Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti

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Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
Died(2011-05-02)May 2, 2011
Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Other namesIbrahim Saeed Ahmed (born name), Shaykh Abu Ahmed
Arshad Khan
Mohammed Arshad
Occupationterrorist, courier
Military career
Allegiance Al-Qaeda
Service/branchAl-Qaeda central
RankLieutenant to Osama Bin Laden
Battles/warsAfghan Civil War (1996–2001)

War in Afghanistan (2001–2014)

War in North-West Pakistan

Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti (Arabic: أبو أحمد الكويتي), (died May 2, 2011), real name: Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed[1] (also known as Shaykh Abu Ahmed, Arshad Khan and Mohammed Arshad),[2] was a Pakistani[3] al-Qaeda member and courier for Osama bin Laden.[4]

He was not a Kuwaiti, but rather was an ethnic Pashtun and a Pakistani citizen.[1] He adopted the last name Al-Kuwaiti because his Pakistani parents lived in Kuwait.[5] According to secret documents, he was one of the few men bin Laden completely trusted and was said to be his "favorite courier and right-hand man".[6] He sheltered and lived with bin Laden for a number of years and was killed along with him by The U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group on May 2, 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)[7] and Arabic.[8] He was a protégé of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and had reportedly given computer training in Karachi to the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[8]

Contradicting the claims by Salahi that al-Kuwaiti had died in December 2001, in 2007 U.S. officials discovered the courier's real name and, in 2009, that he lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan. These findings were based on information collected from Guantánamo Bay detainees, notably Hassan Gul in 2004. From Gul, the United States intelligence learned that al-Kuwaiti was also close to Mohammed's successor Abu Faraj al-Libi. Gul 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.

View of the compound

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."[12]

Compound where al-Kuwaiti hid Osama bin Laden and his family


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.[13][14] 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 some people believe he was from Shangla (Khakhtagatta area), Charsadda lies about 180 kilometres to the west, while Shangla is situated on northern side 190 kilometres from Abbottabad in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (old name-NWFP) 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.[6] He was described as "a friendly man from the tribal-areas".[6]


At the time Osama bin Laden was in the top of most wanted in the US. Kuwaiti along with Bin Laden was killed during the raid on the compound by a United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group team on 2 May 2011.[6]


  1. ^ a b Mark Bowden (2012). "The death of Osama bin Laden: how the US finally got its man". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Toosi, Nahal; Khan, Zarar (4 May 2011). "Property records give new insights into bin Laden". Business Week. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 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.
  3. ^ Woodward, Bob (12 May 2011). "Death of Osama bin Laden: Phone call pointed U.S. to compound – and to 'the pacer'". Washington post. Last year Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the pseudonym for a Pakistani known to U.S. intelligence as the main courier for Osama bin Laden, took a call from an old friend.
  4. ^ Ross, Tim; Quilty-Harper, Conrad (3 May 2011). "WikiLeaks: Bin Laden's courier 'trained 9/11 hijack team'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed, Osama Bin Laden's Associate And Trusted Confidante, Identified: NATO". Huffington Post. 2 June 2011. The captives said the courier was known by the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, which he adopted because their parents lived in Kuwait.
  6. ^ a b c d Memmott, Mark (4 May 2011). "Bin Laden's Courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, Had Several Responsibilities". NPR. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  7. ^ Oborne, Peter (3 May 2011). "Osama bin Laden dead: the mysterious Khan family who were 'good neighbours'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  8. ^ a b Isikoff, Michael (4 May 2011). "How profile of bin Laden courier led CIA to its target". TODAY News. Archived from the original on 8 May 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  9. ^ Isikoff, Michael (2 May 2011). "Bin Laden's death rekindles 'enhanced' interrogation debate". MSNBC. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ United States Department of Defense (16 January 2008). "JTF-GTMO Detainee Assessment" (PDF). WikiLeaks. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "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.