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Bin Laden Report

Bin Laden Report

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Published by Stephen Emerson

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Published by: Stephen Emerson on May 03, 2012
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05/03/2012

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Harmony Program
Letters from Abbottabad:
Bin Ladin Sidelined? 
 
 
Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?
Nelly LahoudStuart CaudillLiam CollinsGabriel Koehler-DerrickDon RasslerMuhammad al-`UbaydiHARMONY PROGRAM
THE COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER AT WEST POINTwww.ctc.usma.edu 3 May 2012
The views expressed in this report are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of the CombatingTerrorism Center, U.S. Military Academy, Department of Defense or U.S. government.
 
May 3, 2012
Foreword
 The death of Usama bin Ladin one year ago understandably generated a significantamount of interest in the professionals who carried out the raid in Abbottabad,Pakistan, on the night of May 2
nd
. Lost in the focus on this single mission is the fact thatUnited States Special Operations Forces (SOF) have conducted thousands ofcomparable missions in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. The success of “NeptuneSpear” was the cumulative result of the experience, relentless focus and professionalismof a community that has been conducting these types of missions for over ten years.A second feature of the raid and one much less apparent to the general public is that theprofessionals conducting this operation were trained to survey the site and collect anyelectronic media, papers, or pocket litter that might inform future operations. Asdiscussed in the report, this process, known as F3EA (Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit andAnalyze), has helped to revolutionize the fight against al-Qa`ida and created a cyclicaloperational process for combating networked actors. The end of the raid in Abbottabadwas the beginning of a massive analytical effort as experts from across the IntelligenceCommunity (IC) worked to exploit these captured documents, which in turnundoubtedly contributed to additional operations.The Combating Terrorism Center, housed within the Department of Social Sciences atWest Point, has long recognized that captured battlefield documents have enormousvalue to students of terrorism. Since 2005 the longstanding partnership between theCTC and our colleagues who manage the Harmony database has facilitated the releaseof hundreds of documents to the public, with the intention of advancing the study ofterrorism and political violence. In its own small way, this report and the release ofsome documents from the Abbottabad compound to the public are simply acontinuation of this partnership.The CTC is proud to continue in this role by publishing these documents, and as withprevious releases two cautions are worth highlighting. First and most importantly isthat these documents likely represent only a fraction of the materials reportedly takenfrom the compound. If declassification of subsequent documents from Abbottabad ornew caches of materials from other locations is forthcoming, this would inevitablynecessitate additional analysis and reflection. Thus, the report that accompanies thedocuments must be understood as an effort to help reassess what we know about thegroup, but not as a definitive commentary on al-Qa`ida’s evolution or the group’scurrent status, and we should be extremely cautious of the notion that al-Qa`ida has

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