Qubad Talabani, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Representative to the United States, wrote proudly on Twitter that “Kurdish security forces arrested the ‘lynchpin’ that provided info to help the US find and kill bin Laden.”

New Documentary: Manhunt, about the CIA’s search for Osama bin Laden

5.5.2013 – Van Wilgenburg – Ghul will travel through Kurdish territory to get into Iraq. The CIA enlists the help of the Kurdish government to capture him. The CIA asks permission to use harsh interrogation techniques against him. The Kurds pick Ghul up and debrief him. In the debriefing, he reveals that bin Laden uses a single courier with the nomme de guerre “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti ” THEN the CIA gets its chance to interrogate Ghul. What happens then is still classified. But those who have followed the bin Laden case for a while have always assumed that BECAUSE the CIA did interrogate Ghul, the information about the courier — the man who sent instructions about Iraq to him — came about during the CIA part of the interrogation. Bakos, who was in a position to know, has been able to get the CIA to declassify the fact the Ghul information came out BEFORE the CIA got to him. Before.

    Now — here’s what we know about how other parts of the bin Laden courier story were put together.  The CIA developed a human source within al Qaeda who learned Al Kuwaiti’s real name. (This is according to the CIA’s chief clandestine operations officer, Jose Rodriguez.)    The importance of al-Kuwaiti was confirmed when the CIA intercepted communication between Khalid Sheik Mohammed to other prisoners at a black site; KSM was apparently trying to warn his fellow prisoners NOT to say anything about the courier during their aggressive interrogations. The CIA had just asked KSM about him.

    So — it was the Kurds, debriefing Ghul before the CIA ever touched him, who provided the insight about the courier. And it was a human source who gave the CIA his real name. Maybe the CIA did subject Ghul to torture after it picked him up — Bakos won’t say what happened about the CIA took custody of him — but by that time, he’d already tattled. And no, the Kurds did not torture Ghul. He literally gave up the name almost immediately upon capture.

    Thanks to Bakos, who I’ll talk about in another post, a key bit of the puzzle can be filled in: Based on what we know SO FAR, torture did not PRODUCE the intelligence leads that led to bin Laden’s killing.

    Manhunt premiers on HBO May 1. source:  


Kurds of Iraq Played Major Role in Finding bin Laden

ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan – 5.5.2013 –  The arrest of the al-Qaeda courier Hassan Ghul in 2004 by Kurdish security forces near the Iranian border played a role in the eventual downfall of Osama bin Laden.

    Lahur Talabani, head of the Sulaimani-based Counter Terrorism Group (CTG), claims that capturing Ghul was one of the biggest achievements of his counterterrorism group.   Lahur told Rudaw that Ghul was arrested by his forces in 2004 in a checkpoint near the town of Kalar, in Iraqi Kurdistan, close to Iran’s western border.

    It is reported that Ghul was carrying a 17-page memo from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, to Osama bin Laden. It was clear from the memo that al-Zarqawi had urged bin Laden to throw his support behind starting a civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq while requesting al Qaeda’s chief to provide manpower. Senior U.S. officials claimed the letter was to be taken abroad to Osama bin Laden. But there are other contradictory reports as to whether Ghul was caught trying to enter Iraq with money and combat operation manuals for Zarqawi or captured leaving Iraq with a report about al Qaeda’s activities in that country.

    The Washington Post reported that Zarqawi had written in his letter that if al Qaeda adopted his method in Iraq, he would pledge “fealty to you [bin Laden] publicly and in the news media.” But if bin Laden’s group did not join in, said the document, “the disagreement will not spoil [our] friendship.”

    Ghul’s mission was to determine whether the tide was already turning against the jihadists in Iraq and whether al Qaeda should join the fight as an opportunity to reassert its leadership role in the region. Ghul had met Zarqawi in early January 2004 to discuss the possibility of al Qaeda’s participation in future Iraqi operations. After his arrest, Kurdish security officials faxed a photograph of Ghul to the CIA to confirm his identity. Lahur Talabani said that his group had received intelligence about Ghul’s movements and that he was travelling from Iran to Iraq’s Diyala province in the Sunni triangle.

    “That was one of the biggest catches, because there was a lot of stuff written in that message,” Lahur Talabani told the English newspaper Soma Digest.

    Ghul was handed over to the US military by the Kurdish counterterrorism group, who had been interrogated before removing him from the country.

    The key information that Ghul had provided was the nickname of al-Kuwait, bin Laden’s special courier in Pakistan. Ghul’s documents also gave the CIA insight into some of al Qaeda’s short- and long-term plans. Ghul’s arrest was used by former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004 to justify the Iraq War.

    “He was moving money and messages around South Asia and the Middle East to other al Qaeda leaders. He was a part of this network of haters that we’re dismantling [in Iraq],” Bush said.    But the Kurdish counterterrorism chief is not sure if Ghul’s arrest by his team led to the discovery and death of Osama bin Laden.

    “I haven’t heard anything about that yet. He was taken away by the Americans and we don’t know what information he gave them,” said Lahur Talabani.

    Former Counter Terrorism Intelligence Analyst and al Qaeda expert Leah Farrall told Rudaw that ‘Hassan Ghul’s links go way back. He was very closely associated with Zarqawi and a network that operated separately from al Qaeda until around late 2000. Hassan Ghul also probably knew Abu Musab al-Zarqawi directly and knew figures in this network.” Farrall said that Ghul was crucial in the operation against Osama bin Laden, “but there was so much that was already known, and here I mean before Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested, too [in 2003].”

    Ghul’s nationality is interchangeably reported as Pakistani and Yemeni. Apart from giving away al-Kuwaiti, bin Laden’s courier’s nickname, Ghul told CIA interrogators that al-Kuwaiti was close to Faraj al-Libi, al Qaida’s operational commander.    Abu Faraj Al-Libi was captured in 2005 by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) north of Peshwar. Al-Libi denied the existence of al-Kuwaiti, but it is believed that he eventually revealed valuable information that led to bin Laden’s compound.   After the successful operation by US Navy SEALs that led to the death of bin Laden, American officials said they had found the compound by closely watching one of bin Laden’s couriers, namely al-Kuwaiti, who was also killed in the raid.

    US officials said that information provided by Ghul was key in hunting down bin Laden’s personal courier. “Hassan Ghul was the linchpin,” a US official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday. Without the arrest of Ghul by Kurdish forces, it is unlikely that Osama bin Laden could have been found this time. Qubad Talabani, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Representative to the United States, wrote proudly on Twitter that “Kurdish security forces arrested the ‘lynchpin’ that provided info to help the US find and kill bin Laden.”   Furthermore, Qubad Talabani wrote that he was willing to give more information to Turkish Policy Center, based in Washington, DC, about the success of the Kurdish security forces in combating terrorism.

    “I’m happy to brief TPC [Turkish Policy Center] on how Kurds have contributed to WOT [War on Terror] incl’ [including] assisting US in OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] when some of their allies let them down.” Ghul is said to have been working directly under Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, one of the planners of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

    Memos from the US Justice Department of Legal Council also show that Ghul was one of the twenty-eight CIA detainees held at a black site in Poland, who were subject to “enhanced interrogation techniques.”    On Friday May 6th, President Barak Obama met with members of the team that carried out the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.    Later on, President Obama gave a speech to more than two thousand US troops in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in which he praised the team’s bravery and called the week a historic one for Americans.  “This has been a historic week in the life of our nation,” he said. “Thanks to the incredible skill, courage of countless individuals, intelligence, military over many years, the terrorist leader who struck our nation on 9/11 will never threaten America again.” / Posted by Wladimir van Wilgenburg