Oh my: Did Bin Laden's wife rat him out to the U.S.?

A few days old but still too fun not to blog. Everything I know tells me it can’t possibly be true: His wife had likely been conditioned to be completely obedient to him; even if she overcame that, she would have known she was risking her life by trying to betray him; and since she was confined to the upper floors of the house, she had virtually no way of contacting outsiders even if she wanted to. None of it makes sense — especially the idea that, after 10 years of living with him in hiding, something could have made her angry enough to drop a dime on him.


But then I think: What if she found the stash?

An in-depth pocket guide to Osama Bin Laden’s hideout that was used by U.S. Navy Seals suggests a mole was living alongside the terror leader, it emerged today.

The colour guide was dropped by one of the special forces soldiers when they raided the home in Abottabad, northwestern Pakistan on May 1.

It features an unseen picture of Bin Laden’s Yemeni wife, Amal, and two of his son, Khalid, alongside detailed descriptions…

‘In my experience of years as an intelligence office, I think someone from the inside may have given information,’ Rahman Malik, the interior minister and former head of Pakistan’s Federal Information agency told the Sunday Times…

[D]etailed information about Bin Laden’s clothes would have been difficult to collect from satellites images as he lived behind high walls.

Following the raid, Bin Laden’s two elder wives have accused Amal of betraying the terror leader by leaking information.

The two Saudi women also suggest that she may have been tracked by U.S. forces to Abbottabad.

Tracked when? She was locked in the house for six years, apparently. And since she was the youngest wife and was sharing a bedroom with him when the SEALs finally came knocking, the enmity from the other wives is easily enough explained. Also, she’s the one who supposedly rushed the SEALs when they entered the room — an illogical move for a would-be mole given the extreme risk that one of them would shoot her before she was recognized. Still, though — I’m intrigued by that color guide that was found on the scene. Follow the link up top and read the Daily Mail piece in full to see just how detailed it was, right down to what Bin Laden himself would likely be wearing. The CIA had a safe house in the city and stealth drones overhead, so they did have ways to gather detailed intel on him that didn’t necessarily require a mole. But detailed enough that the SEALs were reportedly able to build a full-scale model of the compound at Bagram and practice the raid for weeks before it happened? How’d they manage to do that unless there was someone on the inside helping them out?


Two possibilities. It could be that U.S. spy tech is now so awesomely awesome that the CIA can see into buildings from the outside — not just heat signatures, either, but the floor plan, furniture, the works. If you missed it a few weeks ago, read Marc Ambinder’s piece at National Journal about the role played in Bin Laden’s killing by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. They were the ones, apparently, who did most of the detective work in identifying sites where Bin Laden might be hiding, and then after the building was found, they “creat[ed] three-dimensional renderings of the Abbottabad compound using imagery and laser-based sensing devices—laser radar, or ladar.” More:

Professional defense and aviation journals suggest that the NGA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Air Force have developed sensors that can penetrate foliage on the ground and peek deep under water and even into the ground. Officials wouldn’t comment.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, ran the NGA during the first part of George W. Bush’s administration. Although the agency is best known for its maps, he shifted its focus toward real-time, dynamic, three-dimensional support using all parts of the spectrum.

When Clapper said in a statement after the bin Laden raid that the intelligence integration he observed in the operation was “the best” he’s seen in 50 years of intelligence service, part of his pride came from the knowledge that his former agency was a significant contributor to the mission’s success.


Who needs moles when you’ve got tech like that? Which brings us to the other possibility: If you believe that people in Pakistani intelligence knew where Bin Laden was — and given their track record, there’s every reason to believe it — then it’s no great leap to think that one of them might have sold him out. In fact, given the recent arrest of Bin Laden’s and Zawahiri’s courier and the rumors about Mullah Omar being killed, I wonder if someone who’s in the know isn’t ratting a whole bunch of people out. There are other possible explanations, of course: We might have found intel in Bin Laden’s computers that led to Omar and the courier, or maybe Pakistan panicked after the Bin Laden raid and started cleaning up some of its jihadi mess before we embarrassed them by identifying other top terrorists living deep inside the country. But … yeah, maybe there’s a snitch somewhere. How well do you think Zawahiri is sleeping these days?

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