News / USA

CIA Working on ‘Robust’ Trove of Material from bin Laden Compound

This picture, obtained from ABC News shows the interior bedroom in the mansion where Osama Bin Laden was killed May 2, 2011
This picture, obtained from ABC News shows the interior bedroom in the mansion where Osama Bin Laden was killed May 2, 2011

When American commandos left the compound where Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, they took what a senior U.S. intelligence official calls "a robust collection of materials" that is expected to yield a trove of information about the al-Qaida terrorist network.  
While U.S. military Special Forces troops systematically worked their way through the compound, finding and killing bin Laden and his associates, other members of the team were collecting everything they could that might contain useful information.

President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan talked about that part of the operation at a White House briefing on Monday.

"The people who were on the compound took advantage of their time there to make sure that we were able to acquire whatever material we thought was appropriate and what was needed.  And we are in the process right now of looking at whatever might have been picked up," Brennan said.

Raw footage of the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed:

A senior intelligence official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the Central Intelligence Agency has set up a team to analyze the material in the hope it will lead to other al-Qaida members.  

A former top U.S. counterintelligence official, Marion Bowman, knows what he would have been looking for if he had been on the team.

"I’d be looking for pocket litter.  I’d be looking for anything which would have DNA on it.  I’d be looking for any scraps of paper which would indicate how he is communicating, basically, information that would indicate who he is in communication with, who has been there to get an idea of what kind of network he is still managing or a part of," Bowman said.

Bowman was a U.S. Navy intelligence officer and a Federal Bureau of Investigation official before becoming former President George W. Bush’s number two counterintelligence adviser in 2006.  He has some insight into what kind of team the CIA has likely put together to look at the bin Laden material

"Well, at the very least you’re going to have forensic specialists in computer technology.  But in addition to that you’re probably going to have what law enforcement would call ‘evidence response teams,’ people who are going to be looking for the little bits and pieces that might be around," he said.

And Bowman adds that the team will need translators, perhaps for several languages, and also people who know the Arab, Afghan and Pakistani cultures, to be sure they don’t miss any subtle clues about bin Laden’s activities and contacts.

Officials will not say exactly what the commando team collected, but several news organizations are reporting the material includes a large number of computers, hard disc drives and various other computer memory devices.  

Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan says when it comes to this kind of material "it’s not necessarily quantity, frequently it’s quality" that is important.  Officials hope the quality of the information from Osama bin Laden’s home will prove to be high.  On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney discussed what they hope to learn.

"First of all and most importantly, in any case, is any evidence of planned attacks.  Second, would be information that could lead to other high value targets or other networks that exist that we don’t know about, or that we only know a little about.  And then third, more broadly, on the al-Qaida network itself and then the sustaining network for bin Laden in Pakistan, what allowed him to live in that compound for as long as he did," Carney said.

Carney says President Obama’s goal remains to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al-Qaida.  And the president’s counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said Monday’s operation will not end that effort, but rather the information gathered from the compound will be an important part of continuing it.

"We feel as though this is a very important time to continue to prosecute this effort against al Qaeda, take advantage of the success of yesterday and to continue to work to break the back of al Qaeda," he said.

This phase of the effort will involve the same type of what Brennan called "exceptionally tedious and painstaking" analysis work, over several years, that led officials to one of bin Laden’s couriers and eventually to the terrorist leader himself.

"Over time we were able to piece together additional information, get the name he was known by, his nom de guerre, associate that then eventually with his real name, associate that then with other things that that real name was associated with, and track it until we got to the compound in Abbottabad," he said.

Former Bush administration official Marion Bowman says the information gathered Monday could shorten the investigation process for some al-Qaida operatives, but he says it will also likely spark new and lengthy lines of inquiry.

"I’d like to be able to say that it may shorten the process.  But I think I’d  be more comfortable saying that it’s going to start a process of finding people that they’re not sure of [exactly who they are], or where they’ve been living," Bowman said.

Officials hope the information will provide solid leads that help them hit hard at al-Qaida’s network.  But Bowman acknowledges that bin Laden’s contacts are likely already on the run and working hard to cover their tracks, meaning that what one official called the "relentless" work that netted the world’s most wanted terrorist will continue for some time to come.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid