July 27th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Leaked documents offer few glimpses of bin Laden

The recently released cache of U.S. reports from Afghanistan provides fleeting glimpses into the possible whereabouts of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the years since his escape from American forces at Tora Bora.

Documents released by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks and published in the British newspaper The Guardian quoted intelligence sources as saying bin Laden wanted al Qaeda operatives disguised as journalists to attack Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a news conference in 2004. In 2005, his financial adviser and an Afghan insurgent leader reportedly were dispatched to obtain rockets from North Korea to use against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

In 2006, he was reported to be attending monthly meetings in the
Pakistani city of Quetta with fellow fugitives from the leadership of the Taliban, the Islamic militia that hosted al Qaeda when it controlled most of Afghanistan. Another report the same year states that he arranged a marriage for a valued lieutenant, a specialist in building roadside bombs.

Neither the documents cited only by the Guardian, which had advance access to the Wikileaks documents released Sunday, nor the information contained in them could be independently verified by CNN. The CIA would not comment on secret documents. But a U.S. counterterrorism official said on condition of anonymity that American authorities believe that the al Qaeda leader "has gone into deep hiding."

"We think he's spending a heck of a lot of time trying to avoid being
captured or killed," the official said. "After all, he's seen many of his top lieutenants taken off the battlefield since 9/11 - and especially over the past two years. We haven't had a firm fix on his location for a number of years. If we did, he wouldn't be there. The aggressive search for him continues without pause."

Bin Laden's organization carried out the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people and triggered the nearly 9-year-old Afghan war. The U.S. government has put a $25 million price on his head, but he has evaded capture.

In 2005, then-CIA Director Porter Goss told Time magazine that he had "an excellent idea" where bin Laden was but said that until "some weak links" were strengthened, "We're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice."

And in June, current CIA chief Leon Panetta told ABC's "This Week" that bin Laden "is in an area of the tribal areas of Pakistan," but there had been no precise information about his possible whereabouts for several years.

"Since then, it has been very difficult to get any intelligence on his exact location," Panetta said.

An August 2006 threat report included in the Wikileaks cache notes that a "high-level meeting" in Quetta resulted in six suicide bombers being dispatched to targets in northern Afghanistan. The meetings "take place once every month," either in Quetta or in villages along the Afghan-Pakistani border, "and there are usually about twenty people present," it states.

"The top four people in these meetings are Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Barader (PHON)," it states.

Like bin Laden, Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has been at large since the invasion. His deputy, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was reported captured in Pakistan this year, and Dadullah was killed in a U.S. airstrike in May 2007.

Another report states that Afghan insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar joined bin Laden's financial adviser, identified as "Dr. Amin," on a trip from Iran to North Korea in November 2005.

"While in North Korea, the two confirmed a deal with the North Korean government for remote-controlled rockets for use against American and coalition aircraft," the report states. "The deal was closed for an undetermined amount of money. The shipment of said weapons is expected shortly after the new year."

Hekmatyar, a onetime prime minister who fought against the Soviets in the 1980s, now leads an Afghan militia that has aligned itself with the Taliban against U.S. and allied troops.

- CNN's Katie Glaeser and Pam Benson contributed to this report.

soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. elitesack

    OKay i have one question. In this article it says "Bin Laden's organization carried out the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people and triggered the nearly 9-year-old Afghan war. The U.S. government has put a $25 million price on his head, but he has evaded capture." My question is, how do we know this? Where is the proof? Will someone please find me the proof without insulting me?

    July 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      Bin Laden has yet to be indicted for the 9/11 attacks as the FBI states their is no hard evidence linking him to the attacks. Bin Laden is dead. Reported to have died of kidney failure and buried in an unmarked grave as is the Wahhabi tradition. If he was suffering of kidney failure and would have required a sterile environment, electricity, and regular medical attention. Osama bin Laden will not be down for breakfast – he is dead.

      July 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaryM

      He publicly stated that he was responsible. Did you forget to watch the news that day? In addition, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad (planner of 9/11) has also stated that he worked at the behest of UBL. For everyone who thinks that the Shaykh was "tortured" and said whatever we wanted to hear, that's not the case with these extremists. People that are that entrenched have no problem admitting their deeds.

      July 29, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. David

    So why couldn't Bush capture Bin Laden if we knew where he was and that Bin Laden was attending monthly meetings?!?!?!

    Ruined the economy and decided not to capture a guy who killed 3,000 of our people. Nice job....really just frickin' nice job there Bush.

    July 27, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • CubanMom

      Right. Remember the war in Iraq was all about getting our greedy hands on Iraqi Oil. We need to protest in the streets until the Bush Wars come to an end.

      July 27, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      Here's a thought for both conspiricy supporters and those that think he is in hiding. We have not seen a video, still, or drone picture of him since Tora Bora. We have heard recorded rants that of course the CIA says are credible, but never he in person for over 6 yrs. Every "message" is accompanied by a still picture of him. Nothing more.

      Osama bin Ladin may be or was many things, but a zealot that does not appear to his flock is not one of them. His ego, and hatred of the west could not possibly be contained by reclusiveness, he would appear to everyone of his believers, monthly, if only he could.

      The overarching scenario is that the US needs to finish this war with a win or at least a "There,I warned you", But with OBL dead or gone the very core of the war for most US citizens is gone. We have no desire nor need to build an empire in Afganistan, or support a regime change. WIth the spectre of OBL still ever present, the goal is still there, with him gone, Americans would want out now.

      The reality of life is that the average American doens't give a whit about Afganistan and it's troubles, but the boogy man keeps us there, not the need ot build a regime that will fall anyway.

      July 28, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • MaryM


        That's an interesting take on the situation. I don't think he's alive either but it is far better for him to be alive in order to garner support of Al Qaida than it would be for the CIA to garner support for the war. I think the average American doesn't care about Osama or this war and it's a shame. Aside from Osama (who is in Pakistan not Afghanistan), Afghanistan was the training grounds for several terrorist organizations to include Al Qaida. It is in our country's best interest to win this war regardless of whether Osama is dead or alive. That's just my opinion.

        July 29, 2010 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
      • George Patton

        MaryM,will you stop spewing your ignorance on this webbsite.Its starting to get old!!!

        July 29, 2010 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dr. Randall Norris, Ph.D.

    Get out of of Afbamanam! Now! Save lives and money.

    July 27, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • nzx

      Dear Dr Randal, what was the area of research for your PhD and where did you do it? Islamabad or Kandahar?

      July 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pete Larson

    I posted some preliminary statistical analysis of the Wikileaks data on my personal blog. Please take a look at it.


    July 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nedrew

    I believe Bin Laden is dead also. When was the last audio or video tape made of him babbling away?

    July 27, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      he might be.. but I think he's alive. just hiding very well.

      July 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      bin Laden released an audio take in 2004 where he talked about John Kerry's run for President–so it's extremely unlikely that he was killed in 2001. He may have bought it in a Predator drone strike, though. Those birds are miracles!

      July 27, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • truther333

        Yup, that's what the Govt told you. MUST be true then. Here's another fun Gov't line from 1944: "it's OK men... go ahead and walk up to ground zero. it won't hurt you."... Oh, got a minute? Look up and read about the USS Liberty. Research Monsanto and industrial poisons from Alcoa. Educate yourself on systemic flouride and chlorine – not to mention the horrible H1 virus and vaccines. THEN lecture us all on the trust you have in the US Gov't. .......Brains cannot be open with Eyes Wide Shut.

        July 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eric

    They keep kicking a dead horse with this search for Bin Laden crap. He died in 2001 and he's still dead today PERIOD. They use this dead mans name as one of the many reasons to continue the "war".

    July 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      bin Laden released an audio take in 2004 where he talked about John Kerry's run for President–so it's extremely unlikely that he was killed in 2001. He may have bought it in a Predator drone strike, though. Those birds are miracles!

      July 27, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

        Joe,your right-wing comment here is very appalling and sickening.

        July 29, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Daniel-2

      Extremely well put,Eric.

      July 29, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. paul

    i think bin laden is dead, it appears that top taliban alquaida are takeing area assignments to wage jidah if one of them is killed another one is dispatched to take his place, i do not see where thier command is consentrated to one man, i believe bin laden was killed in tora bora when colin powell was in charge ,

    July 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Doesn't seem like it from this intelligence does it? Bin Laden survived Tora Bora and he did release some audio since then – a few times as I recall.

      July 27, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dennis Watts

    If you collate the comments from the two CIA directors, it sounds like Obama is in Pakistan.

    July 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jason

    Bush let him get away at Tora Bora. I was friends with the mother of a sniper team member in the know. Bush wanted to prolong the war long enough to carry him to the next election. Got more than he bargained for.

    July 27, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Well those who know the truth about Tora Bora need to speak up – all bets are off the table now.

      July 27, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      your friends with a mother of whom had a son who was sniper.... come on man, how good do you think that info is. :/ – im just sayin.

      July 27, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      "Bush let him get away"......Give me a break. Like GWB was on the ground in country and told the operatives, "No, we need to prolong this war...." More liberal spouting. Get your facts straight. The CIA agent in charge of the op requested military reinforcements, which didn't come. Secondly, the "local" freedom fighters in country refused to pursue Bin Laden for several hours, knowing he would escape into Pakistan.

      July 27, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
      • MaryM

        Tom, I see you saw the same special I did on the History channel. Additionally I would like to add this was a Special Forces mission not a "sniper" mission (who are attached to regular infantry units).

        July 29, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. jimmy

    Of course we know where he is. We're not waiting to find him, we're waiting to catch him. It does no one any good to kill him, we are waiting for a good way to kill everyone around him at which point we hope the gangly dying puke doesn't have the guts to eat a bullet. We'd rather see his head detach like we did with sadaam and his buddy...

    July 27, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. opgeoff

    Unfortunate that bin Laden was not captured when he was cornered in Tora Bora. Still wonder how that could have happened...

    July 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • mcore

      It looked like it was going to be a long fight with many US casualties. Invading Iraq looked easier, like a great way to gain instant brownie points – they figured it would be a quick, decisive victory and GWB would look like a hero. Of course, they were very, very wrong. And lost the best opportunity we've ever had to catch Bin Laden.

      July 27, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Head Case

      Paranoid much?

      July 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      That seems to be a pretty ridiculous statement to me. I`ll admit I don`t follow this war as closely as you do, but I don`t understand why they would let Bin Laden go to further their agenda. This would mean they would be giving away the fame and fortune that will come to whoever finally brings Bin Laden to justice. Also, I think that capturing Bin Laden would rally Americans to support the US military`s objectives in the Middle East. I agree with Head Case that there seems to be a lot of paranoia in your statement.

      July 27, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaryM

      The History channel channel did a piece on the Tora Bora incident. Apparently, special forces were conducting operations with their Afghan partners and one group was over run because the Afghans took off and ran home. So, the group that was close to Bin Ladin had to leave their location in order to save their brothers. The report the History channel did was about all the failed attempts to capture him to include the Clinton era attempts. It was very insightful.

      July 29, 2010 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
      • MaryM

        Ugh!! Please don't judge the spelling...I'm at work and I'm trying to be fast about my commentary. I noticed a few errors such as "history channel channel".

        July 29, 2010 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kolawole Ajao

    If this leak is true, then we are just an inch away from capturing Osam bin Laden.

    July 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • usafvet-dem

      TREASON!!! That is the only way to define what these criminals have done. I am a moderate democrat and a long serving U.S. veteran. Everyone involved in the unauthorized release of classified information should be prosecuted, and if found guilty, punished to the full extent of the law.
      TREASON is a capital offense (death penalty)
      Every member of the armed forces, government employee, and contractor that has access to classified information is well informed of the penalties involved with the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Involuntary but neglectful disclosure can result in: (loss of job/clearance, fines, jail time, etc.). Voluntary disclosure, which is usually defined as espionage or treason can result in: (extended prison sentences, life in prison, or the death penalty)
      Civilians are subject to U.S. federal criminal courts. Active duty military members are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
      Whatever the employment status of these criminals, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
      These people need to be exposed and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It is not a difficult task to trace the access of the data and correlate it to a specific individual. I am certain that the appropriate agencies are on the track right now and already know who these traitors are. I will take great pleasure in watching their prosecution and hopefully execution in the media.. That is if the media bothers to show it..
      U.S. media outlets that openly release classified information without government authorization should be penalized to the full extent of the law.
      Foreign media outlets that openly release U.S classified information without U.S. government authorization should have all of their media correspondents banned from entry to the U.S.

      July 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • truther333

        Totally Agree!

        July 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • dean

        Seems loyalty among terriorist is much stronger than the U.S. government intel sector, but like most fed offices there is always someone willing to spill their guts out for a cause they probably think is noble.

        July 28, 2010 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
      • Bubba

        That's about how I see it, too. Someone struggled with his conscience and decided to release this stuff, and maybe they had reasons and it will turn out to have been for the best in the end, but they did it against orders and law. I'd be sympathetic if I were on a jury, but the law is pretty clear.

        July 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • Don Shaeffer

        I concur with the thoughts expressed in this reply. If the transferors of this information – which could result in the death of individuals considered positive to the United States – then our legal system is out of order. While, so called, reporters have almost free access to report, some constrictions MUST be placed on them. If editors approve copy from individuals reporting classified information then they, as well as the corporation approving the transmission of such copy must be held responsible.
        The concept of free press – as envisioned in the Watergate scandal – is not restricted as to naming individuals not yet tried and convicted according to existing laws – then those individuals must be held accountable!

        July 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • White Lotus

      How do you feel we are an inch from getting Bin Laden? Nowhere in the article discusses his exact whereabout. There is only one mention of someone having a very good idea of where he was but he didn't have the means to do anything with the info. If you read this story carefully they reiterate the fact (over and over) that for the past 3 or 4 years there hasn't been any concrete or detailed info on Bin Laden's whereabouts. So how could we be an inch from finding him?

      July 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Manpc

      Pakistan will never allow america to capture Osama. Becoz that is the main souce of their earning dollers. If Osama died or get captured what Pakistani will eat ? As far as the roll of India and Pakistanthe in Afghanistan are concerned, available evidence facilitates the conclusion that whereas India’s engagement with Afghanistan has largely been constructive, Pakistan’s involvement has mainly been destructive.

      July 28, 2010 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
      • Nasir Qader

        I agree 100%. Pakistan is the problem.

        July 28, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
      • Evil Virus

        You need some constructive English lessons, and a sanity check while you're at it. Indians just feel left out of this whole situation and keep trying to insert themselves into the picture. A bunch of sad attention seekers! Spend your energies trying to fix your own problems. You haven't got rid of the cast system still .. there's a starting point!

        July 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC

      The simple truth is that it does not matter. The war against terrorism will never end. These are the times we live in now.

      July 28, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
      • MaryM

        I agree with you in a way but I also disagree. In my opinion removing large terrorist political figures will have a huge blow to the morale of the average terrorist. Also, I think Bin Ladin is already dead but Al Qaida keeps saying he's alive to garner support.

        July 29, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
      • Daniel-2

        The right-wing thugs in Washington say the same thing,MaryM.They need this bogeyman to drum up support for this obnoxious war and that's that.

        July 29, 2010 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      He will be on the VIEW next week with whoopi and the gang.

      July 29, 2010 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Jed

      Yep, latest intel says he's somewhere in Chicago driving a cab.

      July 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |