September 14th, 2010
10:44 AM ET

New info on post-9/11 hunt for bin Laden emerges

Western intelligence agencies were able to form a detailed picture of Osama bin Laden's movements in the years after 9/11, and came closer to capturing or killing him than has so far been acknowledged, a former European intelligence official has disclosed.

The former official, who declined to be identified, told CNN that in 2003 and 2004 an informant in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region with close connections to al Qaeda's top leadership provided a stream of reliable information on bin Laden's movements. But the information was never quite fresh enough for Western intelligence agencies to target al Qaeda's leader.

Nearly nine years ago, bin Laden and others in the al Qaeda leadership escaped as their haven among the caves and mountains of Tora Bora - close to the Afghanistan border with Pakistan - came under withering U.S. air attacks. Despite bin Laden being the world's most sought-after fugitive, to date very little has been reliably reported about his movements beyond a consensus that he is now likely hiding somewhere in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The former official said that in the period after bin Laden left Tora Bora, under pressure and on the run, he and his lieutenants were little able to communicate with each other. But gradually, al Qaeda restored its communications and was able to resume meetings.

Bin Laden even met with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at some point before the latter's arrest in February 2003. Additionally, bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri were frequently in the same area and regularly in communication.

During this time, Western intelligence agencies were able to draw up a detailed map tracing bin Laden's movements, according to the former intelligence official.

In 2003-2004, bin Laden spent time in several areas - amid the rugged mountains of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal areas and in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, a more heavily populated area where Pakistan's security forces had a greater presence.

But according to the former official, bin Laden shunned big cities, preferring to stay in rural areas. The intelligence stream indicated that al Qaeda's leader also made several trips across into Afghanistan during this period, despite the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops.

In a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek, Western intelligence agencies were always playing catch-up as bin Laden moved from location to location. Tantalizingly at one point, according to the former official, information about his exact location was only one week old. But the intelligence stream on bin Laden's movements never resulted in what is known as "actionable intelligence" that could have led to his capture or assassination.

After 2004 the intelligence stream dried up, according to the former official, who did not elaborate why. But he said that despite the setback, information on al Qaeda's leaders' movements never completely dried up; and recent intelligence suggested bin Laden and al-Zawahiri were still in close geographic proximity and able to communicate with each other.

However, few al Qaeda followers get to meet them. European and American jihadists who joined up with al Qaeda in 2008 have subsequently told Western interrogators that for security reasons access for them to bin Laden was strictly off limits.

Bin Laden is now mainly concentrating on providing "strategic direction" to the al Qaeda organization, rather than involving himself deeply in the daily running of the terrorist organization, the former official told CNN. Raw intelligence reports leaked in July on the Wikileaks website suggesting bin Laden took part in detailed planning of operations should be treated with skepticism, said the former official.

U.S. intelligence officials play down the possibility that bin Laden might be captured soon. CIA Director Leon Panetta stated in June that very little hard information on bin Laden's movements had come to light in recent years.

But on Friday, President Barack Obama said that pressure on the al Qaeda leadership meant that "they have been holed up in ways that have made it harder for them to operate." He added: "Bin Laden has gone deep underground. Even Zawahiri, who is more often out there, has been much more cautious."

soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. dindy Sri lanka

    Bin laden is at least 50 feet under ground some where.

    September 18, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Fuking Idiots. Stay Stupid It Works for you.

    September 17, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Osama Obama

    The myth of OBL's still being alive lines everyone's pockets. The Pakistani ISI, The Taliban, Al Quada, religious muslim fundamentalists world wide, the intel agencies of the West, and last but not least the US National Security State.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Porkchop

    In my humble opinion.......Osama was killed shortly after 9/11...he was a patsy. The CIA has his body on ice somewhere and when ready they will pull it out and say " Hey look, Obama the great one found Osama!!!" ......Obama will guarantee his re-election and the war on terror will continue till all resources are secured.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    now, YOU, were saying?

    September 17, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Iraq = Jihad.
    Slit Their Fuking Throats.
    Inshallah.

