were in the room when bin Laden died, but they were wailing over his body when the SEALs entered, the Huffington Post reported.

Owen also reportedly writes that the SEALs were told in a pre-raid briefing the mission was not an assassination and that bin Laden should be detained should he pose no threat.

The former SEAL Team Six member who wrote the book said through Dutton Tuesday that he's "proud" to have written his account for the public.

"My hope is that it gives my fellow Americans a glimpse into how much of an honor it is to serve our country," Owen said. "It is written with respect for my fellow service members while adhering to my strict desire not to disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way."

Dutton said Owen plans to donate a majority of the proceeds from his book to charities that help the families of fallen Navy SEALs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul312012

Sharp Decline in Terror Attacks After Bin Laden Death

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The number of worldwide terror attacks fell to 10,283 last year, down from 11,641 in 2010 and the lowest since 2005, the State Department reported Tuesday.

What’s made the difference? The State Department cites the May 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda members killed last year including Atiyah Abd al-Rahman and Anwar al-Awlaki, who was the head of Yemen’s Al Qaeda affiliate and had ties to the underwear bomber plot in 2010.

“The loss of bin Laden and these other key operatives puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse,” the report stated.

But Ambassador Dan Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counter-terrorism, warned that for all the good news about the core of al Qaeda being weakened, affiliates of the group, particularly in Yemen and in Africa, continue to pose a real risk.

Nigeria was one of the few countries which actually saw an increase in terror attacks last year because of Boko Haram, and Kenya and Somalia continue to experience attacks by a weakened Al Shabab. Benjamin also noted that the Arab spring and other countries in transition could leave important allies like Egypt and Iraq vulnerable to terror groups.

“Inspiring as the moment may be, we are not blind to the attendant perils. Terrorists could still cause significant disruptions for states undergoing very challenging democratic transitions. Affiliates of the group, and violent extremist ideology and rhetoric continue to spread in some parts of the world,” said Benjamin.

Reports of al Qaeda operatives taking advantage of the instability in Syria is also a potential worrying situation, says Benjamin.  The U.S. has warned Syria’s opposition groups against allowing foreign fighters to join the resistance, and Benjamin says opposition groups have assured U.S. officials that they are being vigilant in keeping extremists out.  But he placed the blame for the conflict  squarely on Syria’s President Bashar al Assad.

“So long as Assad refuses to go and Syria’s transition is blocked, the danger grows of more foreign fighters, including extremists of the al Qaeda type, infiltrating Syria,” he said.

Though the report focuses primarily on the threat al Qaeda and its affiliates pose to the United States, the activities of Iran over the last year are also increasingly of concern, specifically Iran’s support for Hezbollah and the rogue nation’s involvement in the 2011 plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

Osama Bin Laden Doctor in Danger Inside, Outside Prison

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The recently-jailed Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden is not only in danger inside prison, according to officials there, but now faces threats from the Taliban and another terrorist organization should they find him outside.

Dr. Shakil Afridi was sentenced last week to more than 30 years in prison -- a conviction that at the time was reportedly linked to his role in running a vaccination program for the CIA near bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The ploy was an attempt to collect DNA from bin Laden's relatives and verify the al Qaeda leader was indeed in the compound. Bin Laden was killed in a Navy SEAL raid on the compound May 2, 2011.

Days after Afridi's sentencing, however, the Pakistani court released charging documents that claimed he had not been convicted for helping the CIA, but for aiding a Pakistani terrorist organization called Lashkar-e-Islam. Afridi had allegedly given the group two million rupees, or $21,000, and provided medical care for militants.

But Thursday Lashkar-e-Islam not only denied any links to "such a shameless man," but said that they would kill Afridi if given the chance. The money, a spokesperson told Agence France Presse, was a fine levied by the group against Afridi.

The Pakistani Taliban issued its own gruesome threat against Afridi, telling CNN Thursday they would "cut him into pieces when we find him" for helping the U.S. kill bin Laden, their "hero."

