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January 16, 2014

Osama Bin Laden’s Real Mystery Hunters

Osama bin Laden is dead. Navy SEALs conducted the raid and America has been informed that the CIA served as the key intelligence component locating his position in Abbottabad. With everything we have been told pertaining to this operation, something has been left out of the picture.

Every good thesis starts with some facts. Then again, the same goes with every good conspiracy theory. Well, this isn’t some conspiracy theory—this is a thesis that has been proven from those in the know.

As American media attempted to chastise the contractual force serving alongside their uniformed military counterparts abroad, no media outlet recognized and acknowledged the greatest success that came from the contractual component. One of those successes is the actual identification of Osama Bin Laden’s location in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Yes, it was a very unique and incredibly effective team of contractors who first located Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

I worked as a contractor in eastern Afghanistan throughout the majority of 2008. During that time, I was exposed to a very unique network of Non-Government Organizations and contractors. A safe-house was created in Jalalabad where, every Thursday night, these “civilians” would rendezvous for some relaxation and discuss projects they were working on.

I saw all walks of life come in and out of this specific safe-house, ranging from Americans to Pashtuns among many other foreign nationalities. Some persons would sporadically drop off a thumb drive and quickly leave. What was in those thumb drives varied.

More often than not, these thumb drives were filled with grid coordinates showing where certain humanitarian initiatives, like micro-hydro dams, were being built. Those running the safe-house would compile the overflow of data and use it to ensure proper coordination efforts were met. This is where things got real interesting.

The thumb drives also included key information related to High Valued Targets (HVT’s). Their whereabouts were listed, photographs filed with each HVT’s name, their command, etc. In a nutshell, intelligence packets were, at times, placed inside these thumb drives.

On the surface, those running the safe-house appeared to be NGO’s, but they weren’t. They were actual civilian contractors working under a pot of funds that came straight out of the Pentagon.

Of note, the contractors mentioned were not DoD employees but rather true contractors—contractors capable of bringing multiple pre-existing networks ranging from military, NGO’s, intelligence officials, and locals into one larger intelligence system.

Neither the CIA nor the DIA could compete with the human intelligence network these contractors in eastern Afghanistan had created. In fact, I actually introduced some DIA officers to a few of those who managed this safe-house knowing how valuable their operation truly was from an intelligence replication perspective.

You read that right. I introduced official DIA officers to this operation and I did it because they had absolutely no clue the system in place was even operational.

The DIA officers working on the ground were oblivious to this operation until they were exposed to it. I later found after debriefing one of the most powerful intelligence heads out of the Pentagon that he too was unaware of this operation.

What’s interesting about this is two-fold—the tactical DIA officers had no clue and neither did one of America’s top intelligence officers. But someone inside the Pentagon did know about it, considering these persons were paid through Pentagon funds.

How many actually remember Michael Furlong? How many remember the controversy surrounding him and his “illegal off-the books” spy ring in eastern Afghanistan and Western Pakistan? Here, take a read from a NY Times article about that story.

Let me be very clear about something. I am not going to defend Michael Furlong nor will I not defend him. I will say though, in no way can anyone from the Pentagon simply divert approximately $20 million without others within the Pentagon or CIA knowing—or, at a minimum, without proper direction.

I know many who were involved in this operation. I know the risks they took. I also know that back in 2008, at least one very powerful person out of the Pentagon was briefed about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden—Abbottabad. I also know Khushab, the home of Pakistan’s most significant nuclear complex, was mentioned during this debrief and that location was in reference to Ayman al-Zawahiri—today’s leader of Al Qaeda.

What’s interesting about all this is the fact that an American doctor was working in this region for quite some time among those operating out of Jalalabad’s safe-house. That American doctor created a network of medical practioners who were based in western Pakistan. Don’t forget that Shakil Afridi was a doctor—the doctor we all learned about who actually assisted the CIA in verifying Bin Laden’s hole-up site in Abbottabad.

Bin Laden is dead and yet his bounty reward was never paid.

Today, the network I had written about has disbanded. Some of those persons have moved on with their lives while others suffer physical and psychological injuries for a job no one would likely ever know about until now. Yet the only reward they received was the thoughts that their long and hard work helped lead to the death of the world’s number one most wanted men—Osama Bin Laden.

Kerry Patton is author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors


About the Author

is an internationally recognized security, terrorism, and intelligence professional. He has taught domestic and international organizations in counter-terrorism, intelligence, and physical security related issues. He has briefed some of the highest government officials ranging from ambassadors to members of Congress and Pentagon staff. He is author of the book Contracted: America's Secret Warriors and Contracted II: America's Terror Trackers, and Going Rogue: The Compilation.

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  • traumamama

    It is totally unsat that anyone is forced to purchase insurance that clearly wouldn't pay. However, I wouldn't hold my breath that this administration, or DOS, will ever step up and do the right thing unless they are forced into it. If they had been interested in doing the right thing, there is at least a good chance that Mr. Doherty would not have been killed to start with. There is such a complete lack of honor, ethics, or integrity at play that it boggles my mind.

  • flagg

    Recon6 flagg G'day Recon6, My thought is such roles would probably be better suited to single or divorced guys with grown kids. SF fellas who've got 10-20-30 years experience with relevant language/cultural skills  with the kinetic stuff largely behind them.  Willing to fully immerse themselves for 3-5 years, even permanently, if possible/suitable. Acting as direct hire or contracted "unconventional diplomats" deeply immersed in the local environment overtly collecting on Non State Actors and recommending/executing foreign policy directed as NSAs. Unconventional diplomacy SMEs who are able to build discrete but overt networks to be leveraged by State Department and DOD. Is a conventional diplomatic US foreign service officer capable of, or likely to, develop useful contacts in a 21st century Karachi/Lagos/Cairo/Kinshasha version of Gangs of New York where criminals like Bill the Butcher mesh with Boss Tweed to create grey space political machines. Can a conventional US foreign service officer visit Rio favelas in Brazil without a battalion of BOPE? I doubt it, but I suspect a former SF fella  could develop an overt network that would allow him access to those who actually govern the favela. A future consisting of undergoverned megaslum urban spaces(1 toilet per 600 in Mumbai per Kilcullen's "Out of the Mountains") due to insufficient tax base to pay for it leads to "sovereign" spaces(ruled by gangs where the smart ones morph into political machine legitimacy) within sovereign states. I see it like those Russian Babushka dolls where conventional diplomatic infrastructure, capabilities, and networks only get you through the top couple of levels at most.  Unconventional diplomatic infrastructure, capabilities, and networks are needed to crack through to the center. It sounds like the US has already been doing slices of this in an uncoordinated mashup. I reckon what's needed is a spartan central coordination effort managing several hundred former SF fellas working unconventionally, overtly, but discretely to provide the US better insight and policy recommendation directed at Non State Actors. As the US continues to disengage as the global cop, the void is going to continue to be filled. Unconventional diplomats with local operational latitude could provide a compelling "rear guard" for hopefully mitigating a less messy strategic geopolitical "break contact" with some parts of the world by building overt but discrete networks in and around un(der)governed spaces and rising Non State Actors. Just my 0.02c

  • susanmarie24

    traumamama  From what I understand, there was a clause in Glen's life insurance policy that says his beneficiaries do not collect unless they are his children or his wife which Glen did not have.  He was forced to buy the insurance and paid for it -- in other words it was worthless from the get go.  It has now come down to the courts.  The administration (ugh) and state department will let it play out in the courts because I am sure there are other contractors who lost their lives who did not have a wife or children and their beneficiaries didn't get anything either.  Using a clause to deny benefits to a hero's estate is totally immoral and unjust and whether it was  a "clause" or not, I believe the administration should make sure this clause is taken out and payout the contractors estates like Glen who so clearly deserve it--and they paid for it--instead of remaining silent and acting as if they can do nothing about it. As you said, they do not consider this.

  • Recon6

    flagg  Thanks for the provided links, quite informative.  I found this pos as applicable in multiple AO's worldwide and it bears strong consideration, imo, to confront/combat current issues as experienced by our current SOF. I do ?? the utilization of spouses however.  I do see the benefit of a female 'operative', but wouldn't that go back to current and past 'discussions' on SOFREP as to the validity of women in combat arenas, even well trained females?  I would tend to think having my spouse along would highly endanger and/or inhibit my ability to 'operate' with the embed unit.  Regardless, this would appear to be an endeavor quite suited for SOF, especially Army SF and the extended rewards over time could be priceless as we are all aware of the lack of Humint in many situations. Again, would like to Thank You for the Intell, you have definitely piqued my interest....6

  • flagg

    I completely agree that the NGO platform opens up a huge amount of opportunities for effective intelligence gathering, particularly in the form of OSINT and HUMINT. "Every soldier a sensor" also has great potential in the NGO space. Unfortunately, I'm concerned that irresponsible application could be placing some of the vast majority of NGO workers at risk. NGOs accused of spying and treated accordingly(especially by violent non state actors) has been an issue, but I think it will become a greater problem down the track. This is one of those topics I think is relevant to discuss in the open, but I would hope somewhat obliquely.  I noticed the book: "Gray Work: Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy" by Jamie Smith has been pulled from publication. I'm not sure what that's all about without reading it, but as I understand it, Jamie Smith has a coloured history with a government background followed by contracting where his name has hit the media with a few less than glowing portrayals. Jack Murphy posted an article series here on SOFREP on a proposed JED21 program: BG Eric Wendt proposed the Green Beret Volckmann Program a few years ago:  (PDF Page 10) To me, while I liked Jack Murphy's idea in concept(as well as the Volckmann Program), I'm left wondering if we should be looking at more closely at the potential effectiveness of Quds Force/Hezbullah/PRC-PLA doctrine for our own purposes. Or maybe this article describes the outline of a Westernized/Corporatized version of that already?