The film focuses on the agency’s successful hunt for bin Laden, which you might look at as an example of good dot-connecting. But really, we don’t know how much we don’t know. At one point, though, the C.I.A.’s senior al Qaeda targeting analyst in Iraq, Nada Bakos, provides new information about how the CIA figured out that bin Laden had a single, favored courier, a nugget that, in retrospect, was critical to the chain of intelligence that ended in Abbottabad.
Some backstory: In 2004, bin Laden was very worried that al Qaeda was losing momentum in Iraq because Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi the self-appointed leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was bombing Muslims indiscriminately. Bin Laden sends a letter that the CIA later gets its hand on; it implores Zarqawi to stop killing Muslims. Zarqawi ignores the letter. Bin Laden gets upset. The CIA figures out that bin Laden is about to send an envoy to Iraq to personally supervise al Qaeda there. His name is Hassan Ghul.
Ghul will travel through Kurdish territory to get into Iraq. The CIA enlists the help of the Kurdish government to capture him. The CIA asks permission to use harsh interrogation techniques against him. The Kurds pick Ghul up and debrief him. In the debriefing, he reveals that bin Laden uses a single courier with the nomme de guerre “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti ” THEN the CIA gets its chance to interrogate Ghul. What happens then is still classified. But those who have followed the bin Laden case for a while have always assumed that BECAUSE the CIA did interrogate Ghul, the information about the courier — the man who sent instructions about Iraq to him — came about during the CIA part of the interrogation. Bakos, who was in a position to know, has been able to get the CIA to declassify the fact the Ghul information came out BEFORE the CIA got to him. Before.