Meet the Agent Who Found bin Laden

The story of the unsung CIA man who hunted the leader for a decade
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2011 7:29 AM CDT
US officials receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the White HouseSituation Room. Hidden just outside the frame was a career CIA analyst who found the al-Qaeda leader.   (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza/file)

(Newser) – By now, you’ve seen the photo of Obama administration brass awaiting word of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. What you haven’t seen is the CIA agent standing just outside the frame, a man the AP identifies only as “John.” He spent years doggedly chasing leads on bin Laden, refusing promotions so he could continue the hunt. One CIA boss says he didn’t even know John’s exact job. “I knew he was the guy in the room I always listened to.”

John’s team tirelessly worked its list of potential bin Laden associates. “He’s there somewhere. We’ll get there,” a colleague recalls him saying. Eventually he became convinced that courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti would lead them to bin Laden, and argued the point to Leon Panetta. Soon after they found the Abbottabad complex, but even after months of surveillance, they couldn’t confirm bin Laden was within. John told Panetta the intelligence wouldn’t improve, and this chance wouldn’t last forever—the precise argument Panetta took to the president.

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