How Osama Bin Laden was Tracked, Technically

osama-trackedU.S. secret agencies had been gathering information from people in Bin Laden’s circle. One of the major advances was made by retrieving information about his personal couriers. After few attacks, detainees gave the secret agencies information on couriers. By 2009, a little actual progress was made as they identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated.

In August 2010, they found their home in Abbottabad, a suburb which is less than 40 miles from the Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Everything about Osama’s compound was extraordinarily unique which brought more and more attention. It was not just 8 times larger than the other homes in the area, it had a lot of physical security in place with 12 to 18 feet walls, guarded by two giant security gates.

Strangely enough, there was barely any communication between this compound and the outer world. There were little to no social activity and had strange forensics. It preferred burning its trash, and there were no open windows for fresh air to come in. Despite the gigantic and costly architecture, it had no means of communications: No internet, no phones.

The secret agencies and the army had no concrete proof, but everything leaded to the same conclusion. No one could afford and match the semantics of this place other than the man himself. Whole of this information was not shared with anyone, and was limited to a small group of people, which made the attack possible.

Background Intelligence (Technology Used to Track Osama)

All of this has a longer history. Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC had been in command for years trying to find tits and bits of information and compile them into something more concrete.

The way JSOC solved this problem still remains a top secret, but it is said that commandos learned basic criminal forensic techniques and then used highly advanced and still-classified technology to transform bits of information into actionable intelligence. One way they did this was to create forward-deployed fusion cells, where JSOC units were paired with intelligence analysts from the NSA and the NGA. Such analysis helped the CIA to establish, with a high degree of probability, that Osama bin Laden and his family were hiding in that particular compound.

These technicians could “exploit and analyze” data obtained from the battlefield instantly, using their access to the government’s various biometric, facial-recognition, and voice-print databases. These cells also used highly advanced surveillance technology and computer-based pattern analysis to layer predictive models of insurgent behavior onto real-time observations.

The military has begun to incorporate such techniques across the services and improvements are on their way in areas where intelligence is gathered, analyzed, and utilized.

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