Saudi Arabia/USA: Kudos on an Exceptional Intelligence Coup

There is no doubt that the acquisition of a new generation “underwear bomb” from Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) is an intelligence coup.  The device was acquired in its entirety and in working order provided by a double agent who had penetrated AQAP at the highest of levels.

Earliest reports citing a double agent were attributed to the CIA.  Later reports indicate that the double agent was a Saudi national who under the direction of Saudi Intelligence penetrated AQAP.

Regardless, this was a well-oiled operation which undoubtedly required close cooperation between both Saudi and American intelligence organizations.

To put it very mildly, it is no small feat for an individual to get into the inner circles of AQAP, obtain highly sensitive and actionable intelligence, acquire the latest suicide bomb technology plus device and get out of the terrorist organization intact.

While I am exceptionally proud of both intelligence organizations and this exceptional coup, my question is, did the world really need to know so much about this operation?  Granted, there is much that has not been publicly disclosed but what has been publicly disclosed still poses additional risks on its own.

I applaud and take off my hat to the individual who penetrated the network and escaped with the suicide device.  That took courage, conviction and exceptional training to pull off.  However in some ways I wish it had been reported that this individual lost his life at some point rather than simply escape.  Now he and his extended family are going to among those on AQAP’s most wanted, get revenge list.

AQAP is now tipped off in part to the means and methods of intelligence operations.  They’ll be doing their own assessment and damage control, but you can be certain that at some point they’ll regroup with new methods and techniques of wreaking havoc.

I realize it is an election year for America and that both Saudi Arabia and America do like to showcase the closeness of their relationship and that the two countries remain strong allies.

What do you think?  Are you pleased to receive details about this extraordinary operation?  Do you think too many details have been released?  Would you be okay not knowing that such operations take place?  Do you think AQAP is now more or less of a threat?  Who is the greatest threat now of AQAP?  The United States or Saudi Arabia?


31 Responses

  1. Well, you forgot one important effect this announcement will most certainly have.
    That of shaken certainty of AQAP OpSec. That of mistrust of close associates at the highest levels of leadership of AQAP. That of a potential cleansing action by said leadership.
    Never underestimate shaken confidence and the psychological impact of a long running op being blown out of the water.

  2. I was shocked that it was reported at all. It seemed like that brave man just got shoved in front of a firing squad. How will he, his family, and his friends ever feel safe again? Even if he had no family, how will he ever be able to have normal relationships in the future without the fear of AQ hunting them down and torturing and killing them? Sure, America and Saudi Arabia got great publicity and all, but at what cost? How was this man’s life not considered more valuable and worthy, especially considering what he did for both countries?? It’s horrifying and shameful.

  3. I have a mixed feeling on this as I see Wzrd1 point on looking for ghost where one probably doesn’t exist. It places everyone on a level of uncertainty, suspicion, and doubt. Typically not something that an organzation does well with in order to effect the most damage. They could become paranoids, overly caution and in doing so create more problems for themselves. On the other hand, they have been tipped off so now they will be more cognitive of their associations which could hamper future sleeper operations.

    Next, since numerous Saudis actually support the terrorist activites I would suggest that the US is still the primary target and only those in Saudi who are in the way of the terrorist and against them may be in jeopardy but they are a secondary concern. However, the dicotomy on this is that the terrorist often times causes more damage to their own either intentional or unintentional than to the intended target. So that question can be tricky to answer.

  4. bigstick, I personally know QUITE well, a Saudi, who HATES terrorists. As I’ve also met MANY of his friends and his family’s friends, who ALL hate terrorists, either I”m BEYOND gullible after over 27 years of uniformed service in operations other than war OR your view is rather oversensitive.
    As one who shoots first and asks forgiveness far later, I humbly suggest you are oversensitive.
    I’ll give you a hint, I’m first amendment first, second amendment first, third amendment first, an absurdium.
    In short, I DEMAND we accept our own constitution. Period, end of story. Nuke the rest, if they persist to the point of extinction. Let THEY become extinct.
    That said, I ALSO recognize our OWN failures and DEMAND our repair of them, lest we have unfortunate issues later.
    I also recognize foreign sovereignty, so that OTHER nations may choose THEIR paths, rather than Big Brother or Little Sister or anything else untoward to free will.
    If WE insist OTHER nations do a certain thing, we abandon AMENDMENTS.
    An example, our second amendment is gone, NO firearms for the populace, as one Japanese student was shot dead on a certain state.
    Do we abandon our constitution? If in that amendment, we abandon ALL rights and amendments, as amendments are equal in light OF the constitution.

    Oh, I know! ONLY certain people have “the view” or something. Good thing, as I HATE that cackling hen program! 😉
    Love REAL women’s views, hate that crowd, as they’d inevitably tend to peck each other’s fathers off, if they had them…
    Not that I want to hear the damned rooster cry either!

  5. Wzrd:

    I never said all. I stated numerous and that those Saudis who get in the way may be targeted.

    However, it is well documented that terrorist organizations are being well funded from Saudi so to say otherwise is to stick your head in the sand. I will leave the rest of your ranting alone as it is not worth addressing.

  6. Never said all either.
    That said, I ALSO know of QUITE a few cases where religious police ended up beaten, tied up and dumped into the desert.
    That I’ve eaten with a dozen Saudi citizens and a handful of Bedouin, I’ll simply suggest that the MASSIVE citizenry isn’t QUITE as terrorist protecting or supporting.
    Though, if you apply your SUGGESTED consideration, one MUST apply the same in converse.
    In short, the US supports ONLY White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Or something…
    I’ll NOT go into the current GOP campaign, as THAT is more corporate…

  7. Praise the Lord. Let me state upfront that I do not support the use of deception. However, that having been said, I don’t believe we have to tell all either. And I did have a sense of TMI with regard to these reports. It seemed to me that they could be putting the person in harm’s way, and jeopardizing future operations. I really wonder whose idea it was to publish this info. Was that their intent?

  8. I think it being an election year has a lot to do with what gets told…and what happens. Gas prices miraculously going DOWN in time for summer holiday season? I like it, but it’s not usual, is it?

  9. If this was a legitimate intelligence operation, nobody, especially the enemy, needs to know what actually happened and what agents were involved. If this information did come out as the result of an unauthorized leak, look at the White House that is in full campaign mode.

    And will no doubt set up any scenario to give the re-election crew the opportunity to “spike the football” and claim that if it were not for their candidate, the plot would not have failed, and that airliners would be getting blown out of the skies all over the place.

    Robert Grenier Former CIA counter terror director hit the nail right on the head: The Americans are doing a very good job of undermining trust, and the problem starts at the top. Any information disclosed is too much information. This does seem to be a tawdry political thing.

    Also, spy agencies are coming out of the woodworks to claim credit. Besides the CIA, saudi Al-Mukhabarat/GIP, and M-15/M-16, there is a long line of others trying to take credit: Mossad, RAW, ISI, BKN, etc.

    I think it was JFK who paraphrased an old saying: Victory has hundred fathers. Defeat is an orphan :)-

  10. I guess we can look at it a few ways.

    Election year means show the people something is happening.
    Give info like this to ensure that the American public remain frightened and insecure thus enabling the gov’t to carry on spending military $$$.
    Give the info first because some investigative reporting is going to find and use the data anyway.

    Personally I find there is way to much reporting on many issues. Giving full details only gives criminals and criminal ‘wannabes’ more info on how to go about ‘doing it.’ It’s an information generation though so I suppose I’d rather have all the info rather than none at all but we can be sure we are not getting all the info.

  11. Praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this is how you combat terrorism: with intelligence. Not with armies invading foreign countries and then have no idea what to do and make a mess of it.

  12. Yeah, Aafke-Art, suppression of terrorists in their base of operations is totally ineffective. We need to go to TOTAL long range, mult-decade intelligence operations.
    And simply accept the rain of burning aircraft parts until the operations come to fruition.

  13. @wzrd1…you mentioned that you
    ” personally know QUITE well, a Saudi, who HATES terrorists. As I’ve also met MANY of his friends and his family’s friends, who ALL hate terrorists”
    …The great country of america is the epitome of the word your “saudi friend” is probably referring to the hate he has for yourself and all the others who support pointless wars and countless civillian massacring under the banner of “saving these poor old people from themselves” ..have you read the sickening “counter jihad presentation” that was leaked recently, claiming that in fact american is at war with Islam and not terrorists..Many great muslim scholars such as awlaki were warning people for years of such things and he was only wonder they killed him he was only telling the truth and warning others against it.

  14. jundub1404, so you think that he hated Americans as terrorists? So, THAT is why I played with his children, babysat them, was in his home with his wife not in hijab and dined with his entire family?
    Those “great muslim scholars” that ended up killed weren’t warning, they were planning attacks against civilians. Not against a government, but against women and children. If THAT is a great scholar, Islamic scholastic institutions have fallen far below what European scholastic institutions did during the dark ages!
    Why don’t you tell my cousin’s family that he died in an anti-terror attack, the one against the great terror center of the World Trade Center? Why don’t you explain how your “brave freedom fighters” bravely hide behind women and children while firing at US soldiers? Where in the Quran does it teach to spray acid onto women and children’s faces for attending school?
    Where is the military action against Indonesia, since that is overwhelmingly Muslim? Where is the war on Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Turkey and Oman, since this is a religious war? When did the US begin the invasion of Morocco?

    Has the US government performed despicable acts? Absolutely. Have other governments done so as well? Absolutely.
    There aren’t any saints, but there are plenty of sinners.
    But, one difference is, the US goes against leaders that either attack US interests/citizens/properties, the other folks attack civilians as primary targets.
    Do innocent civilians get hurt in war? Yes, ever since the first two groups of men picked up rocks as weapons of war that has been so. The key is, when civilians are considered valid targets and when they’re unintended casualties.
    So, let’s review primary tactics for both sides today and for the past decade:
    The US forces will enter a building and search it for someone who is shooting at them or planting bombs. Munitions will be the most precise possible for any suppression of heavy fire.
    The other side rams airplanes into office buildings that are civilian, with women and children on the airplanes and inside of the buildings. The other side bombs markets full of women.
    Both sides use torture, so overall, they’re not THAT far apart…
    But, it was an Islamic nation that held OBL’s wives and children incognito, after OBL was killed. They weren’t attacked, tortured or taken prisoner by US forces. They were held by Pakistan, even though no nation on this Earth considered them a threat and only now are they permitted to travel to Saudi.

  15. jundub1404, on May 13, 2012 at 6:06 am said: …. have you read the sickening “counter jihad presentation” that was leaked recently, claiming that in fact american is at war with Islam and not terrorists ..

    Sickening “counter jihad presentation”, you say? I didn’t find it sickening at all. On the contrary, I personally found it refreshing, truthful, and educational. Sounds to me as if the instructor (Col. Dooley) has all his ducks in a row! His course should be reinstated ASAP, and upgraded from optional to compulsory!

    First of all, I consider islam a psychotic cult. No different than other isms like nazisms, communisms, socialisms. Islam has 14-centuries of a lousy track record. How much more evidence does one need that Islam is “extreme” when it comes to:

    How it classifies non-muslims and mandates that muslims treat non-muslims, whether monotheists, polytheist, animist, etc. Murdering infidels is an expression of “religious devotion” in islam. As is subjugating, enslaving and/or forcing their conversion to Islam. As is discriminating and oppressing those who have been forced to submit to the “peace, tolerance, justice, and fairness” of Islam.

    Islamic doctrines make that crystal clear; these are all “good deeds” in the way of allah. Why is it that some of the most devout yet pseudo scholars of Islam (Osama, Awlaki et al), people who have dedicated their lives to its study and belief and value system, call for murdering non-muslims, call for their subjugation, even their enslavement and their forced conversion, per Islam’s doctrines.

    It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots. For that matter, geniuses often can’t see the forest for the trees. So in my book, the “counter jihad” presentations were teaching only the Truth and nothing but the TRUTH, to our future military leaders!

    Reminds me of a great quote from the brilliant film ‘Pure Country’, by the character Earnest Tucker:

    ”The funny thing about that little white speck on the top of chicken s*** … is that’s chicken s*** too” :)-

  16. jundub1404, on May 13, 2012 at 6:06 am said: … Many great muslim scholars such as awlaki were warning people for years of such things and he was only ridiculed .. no wonder they killed him he was only telling the truth and warning others against it ….

    And oh yes. How about that mega-terrorist, Awlaki, that you seem to admire as a “great muslim scholar”?

    Now that we have idiotically pulled the plug on “objectionable, against our values and non-academically sound” courses in the Defense Department, how about “moderate” muslims and their scholars pulling the plug on violent, misogynistic and pedophiliac verses in their “noble” Koran (re-written in it’s entirety by Hilaly/Khan) and the hadith (re-written in it’s entirety by Osama/Awlaki et al)?

    Quid pro quo, jundub1404? Or will it be just more Silence of the Lambs? I won’t be holding our collective breath on this one …..

    Yes, a few smiling Muslims from CAIR, ISNA and other useful idiots make the islamophiliacs and others in the west all but forget about all the activities of muslim luminaries. Such as:

    Osama/Awlaki et al … The Master Terrorists and the “great scholars” of islam. Naser Abdo, the would-be second Fort Hood jihad mass murderer. And Khalid Aldawsari, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Lubbock, Texas. And Muhammad Hussain, the would-be jihad bomber in Baltimore. And Mohamed Mohamud, the would-be jihad bomber in Portland.

    And Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square jihad mass-murderer. And Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the Arkansas military recruiting station jihad murderer. And Naveed Haq, the jihad mass murderer at the Jewish Community Center in Seattle.

    And Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. And Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh, who hatched a jihad plot to blow up a Manhattan synagogue. And Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas airplane jihad bomber. And the jihadist list goes on and on and on …

    And many many others like them who have plotted and/or committed mass murders in the name of Islam and motivated by its texts and teachings. All in the US — just in the last couple of years. And 18,875 muslim terrorist attacks around the world since 9/11, including muslim-on-muslim violence!

    Whadya say, jundub1404????

  17. I just posted about a book “Attack” on the ‘punishment’ topic but I probably should have posted here.

  18. Abe, I have to object to classifying socialism as evil. It’s an absolutely perfect system of total equality.
    Regrettably, there are no perfect PEOPLE to go along with it.
    But, it works quite well with ants and bees. 😉
    Now, if you were to say Libertarianism as evil, I’d have to go along.

  19. How odd that saudi and usa have some thing in common .

    Well there need to be such bombings both in these countries kiling amreicans and kiling the royals of saudi !!

    You deserve this !!

  20. So, abab, you believe that civilians should be attacked because of the actions you disagree with by their governments?
    Perhaps we should’ve followed the tea party suggestion for dealing with 9/11. Nuke Mecca.
    That is in the same rationale you speak from.
    Try speaking like a civilized person, not a bint haram ibn Iblis.

  21. Re: The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

    I read this excellent thriller when it first came out 4-5 yrs ago. It is one of those books that one cannot put down w/o first sneaking a quick peak at the very last chapter :)-

    Couple of years ago, I saw a reality-based DocuDrama around the same subject of palestinian female suicide bombers. The film, To Die in Jerusalem, takes a very high visibility terror attack and follows the tale of two mothers, one palestinian and the other israeli.

    It catches the real life melodrama of Israeli victim mom’s attempts to create something progressive from the tragedy by outreaching to the female suicide bomber/culprit’s mom. Here is the link to the movie. It’s a tear-jerker. So have some kleenex handy ….

  22. Abe, I’ve been tempted to read the end of the book, but never did. I far prefer to ascertain where the author (or his guided characters) are moving toward and anticipate them.
    I’m rather good at it, both in books and in the far more complex world.
    As one example of real life things in that view, when both of our children were “on the way”, we didn’t inquire as to the sex (OK, on the first, WE didn’t, on the second, my wife did and was wrongly informed).
    Seeing the end before the end ruins the journey many times. The journey is, quite often, more important in experience than the ending.
    Lest one accept the message, one is born, one dies, the rest is unimportant.

    As for the movie you recommended, I’ve personally met people on BOTH sides of such events and in a few cases, both parents knowing the perp and victim as parent. It’s VERY ungood, more tear jerking than any movie that’d EVER be seen in the US, as the good guy always has to win. The reality is, the good guy may well be respected by all, but totally lose overall…
    And on rare occasions, win in the long run. Very rare occasions. :/

  23. to answer you long drawn out response.
    “so you think that he hated Americans as terrorists?” Yes.
    “So, THAT is why I played with his children, babysat them, was in his home with his wife not in hijab and dined with his entire family?”..don’t care…..sounds like a funny kinda saudi to me if he lets you see his wife without hijab..enough said.
    “Why don’t you tell my cousin’s family that he died in an anti-terror attack, the one against the great terror center of the World Trade Center? “…Explain how young saudi men even obtained the planes that hit the WTC’s..hmm a little help from you government right..well to that i say..ask your government to explain to your cousins family what the hell really happened.
    “Why don’t you explain how your “brave freedom fighters” bravely hide behind women and children while firing at US soldiers?”..No practising muslim would ever do must be mistaken with the cowards of the US army who wait till night falls and then pounce on a village filled with children and women killing them all..Robert Bales ring a bell?
    “Where in the Quran does it teach to spray acid onto women and children’s faces for attending school? ” No were..go read it properly.
    “Has the US government performed despicable acts?” Absolutely…good to know u have a brain
    “Have other governments done so as well? Absolutely”…agreed
    “There aren’t any saints, but there are plenty of sinners.”..true
    “But, one difference is, the US goes against leaders that either attack US interests/citizens/properties, the other folks attack civilians as primary targets”….OPEN URE EYES fool
    “But, it was an Islamic nation that held OBL’s wives and children incognito, after OBL was killed”…well if you know anything about Islamic countries.there are no 100% islamically run countries..yes there are muslim countries..but at the end of the day pakistan works closely with america just to get some cash end of story.
    “They weren’t attacked, tortured or taken prisoner by US forces”…wow thats a first.

  24. Honest Abe – I really enjoyed the documentary and found it very eye-opening.

  25. jundub, it is interesting how something complimentary gets twisted into something else by you, regarding what I said of that Saudi man and his family. Rather than accept that we were accepted as family by his family, you turn it into a slight against him.
    There are plenty of videos where Iraqi insurgents were hiding behind women and children, indeed, Al Jazeera also filmed and aired those incidents. As Al Jazeera also aired Afghan girls being burned by acid for going to school.
    Robert Bales, the man who is in prison awaiting court martial for the very crimes you claim are supported by the prosecuting government? If the US Army supported the murder of women and children, they’d most certainly not have arrested him and charged him for the multiple murders.
    It’s been my experience that the one who decries another as a fool typically is the one behaving like a fool. I’ve BEEN in Afghanistan, I know quite well what happened, where and when. Something about being in the US Army and all. But, again, you seem to know more than those who were there fighting, even IF what you claim are normal acts, which are being prosecuted, didn’t happen, other than in the criminal cases that made the news.
    All I hear from you is Islamist propaganda that fails all factual reporting, of which there is plenty available dispelling your nonsense.

  26. “I really enjoyed the documentary and found it very eye-opening”

    Hi Carol, glad you enjoyed it. Check your email, just emailed you about half a dozen other documentary websites!!!

  27. I’m in doc-u-link heaven! Thanks!

  28. Please, share them around! I’m a docu-junkie myself. If I’m REAL lucky, I’ll get to view some of them today with only a few interruptions. :/

  29. wzrd1 , you really are harami ibn harami shaitan . amareica has innocents? who support their govt in every atack the govt that gives their tax money to israle to kill inocent parestinians ..

    muslims are second largest in number and yes pakistan too has nukes.. well america or its any shaitan willl not even dream of doing that .

    Seriously not a single amrerican ever stood agaisnt the terrorist government of america

  30. abab, yes, we are very very evil here. Tell all your people never to step foot over here or we might eat you for lunch. you’ve been warned.


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