May 08, 2011
Massive intel haul from OBL compound largest ever
The amount of intelligence gleaned from OBL’s hideout is the size of “a small college library” according to one account.
This is both good and bad. The good is, of course, the more we know about AQ’s plans and operations, the better we can counter them. But the bad news is that organizing and filing all of this information is going to take some time. In fact, it is unlikely that we’ll know exactly what we have until we’ve gone through a considerable part of the haul.
“The size is quite notable. It’s the largest cache of intelligence information from a senior terrorist that we know of,” he said.Though he would not say whether it’s yielded any hard leads, Donilon and others said the evidence challenges the notion that bin Laden was a mere figurehead before he was killed last week.
“Usama bin Laden was not just a symbolic leader of Al Qaeda. In fact, he had operational and strategic roles that he was playing,” he said.
The information suggests bin Laden played a strong role in planning and directing attacks by Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. And he was apparently determined to strike the United States again.
“This collection represents the most significant amount of intelligence ever collected from a senior terrorist,” another senior intelligence official said. “The materials reviewed over the past several days clearly show that bin Laden remained an active leader in Al Qaeda, providing strategic, operational and tactical instructions to the group. Though separated from many Al Qaeda members who are located in more remote areas of the region, he was far from a figurehead. He was an active player making the recent operation even more essential for our nation’s security.”
The official said the records show he directed tactical details and encouraged plotting from the compound.
Operational intel will be the most valuable and it appears we may have hit the jackpot. Two questions present themselves immediately; how did Osama communicate with his far flung organization, and which plots are the closest to fruition.
If we can penetrate his communications network with any degree of coverage, it will set AQ back many months as they are forced to develop new networks. And penetrating actual terrorist plots and arresting operatives is the holy grail.
We probably won’t hear much about our counterterrorism efforts as we act upon this intel. But any way you look at it, the intel coup carried out by the SEALs is going to keep our intelligence agencies busy for many months.