    September 17, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Mariah ? on top of you also still owe me 20 dollars,
    The ONLY Thing I want To Hear come out of YOUR Mouth?
    " ANY Thing YOU Want Honey Bear ",

    September 16, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      you new x-mas song is "Oh Santa? wel lest look at My List, Have YOU been Naughty or Nice??,,
      hmm,,naughty, naughty,naughty,naughty,naughty,naugty,naughty, hmm NOT Looking GOOD here,

      September 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mehdi General Dr Bad

        hang on ,let me check my OTHER Lists,,,

        September 16, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    blocked intercpted = `p`iss me off some more `c`.u.n,.t.s.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Now, Who is next?

    September 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    which reminds me Denver city – countty? YOU also owe my ex wife Barbara Jeanettee Shaw 100 Million Dollars.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    YOU were saying?

    September 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    america Owes me 306 Million.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Feds &Jackson County Owes my ex wife Barb 3 Million Dollars. as well as also owes My daughter Jessi 3 million.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Springfield Or. and that pig edegar "Doc" Owes MY ex wife Anna and Daughter Jessi 100 million Dollars.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    I been llooking for yOU smith in oregon. sukcks ot be YOU. or goernor ted kozinzky.
    go spend 5 minutes finding out who i am. look up cars that run on water. engines that run on steam. explsoives. terroits. f.b.i, long list.
    then come back here and suck MY dick.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    To Many Big Words? no speak english? deaf ? retarded?
    stupid? (no need to answer)

    September 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    YOU can not even find ONE ArmY Nurse?
    maybe im looking fo rthe wrong Ranked Nurse?
    hey,, Anyone seen, General Deborah Christine D' Angelo? from Jersey?

    September 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    now, YOU were saying?

    September 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    oh im sorry,, YOU never heard of ME. so there fore I dont exist. YOU know EVERYONE. YOU KNOW EVERYTHING.
    YOU dont see me so,,,
    Idiots.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    now i have GOOD News, BAD News, and Worse News, Which do YOU want First?

    September 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    hey idiot, Guess What , IM a REAL 5 Star General.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Inshallah.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    smart off some more.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    blocked interecpted = now tell your self im not real some more, u c~ock smoker. its ok you are a qu~eer now.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    now tell your self im not real some more, u c~ock smoker. its ok you are a qu~eer now.

    September 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Now,,Wheres Waldo? and MY Nurse? and Mariah ?

    September 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Testament

    Nice to see that not too many ppl are rly taking this STORY seriously and that even less ppl are reading it. This story is just a load of BS. Ppl know this is bout money/ oil not Osama. He's just another excuse to stay there.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      which Testament are you?

      September 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    A Funny thinh Happened on the Road To Kashmir,,,Wheres Mariah? "we " "meme and i = we" neeed to have a Little "chat",

    September 16, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Next.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    message blocked.

    September 16, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  31. batman

    Osama is not dead. The terrorist world would rejoice if he had died, knowing the U.S. was never able to capture or kill him.

    September 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Koatz

    I have heard this story in different forms since 2001. In short, "we" were close to capturing him. Big deal.

    September 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  33. RAAJ KAPOOR

    I heard OBL is hanging out in Tel Aviv beaches....all shaved and clean....he is a toursit guide there

    September 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      rotflmfao !!!!!!

      September 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  34. The Wizard

    Osama moved to Mexico, crossed our border illegally and now we can't touch him!! He's amongst us man!!!

    September 16, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      well Factully, mexico now goes all the way to camp white side in oregon. pretty much every thing south is now mexico.
      texas is also now mexico, i was born in "New Mexico, "wizard = WAllhummper ",
      Witch "Wizzard" are you?

      September 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  35. hottehead2010

    Osama Bin Laden the American CIA trained & weapons supplied terrorist is either dead or is in a safe house either in white house or the undergroud vaults of the Pentagon thats why he cannot be found, so its nessassary to raid the White House or Pentagon if this terrorist is to be arrested

    September 16, 2010 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      hmm mayeb he is under obamas new 500 milion doallar desk,,,did obam buy more then one of those "Rugs", he does know to buy at least 3- 5 of them dont he? some stains you just cant get out,,

      September 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Smith in Oregon

    Such false flag propaganda as 'we are still searching for Osama bin Ladin and we got this close' is simply bait to see how many react to the false flag propaganda. Osama bin Ladin is either long dead in a unmarked grave or living fat off of American taxpayer Billions given to Pakistan inside a sweet Pakistani ISI safe house with his numerous wives and children.

    By casting Osama into the role of the shadow bogeyman, the CIA can extort unlimited funding from the US Congress and US Senators that are gullible enough to be sold there pack of lies and crafted fiction.

    September 16, 2010 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Right smith in oregon. Bait For Me, not working real well for them.
      do you have a firt name and home town?
      want mine again?
      do YOU have an extra Fire Truck for Butte Falls Or.?
      keep running coward.

      September 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    hey smith GAS bag in Oregon? YOU the same one who ripped off 150 million from jobs from MY Children to buy a fuking amtrac train car?
    are YOU THAT Smith?

    September 16, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Smith in Oregon

      Yup.

      September 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mehdi General Dr Bad

        well then,it sucks to BE YOU.

        September 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mehdi General Dr Bad

        YOU owe MY children 13 Trillion Dollars and A Fire Truck. And I want it. Now.
        D.R. Shaw Butte Falls Or. Regestered Independent.

        September 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    how do you tell a punjabi from a hindu from a pile of S.H.I.T ?
    The S.H.I.T Smells Better. I m not your hindu gurlfriend paki dog. go hump a leg , inshallah.
    go lay down with your pups, inshallah,
    go set your underwear on fire, inshallah

    September 16, 2010 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      guess again you son of a pig.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  39. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    i heard Ayatollah Bn Laden had the Hots for Whitney huston. and i heard she and Bobby Brown Broke up, maybe you can use her ass for bait, or something. or trade her for prisoners or something, inshallah.

    September 16, 2010 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  40. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Wheres waldo?

    September 16, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  41. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    hey punjabi dog, these kaffur want to know why i dont kill you for them? hey american dog,,,this punjabi trash wanst ot know why i dont kill you for them,,

    September 16, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  42. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    Wrong Answer.

    September 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Now that is funny!!!

      September 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Mehdi General Dr Bad

    ROTFLMFAO !!!!

    September 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  44. hindu filthy?

    Breaking News: Osama is indian agent according to Pakistani Intelligence......

    September 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bledsoe

      "Pakistani Intelligence" That is an oxymoron.

      September 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  45. hindu filthy?

    are hindus really filthy? Osama is indian agent working for sare gama raaaaaaaaaa

    September 15, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  46. NYT TREASON

    "After 2004 the intelligence stream dried up, according to the former official, who did not elaborate why"

    The intelligence stream dried up because the NY Times published our methods of tracking UBL and AQ. As a result UBL and AQ change their methods of communications, relying on messengers instead of technology. NY Times committed treason against the United States.

    September 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mehdi General Dr Bad

      Right.

      September 16, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
      • Mehdi General Dr Bad

        now add Murdoch and turner and,,,

        September 16, 2010 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
      • Mehdi General Dr Bad

        and clinton, and obama,and bush,and cheany,and rove,

        September 16, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Mehdi General Dr Bad

        rumsfeild, mc chrystall,petray,mullen,

        September 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  47. orchidirene

    We had to retaliate...look how many people here died on 9-11-01. I pray for our military and our government.

    September 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      This Guy that is using My Old Name must be a real Idiot!!! Because everyone can see that it isn't me...

      September 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Another Dumb Redneck Agenda

    OMG... do you mean... the 9/11 conspiracy... is a goverment conspiracy?
    This is too big a mystery for me, I think we'd better call the Hardly Boys.

    September 15, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel-2

      That would give me a raging stonker.

      September 15, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  49. jaredsparks

    Binhidin is the boogieman for the official big lie 9/11 story.

    September 15, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      The only liar here is you, Mr. Conspiracy Theorist!

      September 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Atle Myhre, Norway

    As an old navy radioman, i know atmospheric desturbense occour. Maybe he was at Bora Bora, not Tora Bora.😛

    September 15, 2010 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  51. BLOGGGGER

    blah blah blah

    September 14, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel-2

      That sounds like a typical Tea Partier when they're not using their favorite Sunday School words.They never say anything intelligent anyway.

      September 15, 2010 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
      • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

        As opposed to you, who constantly blathers his conspiracy theories about the MIC.

        September 15, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  52. AssAhMaBeenWithLama

    Is dead.

    September 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • MooHamMadVSMooHamMad

      Claim of MooHamMad.

      September 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Smith in Oregon

    Another propaganda piece. Osama bin Ladin is now nothing but a huge Cash Cow for the US Military complex.

    Osama bin Ladin is either long dead and various sightings of him along with alleged tapes are simply false flag propaganda releases by the CIA to continue to milk the Cash Cow OR

    Osama bin Ladin is living in a Pakistani ISI safe house, fat from American taxpayer provided Billions of free cash America has provided the Pakistani Government. Recent Pakistani ISI statements indicate the ISI have a great many of the top Taliban Commanders living largely in ISI safe houses.

    September 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette,IN

      Quite true,Smith.Thank you.

      September 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
      • Smith in Oregon

        Keep your own opinion to yourself i can speak for myself perfectly well.

        September 14, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • dwight huth

      I see that this jerk just stole your ID,Smith since I know that it wasn't you.He steals mine,too!

      September 14, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Dan in Lafayette,IN

    The only reason that you would call this war obscene is because we are taking out all the obscene people like the Taliban and terrorists alike that have no concern for life, just for power and control over the people and if you ask these extreme Islamic radicals they would be telling you that would not stop at just power and control over their own people but all people!

    September 14, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette,IN

      Sorry folks,I didn't post that stupid statement above.This war is obscene because the Afghans are suffering from it far more than the Americans are and the right-wing thugs in Washington don't care as long as it serves ther selfish agenda!

      September 14, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette,IN

        And the ones doing all the killing are taliban and their supporters the ISI.

        September 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette,IN

        I wish I wasn't too stupid to realize the left wing thugs control Washington. But hey, what can I do? I live beneath power lines in my parents' basement and my tinfoil hat doesn't give much protection from the radiation emanating from MIC's black helicopters.

        September 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • Daniel-2

        There goes Ernie Beatty again,trying to make Dan look like a fool in the last two blogs.I suppose he'll do it to me next.

        September 14, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dan in Lafayette,IN

        I don't think so, you are not of any interest.

        September 15, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Lafayette,IN

      Only those who have the best interest for the entire nation of Afghanistan will win this war! And when we leave when the Afghan security forces can do it alone I hope they kill every one of you and your murderous terrorists of truth 360 degrees!

      September 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • JamesDean

      God created Muhammad and therefor Islam is a false religion. Do not worship false prophets like Muhammad. It is written, it is so.

      September 16, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Munson Summer

      How much sense does it make to justify taking life – by saying they don't care about life....doesn't sound very pro-life.... The fact that by perpetrating an unprovoked war doesn't sound like terror to you?

      September 17, 2010 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  55. John

    As if they're going to find the remains of Osama bin Laden who in most probablity has been dead for the past 8 years.More right-wing propaganda just to keep the support for this obscene war going.

    September 14, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • BUBBA--ALABAMA STYLE!!!

      Yabba-dabba-doo!!!

      September 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryKegel(US Army)

      Either He is dead are He is living with The Bush's in Texas!!!

      September 15, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Munson Summer

        Yeppers! If they catch him they'll have to call this whole war (strengthening the military industrial complex) thingy off... and what capitalist making weapons wants that?😉

        September 17, 2010 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      Why is America so set on fighting the Tailban? I thought America was after al Queada teorrists? Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11.

      September 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Sean

        We're so 'obsessed' with fighting the Taliban because we're in Afghanistan. The Taliban technically control the country because after we helped the Taliban fight of the soviets back in the 80's we left them with a lot of weapons and control over the country.

        September 16, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
      • thoughtdog

        The Taliban is reffered to as an Islamic fundamentalist group aiding al-quida in afganistan...the truth is...The Taliban is nothing but a drug cartel, suppliers of 80% of the herion sold in the world. Most of them could care less about Allah and the muslim faith. Their interest is in the cash from enslaving their fellow countrymen to raise and distribute their crop.

        September 17, 2010 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |