“Enhanced Interrogation”: How CIA Tracked Osama Bin Laden
Six years ago the US SEAL Team 6 killed America’s enemy number one Osama Bin Laden during a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Although the US and the rest of the world rejoiced at the news the exact details of the operation remained unknown. Many people had been wondering that how did the CIA succeed in tracking down the most wanted man on the planet.
Dr. James Mitchell is widely considered as the architect of CIA’s torture program, in his latest book titled “Enhanced Interrogation” he has given some details of the methods and techniques used by the CIA that led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The CIA had approached Dr. Mitchell after the 9/11 attacks to come up with an interrogation plan; he already had experience in training US service members to resist interrogation techniques by the enemy.
According to the Dr. Mitchell: “Key information was provided by Ammar al-Baluchi, the nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad”.
Dr. Mitchell appeared on Fox & Friends and provided and revealed that Osama’s location was identified while interrogating al-Baluchi, the CIA found out that Osama Bin Laden was receiving letters through couriers.
The prime suspect of 9/11 Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was also interviewed for thousands of hours by Dr. Mitchell who found out that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay had developed ways to communicate with each other and pass on information secretly. Dr. Mitchell said during the show.
During one of his interviews by the interrogators, Al-Baluchi made a mistake and talked about a courier who delivers letters to high-ranking Al-Qaeda officials. However, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad denied the existence of any courier, but the interrogators did not believe him and started to keep an extra eye on his communications.
“Khalid Sheikh Muhammad put out a message in what he thought was a clandestine way of communicating with other detainees to not talk about the courier. That signaled to the interrogators that that man was important and we needed to do more,” Dr. Mitchell said during the show.
He further added: “He did something that we were happy to see. They had figured out some way they thought was secret to communicate with other, detainees.
Later the courier was identified as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, CIA placed a call on his phone and found out about the compound in Abbottabad in which Osama had been residing. This compound was built in 2006, and it was quite large as compared to the surrounding buildings.
There was no telephone of internet connections in the compound, and the trash was burned rather than having picked up. Reportedly there were 24 people residing in the compound which had 18 foot high walls with barbed wire on top of them. There were two security gates, and Bin Laden and his family were residing at the second and third levels.
According to Dr. Mitchell, a team of expert interrogators and analysts gathered every small piece of data they could find and then plugged them into what he called a “giant matrix” to connect the dots. This is how the CIA was able to track down the leader of Al-Qaeda.
Dr. Mitchell told Fox & Friends “What allowed them to find him using signals intelligence was that there was another person that we did enhanced interrogations on. He said well this guy that you’re looking for, the courier, it sounds like he has a speech impediment because he talks in native Arabic but he substitutes Pashto words, and he does it randomly, and it’s very difficult, so when you listen to him, it sounds like he has a speech impediment. So that allowed the people who monitor signals to figure out where that guy was living”.
Dr. Mitchell has been criticized for his methods, and people have even resorted to calling him a torturer and a war criminal, but he has always defended his work. In his defense, he said: “I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best I could.”
Another important fact is that the compound in which Osama Bin Laden had been living for many years is just a short distance away from the military academy of Pakistan. The city of Abbottabad has a significant presence of military at any time which begs the question: How did Bin Laden manage to stay under the radar of Pakistan’s intelligence agency which is frequently listed as the best intelligence agency in the world.
Even though the ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques used by the CIA have been criticized but the organization claims that their methods have been successful and these techniques lead them to Bin Laden and many other important targets. This shows the resourcefulness and abilities of CIA which makes it one of the best if not the best intelligence agency in the world.