Both threats came after a Pakistani intelligence agency reportedly issued a warning detailing the danger to Afridi coming from inside the Peshawar prison where "many" of the 3,000 inmates held negative sentiments towards him. Afridi was given personal armed guards, according to local media.

The doctor's brother, Jamil, told reporters earlier this week that Afridi is innocent and the trial was a "sham."

"This was a one-sided decision," said Jamil. "All allegations against him are false. He didn't do anything against the national interest."

Afridi's role in the CIA operation, first reported by The New York Times in July 2011, was publicly confirmed by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in January when he told CBS News' 60 Minutes he was "very concerned" for Afridi's well-being in Pakistan.

"This was an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation," Panetta, who was head of the CIA at the time of the operation, said then. "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."

After Afridi's conviction, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. would continue to pressure Pakistan to release Afridi, saying, "his treatment is unjust and unwarranted."

Last week the U.S. Senate moved to cut Pakistani aid by $33 million -- $1 million for every year of Afridi's sentence -- in response to his conviction.

"We call upon the Pakistani government to pardon and release Dr. Afridi immediately. At a time when the United States and Pakistan need more than ever to work constructively together, Dr. Afridi's continuing imprisonment and treatment as a criminal will only do further harm to U.S.-Pakistani relations, including diminishing Congress's willingness to provide financial assistance to Pakistan," Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., said then.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May302012

Pakistani Doc Who Helped Find Bin Laden Had Ties to Terrorist Group

AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- The Pakistani surgeon who helped do reconnaissance of Osama bin Laden's compound was not sentenced to 33 years behind bars for helping the CIA, as initially reported, new court documents show. 

Instead, Dr. Shakil Afridi was punished for backing a banned terrorist group in Pakistan.

According to the documents, Afridi, 48, received his prison sentence last week for being a supporter of Lashkar-e-Islam.  He allegedly provided the group with money and medical treatment, and had several longer-than-usual meetings with the group’s top commanders.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

Senate Protests Bin Laden Informant’s Conviction; Threatens to Cut Pakistan Aid

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON ) -- Two Senate committees Thursday took the first legislative steps to cut aid to Pakistan after that country’s conviction of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who aided American intelligence in its mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

The Pakistani doctor was convicted of high treason in his home country and sentenced to 33 years in prison plus a fine, Pakistani officials said Wednesday.

Afridi ran a vaccination program on behalf of the CIA near the al Qaeda leader’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in an attempt to collect DNA from bin Laden’s relatives and verify that America’s most-wanted terrorist was indeed in the compound.

On May 2, 2011, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs raided the compound and killed bin Laden.

The Senate Appropriations Committee cut Pakistan’s assistance by the symbolic amount of $33 million -- $1 million for each year of Afridi’s sentence.

“It is ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at best, but it is outrageous in itself. And if this is cooperation, I would hate like heck to see opposition,” said the committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “It goes beyond schizophrenic to have them suggest that, somehow, it was wrongdoing going after Osama bin Laden when they have publicly stated that they were opposed to Osama bin Laden -- and you can’t have it both ways. And basically, this amendment says that we take this seriously.”

The committee approved the amendment, offered by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., by a unanimous 30-0 vote. The funds would continue to be withheld until Afridi gets released from prison and cleared of all charges relating to his assistance in locating bin Laden.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she is “baffled” how Afridi can be labeled as a traitor.

“I don’t know which side of this war Pakistan is on,” Feinstein said. “If this is how Pakistan is going to treat a friend and hero like Dr. Afridi, I don’t know about these funds.”

The amendment, within the FY13 “State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations” bill, will now be sent to the full Senate for full consideration before final passage.

In addition, the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed its anger over the conviction during the markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 Thursday. Within the defense budget there is a restriction of military assistance to Pakistan unless the supply routes are opened.

“To somehow allege that under any country’s law that this doctor violated any law is, of course, just beyond ludicrous; it’s outrageous,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters. “This is a human being.”

The full Senate is expected to consider this bill in June for final passage.

McCain said beyond just Senate action, senators would like “to have the administration weigh in on this,” as there is a general sense of “frustration” on Capitol Hill over the conviction.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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