SEARCH

Wednesday
May042011

Courier Hid Osama Bin Laden Well

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan) -- He was a man of many names: Arshad, Ahmed, Abu Ahmed, to name a few. To his neighbors in Abbottabad, Pakistan, he was a friendly man from the country's tribal areas who worked as a money changer and built 12-foot walls to keep out the "many enemies" he'd acquired in the course of doing business.

What no one who lived near him in the sleepy, semi-rural enclave knew was that Arshad Khan was really al Qaeda operative Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti, Osama bin Laden's most trusted courier, and his identity and location became the key to killing bin Laden.

Little is known about al Kuwaiti, but interviews with neighbors, Pakistani officials and U.S. officials make clear that the Kuwaiti-born Pakistani was for several years the second-most-wanted terrorist in the world, if only because the CIA had become convinced he could led them to the al Qaeda leader.

Bin Laden, al Kuwaiti, al Kuwaiti's brother, one of bin Laden's sons and a woman were killed early Monday morning when a team of Navy SEALs conducted a covert raid at the compound where bin Laden was living.

Until eight months ago, when al Kuwaiti was spotted in Peshawar and tracked back to the compound, the CIA knew his identity, but not where he lived.

One neighbor, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, told ABC News that he knew al Kuwaiti as Arshad Khan. He was a courteous, if not forthcoming, neighbor, who could be seen driving his wife and children to town. The neighbor, who didn't own a car, said Arshad Khan often gave him rides into town.

"I would ask if I could have his mobile number," the neighbor said. "He said he didn't own a phone," and rarely answered other personal questions.

Even so, the neighbor said the man he knew as Arshad once explained that the compound's unusually high perimeter wall had been built because of the many enemies he'd acquired in the years he ran a money-changing business in Pakistan's Tribal Areas.

Al Kuwaiti was identified in 2003, U.S. officials said, as someone who would be trusted by bin Laden. He was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's protege and later the man who delivered a promotion from bin Laden to Abu Faraj al Libi, the al Qaeda operative who replaced Mohammed as the organization's number-three leader.

Al Kuwaiti was tracked to the Abbottabad compound in 2010, after which the CIA determined that a high-value target, possibly bin Laden, was living behind its walls. The main building included a terrace enclosed by a high wall on an upper floor, leading analysts to speculate it could be used to conceal a very tall man. Bin Laden was at least 6'4".

As details emerged about the daily habits of al Kuwaiti, including trips to the local bakery and mosque, Pakistani officials have conducted raids and arrests of people connected in any way to bin Laden's courier or the compound in which both bin Laden and the courier lived.

Among those taken into custody have been the man believed to have designed the secure complex and acted as the project's contractor when it was built in 2005. One Pakistani official named the man as Tahir Javed, though his identity could not be verified. Pakistani officials and local residents say the contractor has since been released.

Another person of interest is a major local landowner named Shamroz who owned several plots next to the bin Laden compound. Neighbors described Shamroz and his sons as the people who knew the al Qaeda courier and his family best. Shamroz and his two sons have reportedly been arrested.

Despite their interaction with the courier, however, none of the locals say they ever saw the man he was protecting outside the compound's walls. They say they had say they had no reason to suspect the world's most wanted man had lived among them for six years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
May042011

'In Front of Her Eyes': Osama bin Laden's Teen Daughter Witnessed Death

George Doyle/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) -- A senior Pakistani security official told ABC News that Osama bin Laden's teen daughter saw her father killed "in front of her eyes," and admitted that Pakistani intelligence failed to catch America's most wanted man even though he was hiding in plain sight.

In an hour-long exclusive interview with ABC News, the official said all of bin Laden's relatives who were captured are cooperating with intelligence. That includes his 13-year-old daughter, who witnessed his killing, bin Laden's youngest wife, who was injured while defending him, and about six to seven other children.

The fact that bin Laden was hiding in a relatively comfortable house was "a failure" on the part of Pakistani officials, the official admitted, but he argued that the CIA was as much to blame for taking so long to find him, despite the money and technological resources at their disposal.

The official expressed bitterness both at an operation that kept them in the dark and at comments from American officials criticizing Pakistani cooperation and competence.

"We didn't know he was there. Yes, that was an omission and we have been remiss in our duties. But if it's true he was living there for years and the U.S. had information, who's incompetent?" he said. "If anyone failed for so long, it's the CIA."

Bin Laden's sprawling compound, located in an affluent neighborhood in the scenic town of Abbottabad, did not attract the attention of Pakistani security officials, in part, because it had been raided in 2003 in an attempt to capture Abu Faraj Al-Libi, an alleged senior al Qaeda operative who was later captured in 2005. Bin Laden did not think lightning would strike twice, the official said.

"It was a double bluff," he said, adding, "That kind of a house is not something extraordinary. Anyone with any amount of money would buy a house like that because they are concerned about security."

Pakistan officials have been on the defensive since the news was announced late Sunday that al Qaeda's leader and America's most wanted man was killed in a top-secret raid conducted by U.S. Navy SEALs.

Though U.S. intelligence agencies had been on bin Laden's trail for years, they did not inform their Pakistani counterparts until after the mission. The Pakistani intelligence was informed at around 2 a.m. Monday, just after the raid was conducted.

CIA head Leon Panetta told Time magazine that U.S. officials feared that "any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets." He also reportedly told members of Congress on Tuesday that the Pakistanis were either "involved or incompetent" and "neither place is a good place to be."

When he received news of bin Laden's death, the Pakistani official told ABC News he "was relieved but not happy with the way it was done."

He said the secrecy of the mission and Panetta's comments in recent days have hit Pakistani officials pretty hard, and will inevitably be "major blow" to U.S.-Pakistan cooperation for the near future.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
May042011

South Africa Task Force to Fight 'Corrective Rape' of Lesbians

Ablestock/Thinkstock(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- South African law enforcement officials Wednesday said a new task force will be formed to address crimes against homosexuals after the gang rape and murder of a young woman believed to have been a victim of "corrective rape," or men attacking lesbians to "turn them straight" and punishing the women for being gay.

"The team will be charged with developing a legislative intervention plan, a public awareness strategy, and LGBTI sensitive shelters," Tlali Tlai, the chief of staff for the Ministry of Justice, told reporters. The announcement came after a parliamentary meeting involving senior officials from the country's law enforcement, legal and social program departments.

More than 170,000 people from all around the world signed a petition calling for the South African government to act after Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian, was gang-raped, stoned and stabbed to death using shards of broken glass nearly two weeks ago. The petition was sponsored by Change.org, a global human rights campaigning website.

"South Africa: Take Action to Stop 'Corrective Rape," the petition states in bold letters. "We demanded that the South African government take 'corrective rape' seriously, and they have agreed to do...and then some," Change.org said after Wednesday's announcement.

The new task force will tackle issues such as whether crimes against the homosexual and transgender community should be considered hate crimes, whether a rape motivated by sexual orientation should receive a harsher sentence and increased sensitivity training for police, social workers and judiciary officials. The team is scheduled to begin work in July.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

The Young Wife Who Defended Osama Bin Laden

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The woman who the White House said charged U.S. Navy SEALs in an apparent desperate last ditch effort to protect Osama bin Laden has been identified as bin Laden's youngest wife, a woman nearly half his age.

The woman, identified by a passport found inside the al Qaeda leader's compound as 29-year-old Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, was in the room when the SEALs took the final, fateful shots at 54-year-old Osama bin Laden and was herself shot in the leg when she rushed, unarmed, at the special operators. She was treated for her wounds and is in custody in Pakistan, officials said.

Fatah, bin Laden's fifth wife and the only one left living with him in the house, had been gifted to the al Qaeda leader from a Yemeni family when she was just a teenager and later had three children with him. Of his other wives, he had divorced one and three others had moved to Syria.

To former high-ranking CIA analyst and former FBI counterterrorism official Phil Mudd, it's not surprising that she apparently was willing to risk her life for the man the U.S. has been hunting for more than a decade.

"He is, in the al Qaeda context, an honorable man and he's viewed in their context not as a terrorist but as a statesman," Mudd told ABC News. "I would be surprised if this guy would sacrifice a wife for this operation, but I'm sure she was willing to get in front of a bullet for him."

But bin Laden's children with Fatah are not his only offspring, as he was survived by at least 18 children. None of the sons, however, are in line to succeed their father for leadership of one of the most feared terror organizations in the world.

"Unlike a lot of Arab governments that are dynastic," said former White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, "al Qaeda has not been and his sons have never played a real operational role of any significance. They did not appear to be groomed for leadership roles in al Qaeda."

During the 40-minute Navy SEAL operation that took bin Laden's life, the U.S. forces also found what one U.S. official described as the "motherlode" of intelligence in the compound.

The material, which includes more than 100 thumb drives and several cell phones, is being analyzed by U.S. intelligence officials in Washington, D.C. as well as Afghanistan and officials hope the information gleaned could help dismantle the entire al Qaeda terror network.

"After attack plans," said Clarke, "[they're looking for] the location of his deputies ... where the money is, where the money comes from, where does it live, and how big an organization is al Qaeda central these days? Is it really an organization anymore at all?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Palestinian Pact a Blow to Mideast Peace Process?

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Fatah and Hamas have signed a Palestinian reconciliation pact, a unity deal that will pose a new challenge for Israel and the U.S., given that Hamas opposes the peace process.

The two sides made their political union official, signing an agreement in Cairo that calls for an interim government and national elections within a year. Palestinian leaders say it's the beginning of a new era in Palestinian politics, a chance, as one official said, to put their house in order.

But the unity deal is expected to set back, if not stop, the peace process. Israel says it won't negotiate with Hamas until it recognizes the Jewish state and renounces violence. The U.S. has demanded the same.  A top Palestinian official said those demands are unfair and unworkable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Osama Bin Laden Escape Plan: Money Found Stitched in His Clothes

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Osama bin Laden appeared to be ready to run at any time with money stitched into his clothes on the day he was shot dead by elite Navy SEALs.

Bin Laden's clothing had 500 euros sewn into it, sources told ABC News.  Intelligence officials are also analyzing 10 cell phones, 10 computers and a 100 thumb drives confiscated from the sprawling compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during the 40-minute raid that resulted in bin Laden's death.

The cell phones and thumb drives were likely used by the two couriers living with bin Laden.  Officials are going through each computer running keyword searches using words like "explosives" or "weddings."  Weddings is a word often used by al Qaeda to signify a bombing.  They are also tracing the phone numbers found.

"There's a lot we have to go through, some encryption, some coding.  It's in another language.  It's in Arabic, so there's a lot to go through before we really find out what we have, but remember small pieces of information can be critically important," said Mike Rodgers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Japan Disasters Spark Volunteer Boom, But System Overwhelmed

MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- So many Japanese have traded in their vacations for grueling volunteer work in tsunami-ravaged communities that they're being turned away in droves, as the country marks a week-long holiday known as "Golden Week."

"We started getting calls to volunteer from large groups in early April," said Hideo Otsuki, who directs volunteer operations in Ishinomaki city.  "We had to set our limit at 1,000 volunteers a day."

Administrators have been so overwhelmed by requests to help, they've had to reject applicants, and ask them to postpone their trips until after the holiday week.

The extended spring break during the first week of May is traditionally a time when Japanese families travel out of town to relax, but with the holiday coming less than two months after the March 11 disasters this year, many Japanese have opted to travel northeast to coastal towns hit hardest by the earthquake and tsunami.

The death toll from the devastating earthquake and tsunami has climbed to 14,755, while 10,706 are still considered missing, according to Japan's National Police Agency.

At the Iwate Disaster Volunteer Center in Morioka, more than 10,000 people have signed up to work in the past five days, in a country where organized volunteer groups are relatively new.  Volunteers have been tasked with shoveling mud, clearing debris and cleaning homes flooded by tsunami waves.

The center is offering bus services to the disaster areas daily, to avoid additional traffic congestion, although some organized tours are offering their own transportation.

In Ishinomaki, much of the debris has been cleared from major roads but piles of trash and rubble still fill residential streets.

Otsuki is pairing volunteers with individual families, so their needs are met directly.  Some are helping strip out floors to clear the mud underneath while others are helping to haul damaged furniture.

