How We Got Him

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The story of how our intelligence services and special forces tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden is one of extraordinary dedication and in the end, a risky riverboat gamble that almost blew up into tragedy. For despite all the hard work of the intelligence professionals who were pursuing the leads that eventually led to bin Laden’s hideout, when Navy SEALs burst through the door of the mansion they were “not certain” that the terrorist was even there.

What was certain was that the painstaking process that led to a “high degree of certainty” that Osama bin Laden was hiding in that compound in Abbottabad spanned 4 years, two administrations, and dozens of CIA analysts following up hundreds of leads. They eventually tracked one lone man across the entire expanse of Pakistan, zeroed in on his location, and developed the “actionable intelligence” to give policy makers the choice to attack or stand pat.

All of this with no thanks to the Pakistanis — who must now be viewed with even more suspicion about their cooperation with America’s enemies. Osama bin Laden was not hiding in a cave somewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province as many believed. Instead, he was ensconced in relative comfort in an upscale neighborhood in a city — Abbottabad — where an entire regiment of the Pakistani army was based and the country’s military academy was headquartered. The area in which the terrorist was hiding out had many retired Pakistani army officers.

The house was built in 2005 and was designed to house someone of great importance, intelligence analysts believe. One report from Gulf News says that the house was actually a former safehouse for the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI. Given the location of the structure, that is not beyond the realm of possibilities.

The US government did not trust the ISI, as Wikileaks documents show. One document says that “In Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden wasn’t an invisible man, and many knew his whereabouts in North Waziristan,” but whenever security forces approached, the ISI tipped bin Laden off.

Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan flatly told reporters that it was “inconceivable” that bin Laden did not have the support of at least some elements of the Pakistani government. This suspicion led the US to keep the attack a secret from President Zardari and his government until the SEALs were safely out of the country.

The story of how Osama bin Laden was killed begins in the secret prisons abroad and the Guantanamo Bay detention center where some detainees told interrogators of several couriers used by al-Qaeda to avoid electronic surveillance. One such courier piqued the interest of the CIA: a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a trusted assistant of al-Qaeda number 3 Abu Faraj al-Libbi (captured in 2005). Other detainees mentioned that bin Laden himself trusted this particular courier. However, all the CIA had on the target was his al-Qaeda nickname.

KSM, who had, by this time, been cooperating with his jailers, was confronted with the name of the courier and denied knowing him. The denial spurred the analysts to action and they began a worldwide search for the full name of the courier. Later that year, the CIA learned his full name, it is thought, through interrogations at one or more of the secret prisons the CIA maintained at the time.

It took two more years to focus on where the courier actually lived in Pakistan. No details have emerged as to how this part of the investigation was carried out, but it would imply both human assets and technical surveillance was involved.

Then, in 2009, intelligence began to zero in on where the courier and his brother operated. The fact that the courier was taking extraordinary precautions, strictly adhering to operational security, gave analysts hope that they were indeed on the right track.

The break came in August 2010, when the courier was spotted on an Islamabad street. It should be noted that there was nothing “lucky” about this break. The lead was the product of long hours of painstaking examination of the tiniest slivers of intelligence, agonizing over whether the nuggets of information were valuable, making intelligent judgments about where the information might fit into the overall picture they were developing, and finally being rewarded with a breakthrough.

Luck had nothing to do with it.

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  • Shyam kumar

    HOOYAAAAAAHHHHH !!!!!!!!………. " Justice Shall and Will be done !!!". :)

  • ImaFreeAmerican

    The government needs to show pictures of him. We need proof that they really did kill this freak. There's a fake picture out there making the rounds so that causes people to mistrust. The White House should get this out quickly and shut down any doubt.

    • Mike

      The onus should be on Bin Laden and his supporters to prove that he is alive.Let the doubters doubt.Vital information should be secret.There's no need for tell-all.

      • ImaFreeAmerican

        Please don't get me wrong "I" believe he's dead but as you said the doubters and I might add the conspiracy people need to see for themselves then they can check for Photoshop fixes etc. and get it out of their system. The only thing I have a problem with is that they had a traditional muslim service for him? That just seems to stretch it a bit but, that might have been for the muslim community around the world. Who knows for sure.

  • Gunner57

    How does Rick Moran know how they got him? He doesn't. I agree with ImaFreeAmerican. Its time to show the proof that he is dead in the first place. Now the Muslims are using this lack of proof against us. All we have is the Obama Administration's word which is all the neocon/liberal Moran has as well.

  • davarino

    First off, if Osama is alive he will be thumbing his nose at us within days. I am sure we got him. It still would be nice to see him with his ventilated head, and chucking him in the sea would be nice as well. See ya later fish food. Oh and as far as honoring the traditions of islam, they should have vaporized him and shot him out of a cannon.

    How bout that Al Kada, do you have satellites? Oh you dont have those? How bout drones? No? How bout elite commandos that can sneak into any country and nab anybody you want? No? We got your intel and any one of you rats could be next. Go ahead take revenge and really piss us off.


  • Steve Chavez

    Did they say the bullets that killed UBL? I'm thinking since they shot him at close range, and the use of powerful weapons, that the bullets went right through him. Wouldn't they be put in the Oval Office desk for viewing of high ranking visitors? Of course, they could have his head in the freezer to show at State Dinners!

  • tagalog

    I think a fitting way of proving that it was Osama bin Laden that our SEALs killed would be for one of our TV news channels to film the Secretary of Defense sawing off bin Laden's head on TV and send the film to al-Jazeera.

    • LibertyMan

      …. and wrapped in pig skin.

  • tanstaafl

    "It's an old Sicilian message – tonight, Osama sleeps with the fishes" – Godfather I

  • steven l

    Done with OBL. The next adversary is a lot more vicious and has multiple tentacles all over the world.


  • Steve Chavez

    How many time have I written this over the years?

    "When the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain fell, we cheered, our American Communists cried! When the Twins fell, we cried, they cheered!"

    Now I can add, "When Osama died, we cheered, they cried!"


    • Steve Chavez

      "Osama bin Laden is dead, Obama come home!" from Communist Party USA's,!by: John Case May 2 2011

      I feel no relief at the assassination of Osama bin Laden. I thought I would – his leading role in the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 nearly killed my wife who was attending a conference in the South Tower.

      Three-quarters of a million dead in Iraq with a U.S.-military-dependent government no less corrupt than Saddam Hussein's.

      On the same weekend Osama bin Laden is killed, British and Italian planes kill Muammar Gadaffi's son and three grandchildren.

      What goes around comes around. We need no more imperialistic karma to come back and kill us."

  • tagalog

    Three-quarters of a million dead in Iraq because of the U.S.-led coalition's invasion is not true. It is a wild exaggeration. The website Iraq Body Count lists a minimum of 100,627 deaths and a maximum of 109,924 civilian deaths as of May 2, 2011. They state: "Wikileak's Iraq War Logs may add 15,000 civilian deaths."

    So the maximum number of civilian dead is (theoretically) 124,924 deaths, nowhere near the 750,000 ("three quarters of a million") cited.

    I don't know how corrupt the Iraqi government is, but at least they're not committing genocide, as Saddam Hussein's government was doing with the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. And they're not developing nuclear weapons and other WMDs.

    I felt relief when Hussein was captured and later executed, I feel relief that Osama bin Laden has finally reaped the oats he sowed so long ago, and I have no strong feelings about Khaddafi's son and grandchildren being killed, certainly no more feelings for them than they would have for me had I been on, say, the Lockerbie Pan Am flight. My strongest feeling about the Libya brouhaha is that the U.S. shouldn't be involved in it.

  • Jim

    Isn't it nice Osama was stabilized in that one place at that one time.
    He could have still been wandering around Waziristan as he did for a number of years.
    There in the fortress he felt safe and invincible ;so no escape tunnel no detectors
    no guards?
    And a large sore thumb of a building sticking out with out any CIA types finding out
    what it was for,or who was in it for many years.
    When the messenger showed up did that prove Osama was actually there at the time.
    Who decided that Obama was actually at home? Well maybe for some unknown reason he couldn't leave. What was that reason?

  • brimp

    Didn't I hear Madeline Albright claim that Bin Ladin was dead and on ice back in 2003? I think she claimed that Bush would produce is body in 2004 to get reelected. Something is fishy here. Dumping the body at sea is very odd if he was killed hundreds of miles away from the sea. Now they are going to produce a report on his DNA? If his birth certificate (the one that he claimed for 2 years that did not exist) is easily proven to be a fake, how can we believe anything this current crop of public servants say?

  • SAM000

    The people say;
    The Americans do always the right things, after having tested all the wrong ways.

    OBL could be killed at 2002, and Alqaida could be aborted in that time,
    Unfortunately State Dept. of that time wanted to deal with Mullah Khatami who was the Iranian President before AhmadiNejad.
    Collin Powell was negotiating with the Mullahs via UK foreign Minister JACK STRAW.

    OBL's son and 500 Alqaida members had got safe heaven in IRAN (the cities of ZANJAN and KARAJ).

    CIA and FBI of 2002 were arresting anybody who tried to alert USA Authorities about the presence of OBL familly and Alqaida Members in IRAN!!

    Al Qaida became operative in IRAQ after 2003 with the support of the Iranian services.

    Now, Al-Qaida is everywhere, Iraq was extracted from Saddam and offered to the Mullahs.

    OBL, was inactive, while OBL's GODFATHER (Ahmadinejad) travels freely to USA.

    The BIG BOSS of OBL is labeled PRESIDENT by your USA Government, WE CALL HIM GENOCIDER.