By looking at the 763 assessments of Guantanamo detainees, a fair amount of information can be gathered on the ‘courier’ whose location led the US to Osama bin Laden.
The man has been identified as Abu Ahmad alKuwaiti by American television network CNN.
In one file, he is described as a “senior al Qaeda facilitator and subordinate of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad. AlKuwaiti worked in the al Qaeda media house operated by Mohammad in Kandahar and served as a courier”.
He was believed to have been seen in Tora Bora and may have accompanied Bin Laden in the area. According to al Qaeda facilitator Hassan Ghul, Abu Ahmad alKuwaiti, Hamza alGhamdi and Abd alRahman alMaghrebi travelled with Bin Laden.
It is now being touted that the intelligence gleaned from Guantanamo Bay detainees led the US to Bin Laden. Ayub Murshid alSalih, a Yemeni detainee, was identified as someone who could provide information on a man called Abu Ahmad, described as an al Qaeda recruiter.
More definite links are found in other documents. Mohammad’s nephew Ammar alBalochi used alKuwaiti as a courier to transfer money. His assessment file states that in late May or early June 2002, he passed approximately $17,241 from Abu Ahmad to Mohammad via a man called Maqsood Khan. Using al Qaeda operatives to pass on money was common within the organisation.
Indonesian detainee Riduan Bin Isomuddin also stayed at a guesthouse operated by alKuwaiti. According to the leaked files, Isomuddin and his wife fled Malaysia after the 2000 Christmas Eve bombings in Indonesia. He, like hundreds of other al Qaeda operatives, travelled to Kandahar via Karachi and then came back the same way in November 2001. It is stated that he stayed at the “Abu Ahmad alKuwaiti guesthouse for two weeks”.
Saudi detainee Maad alQahtani, who was supposed to be the 20th hijacker in the 9/11 plot but failed to gain entry to the US, was prepared by alKuwaiti for travel to the US. AlQahtani received “computer training” at Abu Shem’s house in Karachi in July 2001. Mohammad asked al Kuwaiti to teach alQahtani how to use email, since “when someone went on a mission, he would need to know how to send messages and e-mail was safer than talking on the phone”.
However, alKuwaiti told Mohammad that alQahtani was not very skilled when it came to using e-mail and it would be difficult for him to understand computers or the internet, even though alQahtani had reportedly attended a computer course in Saudi Arabia.
Mohammad had taken several operatives to Karachi in July 2001 for classes in English language and American culture to prepare for the Southeast Asia hijacking operation. The plot was scheduled to be executed simultaneously with 9/11.
It is unclear when alKuwaiti travelled to Karachi; however it was apparently a hub for key al Qaeda operatives. Noted journalist and author Robert Fisk wrote in The Independent this week that Bin Laden was “obsessed with Karachi.”
While alKuwaiti is widely believed to be the courier in Abbottabad, another messenger is also listed in the files. In July 2003, Abu Faraj alLibbi received a letter from Bin Laden’s designated courier, Maulawi Abd alKhaliq Jan, requesting alLibbi take on the responsibility of collecting donations, organising travel and distributing funds to families in Pakistan. Bin Laden stated that alLibbi would be the official messenger between Bin Laden and others in Pakistan. In mid-2003, alLibbi moved his family to Abbottabad and worked between Abbottabad and Peshawar.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2011.