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
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

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid