Update 4/5/12 
US Army : Dead Bin Laden Digital Hard Disk Retrieved Documents  -  3/5/12
Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?
May 03, 2012

Authors: Don Rassler, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, Liam Collins, Muhammad al-Obaidi, Nelly Lahoud

This report is a study of 17 de-classified documents captured during the Abbottabad raid and released to the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). They consist of electronic letters or draft letters, totaling 175 pages in the original Arabic and 197 pages in the English translation. The earliest is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011.  These internal al-Qa`ida communications were authored by several  leaders, most prominently Usama bin Ladin.  In contrast to his public statements that focused on the injustice of those he believed to be the “enemies” of Muslims, namely corrupt “apostate” Muslim rulers and their Western “overseers,” the focus of Bin Ladin’s private letters is Muslims’ suffering at the hands of his jihadi “brothers”. He is at pain advising them to abort domestic attacks that cause Muslim civilian casualties and focus on the United States, “our desired goal.” Bin Ladin’s frustration with regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements is the most compelling story to be told on the basis of the 17 de-classified documents. “Letters from Abbottabad” is an initial exploration and contextualization of 17 documents that will be the grist for future academic debate and discussion.

A note on translation:

The quality of the English Translation provided to the CTC is not adequate throughout. When the translation was deemed inadequate, quotations cited in this report have either been amended or translated anew by Nelly Lahoud. Furthermore, the conversion of the dating of the letters from the Hijri to the Gregorian calendar is inaccurate in some places. The Appendix provides corrected dates to some of the letters, along with some pointers on how some letters relate to others.  For those wishing to conduct their own analysis of the documents, it is highly recommended to refer to the Original Arabic Documents, not the translations.(PDF)

Media on This Topic  5/5/12
Bin Laden letters a boost for Obama

THE selective release of documents from Osama bin Laden's computer, seized in the raid on his Abbottabad compound last year, has been carefully timed to allow US President Barack Obama to cash in on the dead terrorist for his own re-election campaign. 

The 17 declassified but highly edited documents released on Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point represent a tiny portion of the material found of hard drives and flash drives when Navy SEALs led the May 2, 2011 raid that killed bin Laden.The CTC, a military analysis group that is independent of government, points out that it cannot fully vouch for the documents because they had already been through a comprehensive intelligence vetting process before arriving in their hands.The documents depict a man who had lost control of his fragmented Al Qaeda organisation and was reduced to sending instructions by mail that could take weeks or months to reach their destination, if they were ever sent at all.(Heruldsun)

The Bin Laden diaries

In its continuing effort to remind Americans of the one shining moment of the Obama administration — the killing of Osama bin Laden — the White House this week arranged the release of 17 declassified documents seized during that SEAL raid.The captured documents were turned over to the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point for translation and analysis, and they make fascinating reading.Bin Laden fantasized about having Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, then commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, assassinated, but wanted to make sure that Vice President Joe Biden was spared because he is “totally unprepared” to take over “which will lead the U.S. into a crisis.”(BostonHerald)

 CIA - CIA/DOJ  NYC District Court Special Document on The Death of Bin Laden (Pages 15 - 17) 17/6/11 PDF

Navy -Carrier Stops In Oahu After Burying Bin Laden  & USS Carl Vinson Back in US Also in Homeport at Naval Base Coronado  6/11 -  61 Photos & 2 Videos  Scroll Down to The Special  Slideshow
NSA - General Keith B. Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency, in Kabul, Afghanistan, 28/7/10 Scroll Down to The Special  Slideshow - 14 Photos

U.S. Dismisses Criminal Charges Against Bin Laden

Federal authorities used DNA from "multiple family members" and facial recognition technology to identify the body of Usama bin Laden, according to court papers filed Friday that formally dropped terrorism charges against the slain Al Qaeda leader.The papers detail the CIA's painstaking efforts to make sure the man killed May 2 during a Navy SEALs raid of his compound in Pakistan was indeed bin Laden.After the raid, U.S. forces collected DNA from bin Laden's body and took it to a base in Afghanistan, said a statement signed by a top U.S. counterterrorism official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General George Z. Toscas.CIA personnel there compared it "with a comprehensive DNA profile derived from DNA collected from multiple members of bin Laden's family," the statement said. "These tests confirmed that the sample (from the raid) genetically matched the derived comprehensive DNA profile for Usama bin Laden."It added: "The possibility of a mistaken identification is approximately one in 11.8 quadrillion."The CIA used the facial recognition technology to compare old photos of bin Laden to photos of his body, the papers said, and concluded "with high confidence that the deceased individual was bin Laden."The document also makes a passing reference to a "significant quantity" of terrorist network material recovered at the hideout, including "correspondence between Usama bin Laden and other senior Al Qaeda leaders that concerns a range of Al Qaeda issues."The papers filed in federal court in Manhattan officially ended a case that began with hopes of seeing bin Laden brought to justice in a civilian court.A grand jury voted to indict the Al Qaeda leader in June 1998 on charges he supported the ambush that left 18 American soldiers dead in Somalia in 1993. The indictment was originally filed under seal but was made public later that year.The indictment was later revised to charge bin Laden in the dual bombings of two American embassies in East Africa that killed 224 on Aug. 7, 1998, and in the suicide attack on the USS Cole in 2000. None of the charges involved the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.Also named as a defendant was Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye doctor and longtime bin Laden deputy who has become Al Qaeda's new leader.The charges included conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. nationals and conspiracy to damage and destroy U.S. property.Around the time the charges were first filed, the CIA's bin Laden unit was pursuing a plan to use Afghan operatives to capture bin Laden and hand him over for trial either in the United States or in an Arab country, according to the 9/11 Commission.This week, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan signed off on a request made by federal prosecutors to dismiss the charges -- a formality when defendants under indictment die.

Interpol: Killing Osama Bin Laden Result of US and its counterparts worldwide gathering and sharing of intelligence 

LYON, France - INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has congratulated the US and its counterparts worldwide for the gathering and sharing of intelligence that permitted the US to locate Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, and to launch a targeted operation to bring him to justice - an operation that resulted in his killing by US special forces.


Inside Al Qeda Flash Drives Compound in Abbottabad 
CIA investigators visit bin Laden's compound


A team of forensic experts from America’s Central Investigation Agency (CIA) on Friday scoured the former hideout of slain Osama bin Laden for new clues.

The al Qaeda chief was killed in a top-secret air-borne raid by US Navy SEALs on May 2 in Abbottabad. Friday’s development comes days after the Pentagon confirmed that Islamabad had returned the wreckage of the US helicopter which was destroyed in the Abbottabad operation.Pakistani authorities had granted the Pentagon’s request to allow CIA experts to visit the compound where Bin Laden had reportedly lived undetected for years.  In the May 2 operation the US Navy SEALs had managed to collect what was described by US officials as a “trove of information”.The CIA believes that a thorough search of the complex could yield vital documentary information about al Qaeda’s operational plans of the past and future strategies. Police and local sources told The Express Tribune that more than five CIA forensic experts were flown into Abbottabad on a helicopter at around 12:30pm.They scoured the heavily-guarded compound in Bilal Town for an hour for additional clues, for example, evidence hidden in walls or buried under floors or elsewhere in the compound.Sleuths of Pakistan’s spy agencies accompanied the CIA experts who reportedly used sophisticated equipment to scour the compound, looking for clues.Police was tasked to make a second cordon 600 feet away from the Bin Laden compound. Media persons were barred from covering the trip and television cameramen were not allowed to film the compound even from a distance.The Abbottbad police chief and Deputy Superintendent Police (Cantt) Aziz Afridi were not available for comment.


Pakistan Printed Newspaper DAWN 28/5/11 - In The Front Page...
Bin Laden Contacts 1.Flash Drives 2.Couriers 3.Internet Caffes 
DailyMotion  Bin Laden Contacts 1.Flash Drives 2.Couriers 3.Internet Caffes        &  Youtube
EnCase Forensic Platform is one of Bin Laden Task Force Tools

EnCase® Decryption Suite (EDS)Search and collect evidence from encrypted volumes, drives, and files.Fastbloc® SE (Software Edition)Fastbloc SE is a write-blocking software solution for acquisitions of USB, FireWire, IDE, and SCSI media..
EnCase® Smartphone Examiner.Smartphones are everywhere. The evidence they hold can be the key to a successful investigation outcome; if you have a way to acquire it.With the new EnCase® Smartphone Examiner app, critical evidence on smartphones can be easily acquired.EnCase® Smartphone Examiner enables an investigator to capture evidence from devices that use:•  Apple iOS •  HP Palm OS •  Windows Mobile OS• Google Android OS • RIM Blackberry OS.In addition, investigators can acquire data from Blackberry and iTunes backup files as well as a multitude of SD cards. 

 CIA Tool Breaking Al-Qaeda Laptop
DailyMotion  CIA Tool Breaking Al-Qaeda Laptop    &  Alternative Youtube
Finding treasures in Bin Laden computers

While government officials aren't exactly sharing details about their approach, McLaughlin believes that they'll be using Guidance Software's EnCase utility, arguably the market leader in forensics analysis. "They're making copies of all the evidence," he says. "Then they'll parcel out the work to the different examiners. You'll undelete everything you can. If there's any encryption you have to deal with, you'll handle it."

Source: 2.7 terabytes of data recovered from bin Laden compound

A law enforcement source tells CBS News that 2.7 terabytes of data were recovered from the laptops, computers, hard drives and other storage devices seized from the bin Laden compound. It's unclear whether all of the 2.7 terabytes are original files or if there are multiple copies of files. To put the amount of data recovered in perspective, just one terabyte of data could hold about 2,000 hours of audio or 220 million pages of text.

Intelligence officials have not said how they are analyzing the data, but a DOD computer forensic analyst who works on computers captured on the battlefield tells CBS News forensic analysts are most likely using search indexing tools and software to rapidly analyze seized electronic devices to locate information of interest to the intelligence committee

Sources said much of the material seized in the daring raid was encrypted so the messages could not be read if they were intercepted. 

Among the material confiscated was al Qaida propaganda material including al Qaida messaging strategies to inspire and recruit new Jihadists. There is some indication that bin Laden was continuing to develop his strategy to utilize homegrown operatives that were intimately famiilar with the countries in which they lived. There was also material on current events, in an apparent effort to keep bin Laden abreast on news from around the world.

The compound did not appear to have been used as a nerve center or a command and control post, but analysts are looking further to determine the extent of bin Laden's involvement in day to day decisions and long-term strategy.

The first priority, sources tell CBS News, is for analysts to determine if the mother-lode of data contains any actionable plots in the works against the U.S. and western interests. Analysts will also seek to identify any al Qaida operatives or extremists in the United States or elsewhere.

A good portion of the material is being analyzed at CIA headquarters at Langley and at other intelligence community at sites around the world.

Another top priority for analysts is to search for evidence of a connection between al Qaida and al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in particular links between bin Laden and AQAP's leader Anwar al awlaqi, living in Yemen, and Nasir al-Wahishi, AQAP's operational leader.

Digital forensic and evidence recovery specialists were part of the raid team---springing into action after the compound was secured. The team had to rapidly preserve everything, freezing everything on computers so that it didn't get wiped out. The recovery specialists had to be particularly careful before they unplugged the computers not to trigger software programs designed to destroy hard drives or delete data that may have been installed by bin Laden's people as protection.

"The trick was to get it out fast but to preserve everything, a source said, "for intelligence purposes first but also for evidence for possible prosecutions,'' of terrorists.

Sources say it could take weeks or months to get a handle on what the U.S. has and what the value of it is.


Statement from the NGA Director on the death of Osama bin Ladin - May 2, 2011

We at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are honored to be public servants during this singularly profound moment in our nation’s history – delivering Osama bin Ladin to his just end. 

NGA applied a range of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) capabilities including imagery, geospatial and targeting analysis, along with image sciences and modeling that, supplemented with work from the CIA and NSA, allowed the United States to carry out this operation, making bin Ladin pay for the crimes that he committed and the hatred he inflamed within al-Qa’ida.

The employees of NGA have worked behind the scenes for more than a decade – committed to finding bin Ladin – providing crucial geospatial intelligence for our war fighters and nation’s decision makers. 

I am extremely proud of the work that NGA men and women have done that led directly to this outcome. Their GEOINT was critical to helping the intelligence community pinpoint bin Ladin’s compound.

We still have work to do. To our partners in the fight, we will continue to provide our geospatial intelligence for the nation’s most pressing security threats. To the American people, know that we will never stop looking for actors who seek to harm our people and our way of life. In the days that follow, we need to prepare for a possible response from our enemies. We must remain vigilant – knowing that this victory, while monumental, is but one among many that must be made in the fight that we will continue to wage against radical extremists. 

Letitia A. Long   (NGA)

Pentagon & CIA Video Release 7/5/11 Osama Bin Laden in His Hiding Place Abbottabad Pakistan
DailyMotion Pentagon & CIA Video Release 7/5/11 Osama Bin Laden in His Hiding Place Abbottabad Pakistan      &     Altenative Youtube
US National Security Information Operations: Obama’s Bin Laden Kill Sets Precedent

by John Stanton

According to the Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare, September 2008, “Information is a strategic resource vital to national security. Dominance of the information environment is a reality that extends to the armed forces of the United States at all levels. Military operations, in particular, are dependent upon many simultaneous and integrated activities that, in turn, depend upon information and information systems, which the United States must protect…With the free flow of information present in all theaters, such as TV, phone, and Internet, conflicting messages can quickly emerge to defeat the intended effects. As a result, continuous synchronization and coordination between Information Operations, Public Affairs, Public Diplomacy, and U.S. allies is imperative. It also helps to ensure that information themes employed during operations involving neutral or friendly populations remain consistent.”
In short, the media in all its forms—mass, blog, social, print, electronic, spoken word—is a physical element to be accounted for in national security operations just like the weather or inhospitable geographic terrain. And that means citizen consumers of information are absorbing content from providers who are accounted for and manipulated by national security commanders (civilian and military) in planning and executing operations. 
Shaping the information environment means targeting the media not with violence but with logrolling techniques, trial balloons, trades/leaks, etc. The main stream media (MSM) is the focus of these efforts as the population/culture largely looks to the MSM for guidance on how to dress, think, travel, eat, listen, watch and speak. The Combatant Commands and the US Department of Defense News Services assist in shaping the consciousness of the nation as well. 

I Shot Bin Laden, But I Didn’t Shoot the Deputy 

The National Security Operation approved by US President Barak Obama that ended Osama Bin Laden’s was a gem in terms of Military Information Support Operations (though it should be renamed National Security Information Operations). Planning included meeting with editors of US publications like The New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. CNN and FOX, and select allies, were likely briefed as well.  These outlets transmit the voices and thoughts of those who take the country to war, set economic policy, and decide whether a Broadway play succeeds or fails.Even though the original version of the Bin Laden story continues to crumble/change, it was wildly successful in stimulating US nationalism through the media’s constant repetition of the matter.  Even Hezbollah’s website Al Manar carried wires stories from AP on Bin Laden’s ignominious demise. But it is far too early for anyone to speculate what the fallout will be from the targeted killing of Bin Laden and the use of the media to exploit his death and humiliate Pakistan. Kristen Eichensehr’s  Assassination Policy Under International Law--in the May 2006 issue of Harvard International Review--  cautions against the celebratory madness seen in the USA after Bin Laden’s death. It reminds that retribution against US leaders should not be unexpected.“Publicized US employment of targeted killings in the war on terror made a return to the previous era of credible moral superiority in rhetoric impossible. The preferable alternative to targeted killing of enemies should always be arrest and trial, but in cases where those alternative measures are not available, targeted killing may be the next best alternative. However, careful calculation of the risks and benefits of employing the policy must be weighed before it is implemented. The threat of reciprocity and repercussions for society are serious considerations that are often not given enough weight, and the policy should be re-examined continually to evaluate its effectiveness in decreasing the threat to the employing state's citizens. In some instances, targeted killings are both legal and effective, but for societies founded on principles of human rights, they should never be the first choice.”Higher on the list of tasks for the Navy Seals, than terminating Bin Laden, was to gather information/intelligence from Bin Laden’s hideout that would allow further exploitation and shaping of the domestic and global information terrain; and, hence, public consciousness on matters of national security. Indeed, much appears to have been collected by the pickers on the Navy Seal Teams (designated shooters and pickers of information) in the form of hard drives and other electronic/print media.This has provided the National Security System, led by President Obama, to “do a Wikileaks.” Over the coming months (and years?) bits and bytes of Bin Laden’s operation will be given to, or leaked to, favored media outlets. The Hollywood liaison offices at the Pentagon and elsewhere will be busy working with script writers for the Bin Laden story to further shape the information environment via the movie screen.

Cry Havoc! Let Loose the Electrons and Photons of War 

Like their US counterparts in the national security machinery, The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has similar views on the importance of media exploitation. They are savvy too.

“Wars today cannot be won without media. Media is directed to the heart rather than the body. The weapon is directed to the body. If the heart is defeated the battle is won and the body is defeated. In the beginning, with the fall of the Islamic Emirate, the enemy thought that the field was completely open before them, and they spread their lies and falsehoods that they had destroyed the Islamic Emirate and its Mujahideen and that their victory in the land of Afghanistan was complete. All of their resources, especially their media were directed towards changing the ideas of Afghans and injecting defeatist thought into them and instilling in them a petrifying fear of the new occupiers. First through the grace of Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, then through the victories of the Mujahideen and their rightly guided leadership; and after defeats were inflicted on the enemy on the field of battle, a media committee was established to contest with the enemy in the (media) field.Among other committees, the Islamic Emirates established a special Media Committee to spread news about  Jihadist activities in different fields and chase away the voice of the unjust enemy who, before the entire world, was distorting the image of the Jihad in Afghanistan and was claiming false victories here and there over the Mujahideen. Need called for the existence of a media agency to take responsibility for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan; speaking on behalf of the Islamic Emirate; delivering news of its victories on the battlefield to its friends and to the world; exposing the falsehood of its enemies and their media; responding to the claims and its daily changing deceptions; and delivering to the world the voice of truth and jihad and its point of view about current Jihadist events in the land of Afghanistan.Our  website specializes in conveying field reports from the combat zones and publishing the statements of the Ameer ul-Momineen and the statements of the Command Shura Council about different issues pertaining to Jihad, in addition to articles and official analysis. They have many sections: for example there’s an Islam page, a magazines page, and a page for films produced by official studios. We also print magazines and statements and distribute them in popular circles at home and abroad. Additionally, we produce different publications and regulations and distribute them among the Mujahideen. There is also a “Voice of Shari’ah” that broadcasts news and official statements day and night.”

Civil and Military Become One, Media a Tool

It now seems ridiculous to use the term “military operations” since the lines differentiating civilian and military practice have long since ceased to exist. The only notable difference between civilian and the military is in the clothing; one sports a Brooks Brothers business suit, the other military gear adorned with awards. At any rate, President Barak Obama implied as much in his National Security Strategy of the USA. As a matter of policy,  America has gone “beyond traditional distinctions” indicating that America’s homeland defense, commercial activities and military operations have all fused together to defeat terrorists, drug lords, the black market, et al. The moniker selected for this is “Whole of Government, Whole of Nation” effort which the world will hear more of in the coming months and years. 
Better now to think of the USA as a National Security System. National Security Operations are conducted on either the strategic or tactical level using any one or all of the USA’s instruments of national power as excellently defined by the US Army’s Unconventional Warfare manual cited above. Those elements of power are diplomatic, information, military, economic, intelligence, law enforcement, and financial. So, where to turn to for the news? How to differentiate between news content of Al Manar (Hezbollah) and the New York Times? How to know whether the Washington Post or Press TV (Iran) has the right angle on the story? The “bad guys” at those publications are carrying items off the AP, Reuters’ wires. They report on floods in the US Midwest like their US counterparts. Al Manar is a huge fan of NBA basketball and LeBron James. And what to make of the reporting style of Xinhua (China) or the Daily Star (Lebanon)?

The US Army Special Forces document cited above outlines the dangers of a centralized media. The hazards are real, the battlefield is everywhere now, and the mind, or heart, is the target. 

Conspiracy Theorists: Take a Hike!

Understanding the operation of the National Security System is not hard if one is an educated information consumer, a student of the information terrain cognizant of the doctrines used by those who manipulate and attempt to shape individual and collective thought. Marketers selling soda and beer use techniques that are similar. Before forming opinions based on information provided by the media be it Fox News, Press TV, Al Manar, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post, beware the hazards of National Security Operations.Hazards of centralized mass media include the following: 1.) A disproportion of power occurs and disproportionate informational power accrues to those who control centralized mass media; arguably, it is inherently undemocratic.  2.) An inability to transmit tacit knowledge; the context of content presented must either be explicitly explained or is assumed to be understood by the receiver. 3.) An inclination to focus on the unusual and sensational to capture the receivers’ attention, leading to a distortion and trivialization of reality. 4.) The deliberate promotion of emotions such as anxiety, fear, or greed can be used to sell a particular agenda. 5.) An inability to deal with complex issues because of time and economic constraints leads to simplification, further distorting and trivializing reality.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters. Reach him at cioran123@yahoo.com.

Bin Laden's 'treasure trove' of data could be tough to crack

Encryption could make it unreadable, but SEALs were prepared, experts say

As investigators examine what U.S. official have called a treasure trove of data retrieved from Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, security experts are speculating about whether some of the data will be unreadable.

During the May 1 raid in which bin Laden was killed, Navy SEALs carried off five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 portable storage devices, such as DVDs and flash drives, along with paper documents, according to a number of reports.

The devices likely contain a lot of information, since bin Laden’s compound was not connected to the Internet and those USB thumb drives and DVDs contained his communications. But officials haven’t said whether, or how well, the electronics devices were encrypted.

Investigators quickly found evidence that al Qaeda had considered — but apparently not followed up on — a rail attack on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a report by Reuters, although they didn’t specify where that information was stored. If could have been on paper or on an unencrypted device.

If the information on some of the hard drives and storage devices was encrypted well, it might never be retrieved, reported Security News Daily.

"Correctly implemented encryption is very difficult to break," Steve Santorelli of security research group Team Cymru, told SecurityNewsDaily. He described breaking it as a “huge, huge challenge.”

But retrieving data was likely a key part of the operation, which could increase the likelihood that data could be read, Greg Hoglund, CEO of HBGary, told InformationWeek

Hogland said the military uses a technique called battlefield exploitation to extract data in the field. A part of the process is to try to extract data while a computer or drive is running, which makes it easier, according to the InformationWeek article. Even an encrypted drive can be accessed if it’s running, he said.


Digital Intelligence & Evidence  With Osama Bin Laden in His Hiding Place Abbottabad Pakistan
What was on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?

Investigators pore over a 'mother lode' of data on hard drives, flash drives and other devices

The assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan uncovered what one U.S. official called “the mother lode of intelligence,” in the form of hard drives, thumb drives and paper records.

During the raid, Navy SEALs collected five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 portable storage devices, such as DVDs and flash drives, along with paper documents, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

“They cleaned it out,” one official told Politico. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?

Hundreds of investigators were poring over the data in Afghanistan to see what was usable. “It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” an official told Politico.

One question could have to do with how current the information is. Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, where Navy SEALs killed him in the May 1 raid, was not connected to the Internet and did not have phone lines.

Investigators also might have to deal with trying to crack encryption on the files. Although there has been no word on whether bin Laden’s files were encrypted, terrorist groups reportedly have developed encryption software, according to ThreatPost.


Israeli Official Facebook Sites Hacked  - Friday 6/5/11 (Israel Rail/LeumiBank/Israel Lottery)
Bin Laden could run but ultimately not hide from technology

Although the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed happened suddenly and dramatically, it followed years of mundane analysis, sifting through mountains of data and tracking down even the tiniest lead. 

That he was able to remain hidden for so long from the concentrated efforts of the most powerful nation in the world shows the limits of technology if someone is willing to live off the grid

By most accounts, bin Laden didn’t leave the compound he was found inside for more than six years, and he maintained a low technology profile. In fact, one major clue that he was there at all was the lack of Internet and phone service running into his multimillion-dollar fortress. Presumably someone who could afford such a place could afford basic Internet service.

Bin Laden likely figured that if an Internet connection was present inside his compound, the CIA would tap in and monitor that traffic. No amount of scrambling or passwords could have stopped us. In any war that involves technology, the United States carries the biggest stick. So instead, the terrorist-in-chief chose not to fight on our terms, which made him suspicious in the long run. 

In a way, he might have done a better job of camouflaging his presence if he had set up Internet access. Perhaps he could have built a Facebook page centered on Pakistani marriage traditions, or a bird-watching society, or almost anything that could act as a honey pot network to throw off those who eventually would be watching.

There was some technology inside the compound, but nothing we could snoop on. Looking at the newly released home movies of bin Laden watching himself on TV, I’m struck by the fact my college dorm room had a better AV setup, and it was pretty crappy. Flash drives and computers were found inside the compound, but any data was apparently transported outside via sneaker net, sending couriers to deliver plans and messages to the world. It may seem like an odd mix of low- and high-tech, but it kept us in the dark for a long time.

I was shocked to learn that President Barack Obama was only "about 55 percent sure" that bin Laden was inside the compound before the raid. In fact, the president said in a recent interview that there was a possibility that some eccentric millionaire prince from Dubai would be found instead. That, of course, would have caused a lot of trouble for us internationally, conducting a military operation on foreign soil and not getting our man. But with our technology taken out of the picture, there was just no way to be sure.

Once the man who we thought was bin Laden was killed, we could again bring our technology to bear to make sure we hadn’t slain a look-alike or some unfortunate person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although DNA matching gave the perfect match in time, the on-the-spot technology used was actually facial recognition.

Biometrics is a science that has really come into its own in recent years. Computers can tell fairly easily if the photo you take of someone is the same as a photo lifted from an online site, a TV news broadcast or even a photo of the same person from years ago. 

Want to see it in action? Check out this amazing demo provided by Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition. Just point the demo at two photographs sitting anywhere online, and the software will tell you whether they are the same person. I tested this with old photos of myself versus a recent one where I was in a Halloween costume and makeup, and the software wasn’t fooled. Something like this gave the Navy SEALs the ability to confirm they had gotten the right guy. 

Bin Laden stayed out of technology’s spotlight and off the grid, and it helped him survive for many years on the run. Had he ceased all his terrorist activities, we might never have found him. But eventually tiny cracks in his façade came to light through his continuing activities, and nameless analysts following leads found his compound tucked away deep inside a nation that was supposed to be helping us look for him.

In the end, if bin Laden wouldn't come to the technology grid, U.S. forces had little choice but to bring the grid back to him. 


 Bin Laden Killing Animation Versions
DailyMotion Bin Laden Killing Animation Versions
Osama bin Laden's technologies uncovered

Officials sift through fugitive's technological belongings 

Shortly after the government decided not to show a photo of Osama bin Laden dead, five videos found in the Pakistani compound were released to the public. These films are just a glint of the hundreds of technological treasures discovered by U.S.forces. Now  the question is what will be done with the rest of the findings from the hideout?

American intelligence wants to know who bin Laden was talking to, what he was reading or watching, what he was thinking and what he didn't want us to know, reports Michael Tanji of Wired.com’s Danger Room.

Another important element is to determine how technologically sophisticated bin Laden's team is based on software and file formats such as extensions from engineering or computer-aided design and manufacturing programs, the article states.

One of the released videos shows bin Laden looking cold and feeble and watching himself on television. “This is someone who realized that the image he conveyed was the main value he had to his movement,” former CIA analyst Paul Pillar told ABCnews.com

However, not all the technology may be so easy to decipher. 

Analysts now have the task of unencrypting the information collected. One U.S.official called the technology seized from bin Laden’s fortress “the mother lode of intelligence,” writes Kevin McCaney on Government Computer News.

Officials haven’t said whether, or how well, the electronic devices were encrypted, reports GCN.

The exact amount of technology confiscated is not known. The United Kingdom's Daily Mail reports the treasures include 10 computers, 10 cell phones and 100 memory sticks. But the Wall Street Journal reports that there were five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 portable storage devices such as DVDs and flash drives collected. Paper documents were also taken.

Officials hope that the information gathered from the compound will offer clues to how to hit other al Qaeda members. It is believed that those involved in previous terrorist attacks and details about future plans could be uncovered by sifting through bin Laden's tech, the Daily Mail states.


CIA Site : Security Forces Arrest 40 in Abbottabad  - Friday 6/5/11 
CIA to search bin Laden compound

Pakistan has agreed to allow the CIA to send a forensics team to examine the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed, giving the agency permission to use sophisticated equipment in a search for al-Qaeda materials that may have been hidden inside walls or buried at the site, U.S. officials said.The arrangement would allow the CIA for the first time to enter a complex that it had previously scrutinized only from a distance, using satellites, stealth drones and spies operating from a nearby safe house that was shuttered when bin Laden was killed.U.S. officials said that a CIA team is expected to arrive at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, within days and that the objective is to scrub the site for items that were not recovered by American commandos during the raid early this month or by Pakistani security forces who secured the facility afterward.“The assault team was there for only 40 minutes,” a U.S. official said. The aim is to return to the site “to do another, more thorough look.” The official, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.CIA Deputy Director Michael J. Morell negotiated access to the Abbottabad site during a trip to Islamabad last week, when he met with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan’s main intelligence service, officials said.
Pakistan’s agreement is considered an encouraging sign that the two spy services will continue cooperating despite anger in Islamabad about the American operation to kill bin Laden and a series of recent ruptures between the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart.
Pakistan has also agreed to allow the CIA to examine materials that Pakistan’s security forces hauled away from the compound in the days after the raid, officials said. In turn, the CIA has asked Pakistan’s spy agency, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), for assistance in analyzing some of the records that were seized and brought to a CIA document exploitation facility in Northern Virginia.In particular, U.S. officials said the CIA is seeking help with deciphering references to names of people and places. The agency has turned to the ISI for help identifying and locating people who were seen entering and leaving the compound during the months it was under near-constant American surveillance. U.S. intelligence officials have described the materials from the bin Laden compound as the largest intelligence haul ever recovered relating to a terrorist network. The materials include dozens of computer storage devices as well as thousands of pages of documents.Even so, U.S. officials said they want to be sure that other material has not been overlooked. The CIA plans involve the use of infrared cameras, X-ray equipment and other devices capable of identifying items embedded behind walls, inside safes or under floors.Pakistan agreed in part because it does not have comparable equipment, officials said, and was convinced that more intrusive search methods — such as breaking through portions of the structure — might risk destroying any items hidden inside.U.S. intelligence officials have said they think that bin Laden became remarkably complacent during the years he spent in hiding at the compound and appeared to have no plan to escape or destroy sensitive materials as commandos made their way toward his upstairs room.Still, CIA veterans said that an exhaustive search was warranted, given bin Laden’s importance to al-Qaeda and the risk of overlooking even minute clues to the whereabouts of other senior leaders in the network.“Even if he got very complacent, you would think he still would have had some sort of hiding area or safe, like [most people do] at home,” said a former senior CIA official who had been involved in the pursuit of bin Laden. “You wouldn’t do it for every run-of-the-mill high-value target, but you would do it for him.”In addition to searching the compound for a vault, CIA experts are likely to collect swab samples of surfaces in bin Laden’s living area to look for clues. DNA material could show whether Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second in command, or other senior figures visited bin Laden. Clothing samples sent to U.S. labs could determine whether bin Laden came into contact with chemical or biological agents that he directed al-Qaeda to pursue. Even a substance as innocuous as pollen could provide information about where bin Laden or visitors had traveled in Pakistan, the former CIA official said.The agency also has equipment that could be used to recover information that has been burned or otherwise damaged. U.S. officials have said that residents burned their trash inside the compound’s walls.The CIA deployed similar forensics teams to Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The agency’s experts are part of its Directorate of Science and Technology, although the CIA frequently turns to other agencies, including the FBI and the Energy Department, for some technical capabilities.U.S. officials said they have seen no evidence that there were tunnels beneath the compound. One official said the CIA concluded before the raid that any underground escape routes for bin Laden were unlikely to exist because a high water table in Abbottabad probably would submerge passageways under the compound walls.The CIA has been given access to three of bin Laden’s wives who were taken into custody by Pakistan after the raid. But officials said none of them has cooperated with U.S. interrogators or provided meaningful intelligence.The agreement on the compound followed what U.S. officials described as a frank and productive discussion between the ISI director and Morell, who is in line to serve as interim director of the CIA if Leon Panetta is confirmed as defense secretary.Morell’s trip was also aimed at repairing a relationship that has appeared on the verge of collapse in recent months. Recent ruptures include Pakistan’s arrest of a CIA contractor who fatally shot two Pakistani men in Lahore, as well as U.S. suspicions that the ISI deliberately exposed the identities of two undercover CIA operatives in the past six months.Pakistani news accounts suggested that Pasha used his meeting with Morell to reiterate demands that include a dramatic reduction in the number of drone strikes.The U.S. official declined to comment on the matter but said that despite signs of progress — such as Pakistan’s decision to return the U.S. helicopter damaged in the raid — the two spy agencies are proceeding warily. Agreeing to grant the CIA access to the compound “is another good sign,” the U.S. official said. “But there’s still some issues to sort out.” Correspondent Karin Brulliard in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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