Certainly no special operation in the recent past has been as celebrated as the daring nighttime raid conducted by Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and the man most responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In spite of efforts by the Bush administration to downplay the significance of bin Laden as just a single individual, behind the scenes the effort to find him never flagged.

The most important piece of intelligence was arguably acquired way back in 2002, when the man known as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was first mentioned to interrogators as one of bin Laden’s most trusted couriers; this information was confirmed in 2004 by a prisoner named Hassan Ghul, who noted that al-Kuwaiti had not been spotted for some time, a fact that further suggested to intelligence experts that he might be hidden with bin Laden somewhere. This theory was supported by the fact that al-Kuwaiti’s significance was subsequently denied by two high-profile prisoners, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi, who were captured in 2003 and 2005, respectively, both likely to lie to protect bin Laden.

A wiretap of a different suspect enabled CIA operatives to locate al-Kuwaiti in August 2010 and then to follow him to the compound in Abbottabad, some 100 miles east of the Afghanistan border in Pakistan, just 20 miles from the border with India.

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