U.S. intelligence: We’ve infiltrated Al Qaeda

posted at 5:25 pm on September 30, 2009 by Allahpundit

Imagine the odds of a scoop like this appearing in WaPo smack dab in the middle of the White House’s debate over whether to pursue counterinsurgency in Afghanistan or counterterrorism in Pakistan. Who, oh who, could be responsible?

Those within the administration who have suggested limiting large-scale U.S. ground combat in Afghanistan, including Vice President Biden, have pointed to an improved counterterrorism effort as evidence that Obama’s principal objective — destroying al-Qaeda — can be achieved without an expanded troop presence.

The most important new weapon in the Western arsenal is said to be the recruitment of spies inside al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations, a long-sought objective. “Human sources have begun to produce results,” Richard Barrett, head of the United Nations’ al-Qaeda and Taliban monitoring group, said Tuesday. Barrett is the former chief of Britain’s overseas counterterrorism operations.

Current and former senior U.S. officials, who spoke about intelligence matters on the condition of anonymity, confirmed what one former CIA official called “our penetration of al-Qaeda.” A senior administration official said that success had come “because of, first of all, very good intelligence capabilities . . . to locate and identify individuals who are part of the al-Qaeda organization.”

The real scoop here is that this isn’t a scoop. If you follow the news about U.S. airstrikes in Pakistan even casually, as we do at HA, you know that something unusual’s been going on over the past 18 months. Check out the graph Bill Roggio put together over the summer, then scroll down and examine the dates on which most of the big jihadi fish were caught. Virtually all of them are from January 2008 or later, and Roggio’s list doesn’t even include now-liquidated Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was iced in August. Part of this can be explained by a command decision to simply use drones more often — the more bullets you fire, the more targets you’re likely to hit — but the U.S. isn’t in the habit of firing haphazardly in Pakistan given the concerns about a popular backlash, which can only mean that something dramatic has changed on the ground in terms of intelligence. In fact, here’s something I wrote all the way back in February:

The pace is remarkably consistent: Every two months or so for fully a year now, one of the AQ illuminati has gotten a ticket to meet Allah. Something profound’s happened to our intel capabilities over there but I can only marvel at what it might be. More informants, sure, but how many and how close are they to the top? The more big fish we kill, the more paranoid AQ must be, yet somehow they still haven’t caught whoever it is that’s ratting them out. A French analyst told the LA Times as far back as last May that he suspected the U.S. is using better technology too, a point the NPR story supports in touting the advantages of the new Reaper drones over Predators. And yet … it seems like there’s something bigger going on.

I guess now we know what that “something bigger” is. Given all the above, I have no objection to intel agents leaking to WaPo that we have spies in place — surely AQ has figured that out by now — and frankly, I wish they’d do more of it as psyops to sow paranoia among the jihadist elite about turncoats in their midst. There are, reportedly, rifts inside Al Qaeda that a shrewd strategist could exploit. (Imagine if the U.S. decided to target a single faction inside the group for, say, six months; that faction would inevitably suspect that the other faction was ratting them out and the odds of an AQ civil war would skyrocket.) Let’s start exploitin’.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


AllahP, while I agree taht we’ll be seeing more of this pushback against the DOD effort to force Obama’s hand on the troop request, I think they’ve gone too far…

In my humble opinion this is very much the along the lines of Jimmy Carter’s ham handed admission of the “have blue” stealth program during a speech all in order to bolster his defense cred…

I think the nation might have been better served if this had remainded a secret, but had been exploited in the manner that you suggested at the end of this essay…

Now, I have an exit question: Do you think that congress will breathlessly call for investigations in the source of the leaks..?

RocketmanBob on September 30, 2009 at 9:58 PM

Blacklake on September 30, 2009 at 6:38 PM

You are dead on. I’m a Nam vet who operated with SEALS a couple times. A few years ago, a guy in my industry started telling everybody he was a SEAL in Nam, but things he said didn’t ring true. I left a message on a SEAL website about him, suggesting they check him out. The guy completely dropped out of sight, immediately.

Star20 on September 30, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Is it good form to announce one has cracked an organization and has people on the inside? I don’t remember Masad bragging, or UK advertising that it broke German codes. I guess this is more hope and change being exercised in the intelligence gathering arena, which is something that both B.O. and his dummy VEEP seem to be very lacking in.
Hening on September 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM

Were in a war, regardless of who the CIC is, putting out misinformation disinformation and the flat out lie are all part of the game.

Is the story true? I don’t know and neither do you, nor does AQ.

Could this story cause AQ to purge its ranks? Possible.
Could this story cause AQ to believe its false, when in fact its true? Possible.

Will this story cause angst among ALL AQ members? Yes

Is this story a deflection for some other means of gathering Intel?

One thing I am sure of, if after reading this story you ask yourself “why did I need to know this?”

“Does this story change anything for me?”

If no, then you can safely conclude the target of this story was not you.

So who would this story affect/effect? AQ


DSchoen on September 30, 2009 at 10:05 PM

This is worse than showing your cards in a poker game. The morons in this administration are putting people’s lives on the line, just to make themselves look better.


Star20 on September 30, 2009 at 10:36 PM

Don’t attribute this to anything but a USAF push to bring more recently retired UsaF pilots back into the service specifically to fly the drones. They recently pulled over 500 back in and that number’s going to increase.

Trust me, if we’d had the fliers last years the numbers of strikes would have been much higher

E9RET on September 30, 2009 at 11:17 PM

By now we should know every rock, goat and tree in that region on a first name basis. We have had 8 years to just sit there and watch.
If that region isn’t under 24×7×365 surveillance, then someone should be fired.
crosspatch on September 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM

Even quicker. Plant RFID like chips in things like weapons and ammo we seem to be missplcing all over the place, like Iraq.

Have the drones flying 7/24 boring grid patterns logging where all the RFID like chips are blinking.

We can log where and when the blinkings move, where the blinkings stop moving and are apparently having a party cuz there’s lots of em.

Then take all those logs from all those grid flights with all those blinkings make into an overlay, then put that overlay over a map.

I wonder if some sort of “picture” would emerge?

DSchoen on September 30, 2009 at 11:27 PM

U.S. intelligence: We’ve infiltrated Al Qaeda

So when we going to infiltrate DC?

chickasaw42 on September 30, 2009 at 11:32 PM

Gee, and I thought Adam Gadahn’s use of Qabbalistic cryptologic ciphers in his Al Qaeda videos was apparently a near-perfect method for transmitting the GPS coordinates of Al Qaeda bigwigs to U.S. intelligence, so I wonder if this WaPo article will heighten the suspicions of Omar or Osama toward “The American”?

profitsbeard on September 30, 2009 at 11:40 PM

Gee, and I thought Adam Gadahn’s use of Qabbalistic cryptologic ciphers in his Al Qaeda videos was apparently a near-perfect method for transmitting the GPS coordinates

Well you do know Goat Boy is Jewish, he’s most likely Mossad.

DSchoen on October 1, 2009 at 12:02 AM

U.S. intelligence: We’ve infiltrated Al Qaeda

If in fact you have successfully penetrated an organization it might not be the brightest strategy to inform your enemy of this fact. “Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah-you can’t hurt us because our spies inside your your organization know your every move” (signed) Joe Biden.

MaiDee on October 1, 2009 at 12:14 AM

Well this is bad news, now we’re going to have to prosecute those who infiltrated the group because they are breaking the law by passing themselves off as someone they aren’t…..

The WH will find someway of turning a good thing into a bad thing very very quickly.

Rbastid on October 1, 2009 at 12:17 AM

So when we going to infiltrate DC?

chickasaw42 on September 30, 2009 at 11:32 PM

It’s pretty bad when we are more afraid of Obama than Osama.

yoda on October 1, 2009 at 7:27 AM



BobAnthony on October 1, 2009 at 7:46 AM

This information is best if not released, those responsible should quietly be punished. The biggest threat related to this is Obama exploitation of it. AQ may very well also have high ranking agents and sleepers in the highest offices of our government.

Ed Laskie on October 1, 2009 at 7:47 AM

When it comes to intelligence, and spies etc… if we even have it, with this pres. and admin, I doubt it… but if we do have it, I’d rather not know about it.

4shoes on October 1, 2009 at 8:00 AM

If you have spy’s in the other guys organization, you shouldn’t talk about it.
If you don’t, then you should claim that you do, in order to make the other guy paranoid.

On the other hand, strickly following this rule will clue the other guy off. If you aren’t talking, he’s been infiltrated, if you are, he hasn’t.

So on occassion you have to talk about your spies, when you do have a few in place, and not talk about them when you don’t.


all of this spy, counter-spy stuff is giving me a headache.

End result, read what they put out. Don’t put a lot of faith in it, regardless of what it says.
Celebrate when a strike gets someone.

MarkTheGreat on October 1, 2009 at 9:20 AM

Ah. AllahPundit posts the “Osama and Evil Bert” picture. Reminds me of the good old days at his old web site. Now if you could just work in the phrase ‘makes Allah feel funny in the pants’ it’d be perfect.

Bobbertsan on October 1, 2009 at 9:30 AM

If our intel agencies had penetrated Al Qaeda with human agents, why would they ever admit that in public? Wouldn’t that give away the game? However, if they had penetrated Al Qaeda via technological means, giving the impression that there were traitors among the terror cells would be good psychological warfare. That would set the panicky terrorists against each other, hopefully killing each other. This is precisely what the Germans did to Stalin in the late 1930s, leading him to believe he was surrounded by traitors, which led him to purge his military commanders, severely weakening the Red Army right before the German invasion of Russia.

Bob Woodward wrote a year ago that US forces had developed technical means to track down insurgents in Iraq, a means which made the covert war on them wildly successful:


It speculates on what those technical means may be. Perhaps it’s some way to listen to voices from high altitude. Maybe it’s a way to uniquely identify individuals by biological means. Maybe they put a scent on them that can be tracked.

TJ Waters writes in “Class 11: My Story Inside the CIA’s First Post-9/11 Spy Class” that one demonstration of technical devices in his training was an artificial dragonfly that was developed to spy on things. That was decades old technology, he said. What would the new technology look like?

What if our intel agencies have developed small bird-like or insect-like devices to spy in remote areas? Maybe they could place refueling/recharging/transmission stations in the woods and have the devices fly unnoticed from there to where the bad guys are and transmit their images and audio back to the feeder station for retransmission to airborne platforms? Such devices could fly or crawl around at night unnoticed. Maybe they could leave bugs or sensors everywhere, perhaps disguised as ordinary objects. Back in Vietnam, the CIA left sensors on the Ho Chi Minh trail disguised as tiger scat.

Bugs left in meeting places could transmit low power signals to the nearby stations, which would retransmit them to overhead aircraft or satellites. These retransmission stations might be powered with nuclear power plants, just like sensors left on the moon during Apollo. At least one such disguised nuclear-powered sensor was discovered by a child in Afghanistan.

Tantor on October 1, 2009 at 9:45 AM

They’ll just root out every member that joined in the past couple of years and lop their heads off.
Dave Rywall on September 30, 2009 at 6:32 PM

psyops. seriously, must the adults explain these things to you?

bloviator on October 1, 2009 at 11:44 AM

psyops. seriously, must the adults explain these things to you?
bloviator on October 1, 2009 at 11:44 AM

psyops yes.

We know how the useful idiots reacted to these things during the Bush years.

DSchoen on October 1, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Once again, we are seeing nothing more than a USAF triumph of logistics. These targets have been known for a long time. The methods of identifying these targets have been productive for years but the number of pilots available to fly these drones has been limited. “Real” USAF pilots don’t much want to fly anything other than fast movin’ fire breathing aircraft.

To meet the demand for drone pilots the USAF recently enticed 500+ retired and former pilots to return to active duty to fly the drones; more will follow.

No SCI sensitive sources and methods have been compromised. After all these are military intelligence operations, which are harder to compromise than CIA and State Department intelligence. The difference? the military will hunt “leakers” down and put them in jail; I did just that for 24 years as a USAF counterintelligence investigator.

Some of them are still locked up after 15+ years; ya gotta love the UCMJ!!!

E9RET on October 1, 2009 at 4:16 PM