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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid