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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More