Washington—The raid of a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011, that killed Osama bin Laden was the product of a decade-long intelligence manhunt. The compound was located after Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, bin Laden’s facilitator, was identified by the intelligence community.
Contrary to CIA representations, this intelligence operation did not rely on information from CIA detainees after they were subjected to the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques.
The following timeline lays out when and how intelligence on bin Laden was collected.
- November 2001: A phone number associated with Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti is under surveillance by the U.S. government. (page 380, footnote 2143)
- March 2002: The same phone number is found in Abu Zubaydah’s phone book under “Abu Ahmad K.” (page 387, footnote 2190)
- April-July 2002: CIA obtains signals intelligence linking Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti with bin Laden’s family and collects Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti’s emails. (pages 380-381)
- June-October-2002: Four detainees in foreign custody provide information on Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti’s age, physical appearance and family, as well as information on the unique importance of Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, including Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti’s close relationship with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in coordinating terrorist attacks against the United States. (pages 381-382)
- June 25, 2002: Riyadh the Facilitator, while in the custody of a foreign government, suggests Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti may be bin Laden’s courier. (page 382)
- August 2002: Abu Zubair, while in the custody of a foreign government, states that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti “was one of a few close associates” of bin Laden. (page 383)
- March-Sept 2003: During and after coercive interrogation techniques, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed provides conflicting, incomplete and inaccurate information about a facilitator who he calls “Abu Ahmad al-Baluchi.” Months later, when confronted with reporting from a detainee in foreign government custody, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed acknowledges knowing Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti but states Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti worked with low-level al Qaeda members. (pages 387-388, footnote 2190)
- April 2003: Ammar al-Baluchi discusses Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti in foreign government custody with foreign government interrogators using rapport building techniques. (page 388, footnote 2190)
- May 2003: Ammar al-Baluchi is rendered to CIA custody and is nearly immediately subjected to the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques. While undergoing EITs, Ammar admits to fabricating information and states that there were rumors that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was a courier for bin Laden. Later, Ammar retracts this statement and states Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was never a courier. (page 388, footnote 2190).
- July 7, 2003: Abu Zubaydah, 10 months after coercive interrogation techniques, states that he does not know Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti. (page 387, footnote 2190)
- January 2004: Before being subjected to the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques, Hassan Ghul is questioned and sings “like a tweetie bird.” He reveals that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was bin Laden’s closest assistant, that bin Laden probably lives in a house with a family in Pakistan, that bin Laden would have minimal security and that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti would handle all of bin Laden’s needs. The day after this reporting is provided to CIA Headquarters, the CIA transfers Ghul to another CIA detention site and immediately subjects Ghul to the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques. (page 384)
- August 2005: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed states that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was not a courier and that he has never heard of Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti transporting letters to bin Laden. (page 388, footnote 2190)
- February and September 2009: Voice samples from 2001-2002 signals intelligence collection are compared to other voice samples which led the intelligence community to assess that Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was located in a specific area in Pakistan. Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was then geolocated and tracked to the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (page 381, footnote 2147)