With limited lodging available, volunteers have pitched tents, filling parking lots already flooded with out of town cars.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Pakistan Warns US Against Another 'Unauthorized' Mission

George Doyle/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan's Foreign Office warned the U.S. Tuesday that it had better not attempt other missions similar to the one on Sunday that killed Osama bin Laden.

According to the Pakistani government, the U.S. committed "an unauthorized unilateral action" that "shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the United States."

The statement came as the White House expressed its growing impatience with Islamabad for apparently failing to realize that for five or six years, bin Laden was living in a compound just an hour's drive from the capital and in the same neighborhood as the country's top military academy.

For now, President Obama and his senior staff are giving the Pakistanis the benefit of the doubt that they really weren't aware of bin Laden's whereabouts.  If the opposite turns out to be true, relations between the two governments will be seriously jeopardized.

On Tuesday, Marc Grossman, the envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, told Pakistan's army head and chief of intelligence that they were losing support in Congress and need to honestly show they're fighting terrorists in their own country.

Lawmakers want to know if Pakistan's military and intelligence leaders were protecting bin Laden or whether they truly were clueless about his whereabouts.  While the former possibility is much worse, the latter would also be enough for some on Capitol Hill to call for pulling billions in aid to Pakistan that was supposed to be used for counterterrorism purposes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

Bin Laden's Death Doesn't Change Many Minds About Afghanistan

U.S. Dept of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- Americans still have mixed feelings about the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, even after the death of Osama bin Laden, according to a new poll by The Washington Post/Pew Research Center.

With the al Qaeda leader finally out of the way, about 46 percent of respondents say they're now more confident about the U.S mission in Afghanistan.

However, 48 percent still want American forces to be withdrawn from the nearly 10-year-long conflict as soon as possible, a figure virtually unchanged since news of bin Laden's death was announced by President Obama late last Sunday.

There was a bit more optimism in the Post/Pew poll about the long-term security of the U.S. as the result of bin Laden's elimination.  Close to 70 percent say it increases long-term security, though just one in five consider bin Laden's death a big help.

Meanwhile, just over six in 10 Americans now have a "great" or "good" amount of faith in the government's ability to prevent a future terrorist attack on U.S. soil.  But, with bin Laden gone, two-thirds are concerned that al Qaeda will retaliate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Osama bin Laden's Young Wife, Wounded In Raid, Identified

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan) -- Osama bin Laden's family occupied the second and third floor of a sprawling hideout in Pakistan, where one of his sons was killed and his wife was injured in the Sunday raid by U.S. Navy SEALs that took bin Laden's life.

The wife, one of five wives, was his youngest, 29-year old Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah, identified by U.S. authorities as the woman pictured in a passport that a Pakistani TV station said was found in the compound after the raid.

Amal Ahmed was in the bedroom with bin Laden when the Navy SEALs closed in.

"Bin Laden's wife rushed the U.S. assaulter and was shot in the leg, but not killed," said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

Bin Laden married Amal Ahmed when she was a teenager. She was a gift to him from a Yemeni family.

Explained Steve Coll, author of the book The Bin Ladens, "She was a very young woman by the account of the bodyguard who brought her to meet bin Laden from the tribal family that had presented her to bin Laden, presented her to bin Laden for marriage."

Over the years, bin Laden had at least 11 children with his wives.

"He married very young, first a cousin from Syria," said Coll. "Then a couple of very well-educated women from Saudi Arabia."

There are no known photographs of the other wives, and his former sister-in-law, Carmen bin Laden, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer that bin Laden did not like women to talk to him.

"What I do remember very well, you know," said Carmen Bin Laden, "was my brother-in-law was standing at the stairs of the plane. He came and I say, 'Hi,' you know, and you know, and he looked at me and he said, 'Don't talk.'"

By the time bin Laden moved to his mansion in Abbottabad he was left only with Amal Ahmed -- he had divorced one of his other wives, and three others had moved to Syria.

Amal Ahmed was said to be the youngest, the prettiest and his favorite. In fact, he had divorced one of his older wives to marry her and comply with Islamic law, which limits the number of wives to four.

Amal Ahmed's injuries are not considered serious and U.S. officials say she is now in Pakistani custody.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio