Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Sheikh Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti (died 2 May 2011), also known as Shaykh Abu Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Mohammed Arshad, was a Kuwait-born Pakistani al-Qaeda member and courier for Osama bin Laden. According to secret documents, al-Kuwaiti was one of the few men Osama bin Laden completely trusted and was said to be his "favorite courier and right-hand man". He sheltered and lived with Osama bin Laden for a number of years and was killed with him by a U.S. Navy SEAL team in May 2011.
Al-Kuwaiti was a Pashtun, an ethnic Afghan background who was born and grew up in Kuwait and spoke Pashto (in a cultivated, urban accent) and Arabic. He was a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and had reportedly given computer training in Karachi to the perpetrators of the September 11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. He was implicated in the attacks and was contacted in the aftermath by Riduan "Hambali" Isamuddin. Al-Kuwaiti provided a safe haven to Isamuddin and several of his close associates in his home in a quiet residential neighborhood of Karachi.
Guantanamo Bay documents dated 16 January 2008 revealed that Mohamedou Ould Salahi had claimed that Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti was wounded while fleeing Tora Bora after the Battle of Tora Bora in December 2001 and had later died from his arm injuries. The document claimed he was a mid-level al-Qaeda operative who facilitated the movement and safe haven of senior al-Qaeda members and families. As a speaker of Arabic and Pashto he could communicate and move easily among both the Arab members of al-Qaeda and the Pashtun tribesmen of Pakistan.
Contradicting the claims by Salahi that al-Kuwaiti had died in December 2001, in 2007, U.S. officials were reported to only then have discovered the courier's real name and, in 2009, that he lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan, using information collected from Guantánamo Bay detainees, notably from Hassan Ghul in 2004. From Ghul, the United States intelligence learned that al-Kuwaiti was also close to Mohammed's successor Abu Faraj al-Libi. Ghul further revealed that al-Kuwaiti had not been seen in some time, a fact which led U.S. officials to suspect he was traveling with Bin Laden.
He was reportedly tracked from Peshawar by Pakistanis working for the CIA. "The National Security Agency reportedly tracked phone calls between the courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's relatives in the Persian Gulf to all numbers in Pakistan, and NSA surveillance eventually tracked Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti's location in Pakistan via one such phone call", the AP writes.
"In August 2010 they tracked al-Kuwaiti as he drove from Peshawar to a residence in Abbottabad – and as analysts inventoried the compound's striking security features they became convinced that it housed a high-level al-Qaeda figure."
Using satellite photos and intelligence reports, the CIA sought to identify the inhabitants of the fortified compound in Abbottabad. In September 2010, the CIA concluded that the compound was "custom built to hide someone of significance" and that it was very likely that Osama bin Laden was residing there. Al-Kuwaiti was said to be one of the two tall fair-skinned bearded men who claimed to be ethnic Pashtuns and were known in the community to be living at the house and occasionally attended local funerals.
He went locally by the name Arshad Khan, and his brother (or cousin as some neighbors thought) went by the name Tareq Khan. They claimed to be from a village near the town of Charsadda, which lies about 180 kilometres to the west, in Pakistan's northwestern frontier province, and to have obtained their wealth from a family-owned hotel in Dubai. He also claimed that because of his occupation as a money changer, he needed high walls to keep out enemies he had encountered in his profession. He was described as "a friendly man from the tribal-areas". He was killed during the raid on the compound by a United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group team on 2 May 2011.
- Toosi, Nahal; Khan, Zarar (4 May 2011). "Property records give new insights into bin Laden". Business Week. Archived from the original on 2012-11-10. Retrieved 6 May 2011. "U.S. officials have identified the courier as Sheikh Abu Ahmed, a Pakistani man born in Kuwait who went by the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. They obtained his name from detainees held in secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe and vetted it with top al-Qaida operatives like Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."
- Ross, Tim; Quilty-Harper, Conrad (3 May 2011). "WikiLeaks: Bin Laden's courier 'trained 9/11 hijack team'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- Memmott, Mark (4 May 2011). "Bin Laden's Courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, Had Several Responsibilities". NPR. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- Oborne, Peter (3 May 2011). "Osama bin Laden dead: the mysterious Khan family who were 'good neighbours'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- Isikoff, Michael (4 May 2011). "How profile of bin Laden courier led CIA to its target". TODAY News. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- Isikoff, Michael (2 May 2011). "Bin Laden's death rekindles 'enhanced' interrogation debate". MSNBC. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
- Conboy, Kenneth J. (2006). The second front: inside Asia's most dangerous terrorist network. Equinox Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 978-979-3780-09-2. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- United States Department of Defense (16 January 2008). "JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment". WikiLeaks. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- Rozen, Laura (4 May 2011). "The courier: the multiple identities of the man who led U.S. to bin Laden". The Envoy. Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
- Mazzetti, Mark; Cooper, Helene (2 May 2011). "Detective Work on Courier Led to Breakthrough on Bin Laden". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- "How the US tracked couriers to elaborate bin Laden compound". MSNBC. 2 May 2011. Archived from the original on 2 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.