Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti
|أبو أحمد الكويتي|
|Died||2 May 2011 (aged 32–33)|
|Relatives||Abrar Khan (brother)|
|Service/||Al-Qaeda central |
|Rank||Lieutenant to Osama Bin Laden|
|Battles/wars||Afghan Civil War (1996–2001)|
He was not a Kuwaiti and not an Arab, but rather he was an ethnic Pashtun and a Pakistani citizen. He adopted the last name al-Kuwaiti because his Pakistani parents lived in Kuwait. 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". 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 2 May 2011.
Arshad Khan was born in c. 1978 in Kuwait. His father's name is reported to be Naqab Khan. Al-Kuwaiti was a Pashtun who was born and grew up in Kuwait and spoke Pashto (in a cultivated, urbane 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 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He was implicated in the attacks and was contacted in the aftermath by Indonesian militant Riduan 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 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 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. Some people believed he was from Shangla (Khakhtagatta area) as followed by New York Times local reporter Sanaul Haq while following the origin of the man killed in raid along with Bin Laden namely Arshad Khan. Charsadda lies about 180 kilometres to the west, while Shangla is situated on the northern side 190 kilometres from Abbottabad in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (old name NWFP). Some locals thought that the Khan brothers had obtained their wealth from a family-owned hotel in Dubai. Al-Kuwaiti 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".
Al-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. According to the 2012 book No Easy Day by Chief Petty Officer Matt Bissonnette (under the pen name Mark Owen), al-Kuwaiti was shot and killed by Bissonnette and Petty Officer 1st Class Will Chesney (the latter was the handler of Cairo, a Belgian Shepherd and U.S. military working dog who also participated in the raid) during a short gunfight in the compound's guest house. Bissonnette was lightly injured with bullet fragments in the left shoulder while al-Kuwaiti's wife Mariam was shot and wounded in the right shoulder in the crossfire.
- 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.
- Woodward, Bob (12 May 2011). "Death of Osama bin Laden: Phone call pointed U.S. to compound – and to 'the pacer'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013.
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.
- 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.
- Mark Bowden (2012). "The death of Osama bin Laden: how the US finally got its man". The Guardian.
- "Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed, Osama Bin Laden's Associate And Trusted Confidante, Identified: NATO". HuffPost. 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.
- Memmott, Mark (4 May 2011). "Bin Laden's Courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, Had Several Responsibilities". NPR. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- "Who was the courier who led US to Osama Bin Laden?". BBC News. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2023.
- 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. Archived from the original on 8 May 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- Isikoff, Michael (2 May 2011). "Bin Laden's death rekindles 'enhanced' interrogation debate". NBC News. 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.
- Bergen, Peter (2012). Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabad. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-95588-3.
- 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". NBC News. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.