Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti: Bin Laden’s trusted courier
London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Noman Bin Osman, a former leader in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group [Al-Jamaal al-Islamiya al-Muqatilah bi Libya – LIFG], who is now a senior analyst of the London-based Quilliam Foundation think-tank, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the Al Qaeda courier who unwittingly led US intelligence to Bin Laden’s hideout, was a man of Pakistani descent born in Kuwait. Osman revealed that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was a trusted aide and confidant of a number of senior Al Qaeda leadership, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Farah al-Libi, and Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi. He also confirmed reports that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti and his brother were killed in the US attack on the Bin Laden residential compound in the affluent town of Abbottabad in Pakistan.
Libyan Islamist Noman Bin Osman also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was “transferring messages between Osama Bin Laden and senior Al Qaeda leadership located throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He added that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was present in Kandahar in late 2001 and took part in the battle against the invading US forces. Bin Osman revealed that US intelligence first acquired Bin Laden’s trust courier, al-Kuwaiti, after they intercepted a satellite phone-call in 2010 between him and a senior Al Qaeda member in Iraq in who was under surveillance.
The Quilliam analyst also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Bin Laden’s killing should be viewed as a victory by the US intelligence service in the information war. The US first became aware of the presence of a trusted courier in contact with Bin Laden in 2003 after studying tens of thousands of documents produced following investigations conducted at Guantanamo Bay. This courier was later revealed to be Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who Bin Osman described as being, “relied upon [by Osama Bin Laden] to transfer his views to Al Qaeda members and leaders.”
US diplomatic sources also confirmed that the “trusted courier” who inadvertently led the US to Osama Bin Laden, after being placed under surveillance for years, was a Kuwait known as “Abu Ahmed” who was believed to be in contact with Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Bin Osman also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US intelligence sought any and all information regarding the likely presence of Osama Bin Laden. He also revealed that the CIA believed that “pursuing the senior figures in Al Qaeda could lead to Bin Laden, and this is what led to them tracking the movements of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Farah al-Libi in the hopes of locating Bin Laden…but that after these two senior Al Qaeda figures had been arrested the US intelligence could not find any intelligence about Bin Laden’s whereabouts.
He added that following the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, the CIA began to entertain the idea that perhaps they could follow a “trusted courier” to Bin Laden, rather than senior Al Qaeda leaders. This belief was strengthened following the arrest of Al Qaeda operative Hassan Ghul in Iraq in 2004. Ghul admitted that a figure known as “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti” was in contact with Osama Bin Laden, and was one of the few people completely trusted by the Al Qaeda leader. Ghul also revealed that al-Kuwaiti had ties to Abu Farah al-Libi, although after al-Libi was arrested he completely denied knowing anybody named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. However US intelligence continued its efforts to find out just who Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was, until they were finally able to catch his scent, via the telephone call between al-Kuwaiti and “one of the persons wanted by the US intelligence in Iraq and whose movements and communication was being monitored by the US.”
Secret American military files from Guantanamo Bay, leaked by WikiLeaks, suggest that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti may have been a trusted Bin Laden aide as far back as 2001, when the Al Qaeda leader disappeared from the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan. The file for Guantanamo Bay detainee Muhammad Mani al-Qahtani, the so-called 9/11 “20th hijacker” contains a reference to the Al Qaeda courier. Al-Kuwaiti apparently provided al-Qahtani with computer training for the mission to attack the US in the summer of 2001. The file describes Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti as being “a senior Al Qaeda facilitator and subordinate of [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed]. Al-Kuwaiti worked in the Al Qaeda media house operated by [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] in Kandahar and served as a courier.” The file also says that “Al-Kuwaiti was seen in Tora Bora and it is possible al-Kuwaiti was one of the individuals [al-Qahtani] reported accompanying [Osama Bin Laden] in Tora Boar prior…to his disappearance.”
Bin Osman also told Asharq Al-Awsat that he believed that Al Qaeda is preparing a video obituarizing Osama Bin Laden, which will be issued by Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. He said that this video will most likely include an address to the Islamic world, and will be published in the next few days.
The former Libyan jihadist also said that the residential compound in Abbottabad had been built specifically for Osama Bin Laden, in light of the various security features built into the property, not least the double-security gate at the front of the property.
As for the rumors that Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence [ISI] was aware of Bin Laden’s location, Bin Osman told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we must differentiate between the [Pakistani] elected government and the military apparatus, for it was the latter which provided a safe haven for the Al Qaeda leader and other senior Al Qaeda members and Taliban figures who are present in the country’s cities.” He added that Pakistan is utilizing the “war against terror” card on issues that go beyond combating terrorism, including as leverage to ensure that the United States remains a “strategic ally.”