It seems that US Intelligence had been long monitoring a figure known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, since having come across his name in intelligence gatherings at least four years ago.
Here is an excellent article by the UK’s Telegraph that sheds light on how Bin Laden’s secret hideout was comprehensively sniffed out by the US intelligence services’ diligent tracking of Bin Laden’s courier from the Tora Bora caves and mountains until present day.
The courier who led American special forces to Osama bin Laden’s hideout was an al-Qaeda computer expert who helped train the 9/11 hijack team, according to leaked US government files.
For the past two years, American spies had been monitoring the courier, known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, after learning his name four years ago, according to US officials.
When al-Kuwaiti made a phone call in 2010, he unknowingly led the Americans to the doorstep of the world’s most wanted terrorist. He was said to have been among those killed alongside bin Laden in yesterday’s dramatic raid.
Secret American military files from Guantanamo Bay, leaked to Wikileaks and seen by The Daily Telegraph, suggest that al-Kuwaiti may have been with bin Laden ever since he disappeared from the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.
The file for the Guantanamo detainee, Muhammad Mani al-Qahtani, who was to have been the “20th hijacker” on 9/11, contains a reference to the key US intelligence thread that led directly to bin Laden.
According to the file, al-Kuwaiti provided al-Qahtani with computer training for the mission to attack the US in the summer of 2001. Al-Qahtani was told by the lead 9/11 hijacker, Muhammad Atta, “to make reservations and buy airline tickets to Orlando for five individuals” including himself.
“Detainee [al-Qahtani] received computer training from al-Qaida member Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti in preparation for his mission to the US,” according to the file, dated 30 October 2008.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, gave the order to al-Kuwaiti to train al-Qahtani in how to send emails. This was because “when someone went on a mission, he would need to know how to send messages and email was safer than talking on the phone”, according to the file.
“Al-Kuwaiti took detainee to a local internet cafe for his training.
“Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti was a senior al-Qaida facilitator and subordinate of [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed]. Al-Kuwaiti worked in the al-Qaida media house operated by [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] in Kandahar and served as a courier.”
The file suggests that the courier’s identity was provided to the US by another key source, the al-Qaida facilitator Hassan Ghul, who was captured in Iraq in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA. Ghul was never sent to Guantanamo but was believed to have been taken to a prison in Pakistan.
He told the Americans that al-Kuwaiti travelled with bin Laden. The file states:
“Al-Kuwaiti was seen in Tora Bora and it is possible al-Kuwaiti was one of the individuals [al-Qahtani] reported accompanying UBL [bin Laden] in Tora Bora prior to UBL’s disappearance.”
The picture that emerges from al-Qahtani’s Guantanamo file supports statements given in the last 24 hours by US officials, who named Ghul as the “linchpin” in the intelligence operation to find bin Laden.
One official told the Associated Press that it was a phone from al-Kuwaiti that led the US directly to the walled compound in Abbottabad, north-east Pakistan, where bin Laden was finally shot by US special forces.
As a courier, al-Kuwaiti, whose real name may have been Sheikh Abu Ahmed, was key to maintaining bin Laden’s secrecy and safety for almost 10 years.
All of bin Laden’s communications were conducted through trusted couriers because he knew that US intelligence would be monitoring telephone and email conversations for any clue as to his whereabouts.
The CIA gained crucial information confirming the role of al-Kuwaiti from two inmates at Guantanamo Bay – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi.
Al-Libi’s file, dated 10 September 2008, also refers to his contact with bin Laden’s personal courier, although he gives another name.
In another remarkable twist, the very next sentence in the document includes a reference to al-Libi living in Abbottabad, the town where the al-Qaeda leader was finally found.