Would you care for some whipped cream and sprinkles on your sundae?
The assault force of Navy SEALs snatched a trove of computer drives and disks during their weekend raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, yielding what a U.S. official called “the mother lode of intelligence.”
The special operations forces grabbed personal computers, thumb drives and electronic equipment during the lightning raid that killed bin Laden, officials told POLITICO…
“Hundreds of people are going through it now,” an official said, adding that intelligence operatives back in Washington are very excited to find out what they have.
“It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” the official said.
Follow the link for tantalizing details about how the SEALs encountered Bin Laden in the compound and their reaction when they were told what the mission was. Who’s next on the hit list once we’re done analyzing the data? You guessed it:
Does bin Laden’s demise mean the death of al-Qaeda? CIA analysts won’t go that far. But they have concluded that the operation “will accelerate its demise,” and that the battered organization is now at a “tipping point” that could lead to collapse.
The hidden trophy of Sunday’s raid: The JSOC team captured intelligence materials from the compound that might reveal the location of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the organization’s new commander. “That’s where we’re going next,” says one U.S. official involved in planning the operation.
So at last, after fully a decade of wondering, we’ll have an answer to the question I asked in this post: Did Bin Laden have an actual job with Al Qaeda anymore or was he basically just being cc’d on messages and offering “spiritual encouragement”? Stories have popped up on the wires from time to time alleging that he’s still giving battlefield orders. Some that we’ve blogged were murky yet spectacular, like this one from Newsweek in 2007 alleging a power struggle between OBL and Zawahiri. More recently, in the fall of last year, U.S. officials claimed that Bin Laden had dispatched his couriers with instructions for a Mumbai-style attack in Europe or America. That report emerged in October — which we now know was after U.S. intelligence had already zeroed in on him in his Abbottabad compound. Wouldn’t surprise me if the hard drives confirm their suspicions.