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Declassify Intelligence that Led to Bin Laden

8:15 AM, May 1, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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The leaked JTF-GTMO file for Abu Zubaydah notes that Zubaydah sent Ghul “to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to raise money for [Zubaydah’s] plans to conduct attacks against Israel” in 2000. Deceased al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was supposed to help Zubaydah execute the plot against Israel, according to the U.S. government’s biography of Zubayah. But that may not be how the money from Zubaydah’s donors was spent. That same biography notes:

Although not believed to be directly linked to the attacks on 11 September 2001, the $50,000 that Abu Zubaydah received from Saudi donors and passed to al Qaeda’s senior leadership for his Israel plot may have been used for the attacks.

That is, the money Ghul collected from Saudi donors on behalf of Zubaydah may have been used to fund the 9/11 attacks.

Another leaked JTF-GTMO file says that the “Hassan Ghul network…financed the al Qaeda terrorist organization.” And in yet another JTF-GTMO file, Ghul is described as the brother-in-law of Ahmed Gulam Rabbani, who worked directly for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

And then there is the leaked JTF-GTMO file for Abdu Ali Sharqawi, a top al Qaeda facilitator who is still held in Cuba. In that file, JTF-GTMO says Sharqawi “personally worked with” Ghul, who is described as “a well-known al Qaeda operative known for providing false passports, IDs, and transportation from Pakistan to Afghanistan.”

The leaked JTF-GTMO files also show that Ghul was, in fact, a prolific source and identified numerous al Qaeda detainees. One of them is Fayiz al Kandari, an especially well-connected Kuwaiti who both Ghul and Zubaydah identified as “a scholar who brought many religious books with him” to the Khaldan terrorist training camp.

Declassify relevant intelligence

In the hyper-partisan debate over the intelligence that led to the killing of bin Laden, the Democrats have claimed that the CIA’s coercive interrogation practices were not what led to bin Laden’s courier. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top detainees never came clean about Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti even after being subjected to the EITs. Rodriguez himself says that the CIA “intercepted communications KSM sent to fellow detainees” in which KSM said: “Tell them nothing about the courier!” So, the Democrats and the CIA’s detractors conclude, the techniques were fruitless in the hunt for al Qaeda’s master.

The story of Hassan Ghul suggests a more complicated narrative. The CIA never claimed that KSM or other top al Qaeda operatives told authorities everything they knew. Declassified CIA files note that detainees withheld a certain amount of information from authorities no matter what. But in the case of Ghul, according to Rodriguez and other accounts, it was after the EITs were employed that Ghul spoke at length about Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti. And it was this testimony that led the CIA on the right path.

According to the accounts summarized here, including Rodriguez’s, the key intelligence that led the U.S. to Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan came out of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program – regardless of what techniques were or were not used. To clear up this matter once and for all, the relevant intelligence should be declassified and released to the public.

And there is at least one more issue that deserves declassification. Hassan Ghul, the al Qaeda terrorist who made authorities aware of Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti’s instrumental role, was reportedly transferred to Pakistani custody and released. According to some reports, he has rejoined his comrades in arms.

We deserve to know why such an important terrorist was freed.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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