News / USA

Informant's Tip was Crucial to bin Laden Operation, Says Analyst

Pakistan army troops remove canvas screens from outside a house, where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2011
Pakistan army troops remove canvas screens from outside a house, where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Greg Flakus

One man with a unique perspective on the killing of Osama bin Laden and other counterterrorism efforts is Fred Burton, an analyst with the Texas-based private global security analysis firm STRATFOR.  

Crucial information sources

According to early accounts of the U.S. military raid in Pakistan that resulted in the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, U.S. intelligence agents were able to track him down through years of analyzing information gathered from various sources, including interrogations of other terrorists who were in custody.  But information about the compound where bin Laden was living might have been provided by sources on the ground.

Intelligence analyst Fred Burton says he believes the key to the bin Laden operation's success was a human asset, a person or persons in Pakistan who provided information to the U.S. intelligence agents.

"Obviously, it was a beautiful counterterrorism operation," said Burton.  "But in essence, the human asset that assisted in leading the counterterrorism team to the location is the real brilliance in this operation."

Money for info

Fred Burton began tracking terrorists in the mid-1980s when he worked with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, before going to work for STRATFOR in 1998.  He says offering money for information on Osama bin Laden might have been crucial.

"I ran the Rewards for Justice program, which is the $20 million for bin Laden," Burton noted.  "So there is no doubt that the individual who assisted in this matter has become a very wealthy man."

Burton says that if a person did assist U.S. intelligence in finding Osama bin Laden, that person and his or her family most likely have already been transported out of Pakistan to a safe location, where they have assumed new identities.

Raw intelligence

Having spent years working with other agents sifting through raw intelligence data for clues, Burton says fresh information gathered in raids like the one Sunday in Pakistan can be critically important in the war on terror.

"It has been my experience in these kinds of operations that you are going to have a tremendous amount of documents, papers, cell phones, possibly satellite phones, if not even a laptop that has been picked up," added Burton.

He says information gathered at the site in Pakistan where bin Laden was killed could lead to more U.S. military anti-terror operations.

Hiding in plain sight

For years, terrorism experts and international authorities had spoken of Osama bin Laden as a man on the run, living in caves and remote villages in the mountains of Afghanistan or in Pakistan's remote tribal regions.  So it came as a surprise to many when he was located in a city in the heart of Pakistan, but not to Fred Burton.

"He was hiding in plain sight in an urban-like environment," added Burton.  "Other al-Qaida high-value targets have been captured in the same way.   So it does not surprise me that he was picked up in that environment.  He has probably been there for a long time."

Fred Burton has authored two books about his work in tracking down terrorists, Ghost:  Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent and Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid