|Interpol: Killing Osama Bin Laden Result of US and its counterparts worldwide gathering and sharing of intelligence LYON, France - INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has congratulated the US and its counterparts worldwide for the gathering and sharing of intelligence that permitted the US to locate Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, and to launch a targeted operation to bring him to justice - an operation that resulted in his killing by US special forces.|
|EnCase Forensic Platform is one of Bin Laden Task Force ToolsEnCase® Decryption Suite (EDS)Search and collect evidence from encrypted volumes, drives, and files.Fastbloc® SE (Software Edition)Fastbloc SE is a write-blocking software solution for acquisitions of USB, FireWire, IDE, and SCSI media..|
EnCase® Smartphone Examiner.Smartphones are everywhere. The evidence they hold can be the key to a successful investigation outcome; if you have a way to acquire it.With the new EnCase® Smartphone Examiner app, critical evidence on smartphones can be easily acquired.EnCase® Smartphone Examiner enables an investigator to capture evidence from devices that use:• Apple iOS • HP Palm OS • Windows Mobile OS• Google Android OS • RIM Blackberry OS.In addition, investigators can acquire data from Blackberry and iTunes backup files as well as a multitude of SD cards.
|Finding treasures in Bin Laden computersWhile government officials aren't exactly sharing details about their approach, McLaughlin believes that they'll be using Guidance Software's EnCase utility, arguably the market leader in forensics analysis. "They're making copies of all the evidence," he says. "Then they'll parcel out the work to the different examiners. You'll undelete everything you can. If there's any encryption you have to deal with, you'll handle it."|
|Source: 2.7 terabytes of data recovered from bin Laden compoundA law enforcement source tells CBS News that 2.7 terabytes of data were recovered from the laptops, computers, hard drives and other storage devices seized from the bin Laden compound. It's unclear whether all of the 2.7 terabytes are original files or if there are multiple copies of files. To put the amount of data recovered in perspective, just one terabyte of data could hold about 2,000 hours of audio or 220 million pages of text.|
Intelligence officials have not said how they are analyzing the data, but a DOD computer forensic analyst who works on computers captured on the battlefield tells CBS News forensic analysts are most likely using search indexing tools and software to rapidly analyze seized electronic devices to locate information of interest to the intelligence committee
Sources said much of the material seized in the daring raid was encrypted so the messages could not be read if they were intercepted.
Among the material confiscated was al Qaida propaganda material including al Qaida messaging strategies to inspire and recruit new Jihadists. There is some indication that bin Laden was continuing to develop his strategy to utilize homegrown operatives that were intimately famiilar with the countries in which they lived. There was also material on current events, in an apparent effort to keep bin Laden abreast on news from around the world.
The compound did not appear to have been used as a nerve center or a command and control post, but analysts are looking further to determine the extent of bin Laden's involvement in day to day decisions and long-term strategy.
The first priority, sources tell CBS News, is for analysts to determine if the mother-lode of data contains any actionable plots in the works against the U.S. and western interests. Analysts will also seek to identify any al Qaida operatives or extremists in the United States or elsewhere.
A good portion of the material is being analyzed at CIA headquarters at Langley and at other intelligence community at sites around the world.
Another top priority for analysts is to search for evidence of a connection between al Qaida and al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in particular links between bin Laden and AQAP's leader Anwar al awlaqi, living in Yemen, and Nasir al-Wahishi, AQAP's operational leader.
Digital forensic and evidence recovery specialists were part of the raid team---springing into action after the compound was secured. The team had to rapidly preserve everything, freezing everything on computers so that it didn't get wiped out. The recovery specialists had to be particularly careful before they unplugged the computers not to trigger software programs designed to destroy hard drives or delete data that may have been installed by bin Laden's people as protection.
"The trick was to get it out fast but to preserve everything, a source said, "for intelligence purposes first but also for evidence for possible prosecutions,'' of terrorists.
Sources say it could take weeks or months to get a handle on what the U.S. has and what the value of it is.
|Statement from the NGA Director on the death of Osama bin Ladin - May 2, 2011We at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are honored to be public servants during this singularly profound moment in our nation’s history – delivering Osama bin Ladin to his just end. |
NGA applied a range of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) capabilities including imagery, geospatial and targeting analysis, along with image sciences and modeling that, supplemented with work from the CIA and NSA, allowed the United States to carry out this operation, making bin Ladin pay for the crimes that he committed and the hatred he inflamed within al-Qa’ida.
The employees of NGA have worked behind the scenes for more than a decade – committed to finding bin Ladin – providing crucial geospatial intelligence for our war fighters and nation’s decision makers.
I am extremely proud of the work that NGA men and women have done that led directly to this outcome. Their GEOINT was critical to helping the intelligence community pinpoint bin Ladin’s compound.
We still have work to do. To our partners in the fight, we will continue to provide our geospatial intelligence for the nation’s most pressing security threats. To the American people, know that we will never stop looking for actors who seek to harm our people and our way of life. In the days that follow, we need to prepare for a possible response from our enemies. We must remain vigilant – knowing that this victory, while monumental, is but one among many that must be made in the fight that we will continue to wage against radical extremists.
Letitia A. Long (NGA)
|US National Security Information Operations: Obama’s Bin Laden Kill Sets Precedentby John Stanton|
According to the Army Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare, September 2008, “Information is a strategic resource vital to national security. Dominance of the information environment is a reality that extends to the armed forces of the United States at all levels. Military operations, in particular, are dependent upon many simultaneous and integrated activities that, in turn, depend upon information and information systems, which the United States must protect…With the free flow of information present in all theaters, such as TV, phone, and Internet, conflicting messages can quickly emerge to defeat the intended effects. As a result, continuous synchronization and coordination between Information Operations, Public Affairs, Public Diplomacy, and U.S. allies is imperative. It also helps to ensure that information themes employed during operations involving neutral or friendly populations remain consistent.”
In short, the media in all its forms—mass, blog, social, print, electronic, spoken word—is a physical element to be accounted for in national security operations just like the weather or inhospitable geographic terrain. And that means citizen consumers of information are absorbing content from providers who are accounted for and manipulated by national security commanders (civilian and military) in planning and executing operations.
Shaping the information environment means targeting the media not with violence but with logrolling techniques, trial balloons, trades/leaks, etc. The main stream media (MSM) is the focus of these efforts as the population/culture largely looks to the MSM for guidance on how to dress, think, travel, eat, listen, watch and speak. The Combatant Commands and the US Department of Defense News Services assist in shaping the consciousness of the nation as well.
I Shot Bin Laden, But I Didn’t Shoot the Deputy
The National Security Operation approved by US President Barak Obama that ended Osama Bin Laden’s was a gem in terms of Military Information Support Operations (though it should be renamed National Security Information Operations). Planning included meeting with editors of US publications like The New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. CNN and FOX, and select allies, were likely briefed as well. These outlets transmit the voices and thoughts of those who take the country to war, set economic policy, and decide whether a Broadway play succeeds or fails.Even though the original version of the Bin Laden story continues to crumble/change, it was wildly successful in stimulating US nationalism through the media’s constant repetition of the matter. Even Hezbollah’s website Al Manar carried wires stories from AP on Bin Laden’s ignominious demise. But it is far too early for anyone to speculate what the fallout will be from the targeted killing of Bin Laden and the use of the media to exploit his death and humiliate Pakistan. Kristen Eichensehr’s Assassination Policy Under International Law--in the May 2006 issue of Harvard International Review-- cautions against the celebratory madness seen in the USA after Bin Laden’s death. It reminds that retribution against US leaders should not be unexpected.“Publicized US employment of targeted killings in the war on terror made a return to the previous era of credible moral superiority in rhetoric impossible. The preferable alternative to targeted killing of enemies should always be arrest and trial, but in cases where those alternative measures are not available, targeted killing may be the next best alternative. However, careful calculation of the risks and benefits of employing the policy must be weighed before it is implemented. The threat of reciprocity and repercussions for society are serious considerations that are often not given enough weight, and the policy should be re-examined continually to evaluate its effectiveness in decreasing the threat to the employing state's citizens. In some instances, targeted killings are both legal and effective, but for societies founded on principles of human rights, they should never be the first choice.”Higher on the list of tasks for the Navy Seals, than terminating Bin Laden, was to gather information/intelligence from Bin Laden’s hideout that would allow further exploitation and shaping of the domestic and global information terrain; and, hence, public consciousness on matters of national security. Indeed, much appears to have been collected by the pickers on the Navy Seal Teams (designated shooters and pickers of information) in the form of hard drives and other electronic/print media.This has provided the National Security System, led by President Obama, to “do a Wikileaks.” Over the coming months (and years?) bits and bytes of Bin Laden’s operation will be given to, or leaked to, favored media outlets. The Hollywood liaison offices at the Pentagon and elsewhere will be busy working with script writers for the Bin Laden story to further shape the information environment via the movie screen.
Cry Havoc! Let Loose the Electrons and Photons of War
Like their US counterparts in the national security machinery, The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has similar views on the importance of media exploitation. They are savvy too.
“Wars today cannot be won without media. Media is directed to the heart rather than the body. The weapon is directed to the body. If the heart is defeated the battle is won and the body is defeated. In the beginning, with the fall of the Islamic Emirate, the enemy thought that the field was completely open before them, and they spread their lies and falsehoods that they had destroyed the Islamic Emirate and its Mujahideen and that their victory in the land of Afghanistan was complete. All of their resources, especially their media were directed towards changing the ideas of Afghans and injecting defeatist thought into them and instilling in them a petrifying fear of the new occupiers. First through the grace of Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, then through the victories of the Mujahideen and their rightly guided leadership; and after defeats were inflicted on the enemy on the field of battle, a media committee was established to contest with the enemy in the (media) field.Among other committees, the Islamic Emirates established a special Media Committee to spread news about Jihadist activities in different fields and chase away the voice of the unjust enemy who, before the entire world, was distorting the image of the Jihad in Afghanistan and was claiming false victories here and there over the Mujahideen. Need called for the existence of a media agency to take responsibility for the Mujahideen in Afghanistan; speaking on behalf of the Islamic Emirate; delivering news of its victories on the battlefield to its friends and to the world; exposing the falsehood of its enemies and their media; responding to the claims and its daily changing deceptions; and delivering to the world the voice of truth and jihad and its point of view about current Jihadist events in the land of Afghanistan.Our website specializes in conveying field reports from the combat zones and publishing the statements of the Ameer ul-Momineen and the statements of the Command Shura Council about different issues pertaining to Jihad, in addition to articles and official analysis. They have many sections: for example there’s an Islam page, a magazines page, and a page for films produced by official studios. We also print magazines and statements and distribute them in popular circles at home and abroad. Additionally, we produce different publications and regulations and distribute them among the Mujahideen. There is also a “Voice of Shari’ah” that broadcasts news and official statements day and night.”
Civil and Military Become One, Media a Tool
It now seems ridiculous to use the term “military operations” since the lines differentiating civilian and military practice have long since ceased to exist. The only notable difference between civilian and the military is in the clothing; one sports a Brooks Brothers business suit, the other military gear adorned with awards. At any rate, President Barak Obama implied as much in his National Security Strategy of the USA. As a matter of policy, America has gone “beyond traditional distinctions” indicating that America’s homeland defense, commercial activities and military operations have all fused together to defeat terrorists, drug lords, the black market, et al. The moniker selected for this is “Whole of Government, Whole of Nation” effort which the world will hear more of in the coming months and years.
Better now to think of the USA as a National Security System. National Security Operations are conducted on either the strategic or tactical level using any one or all of the USA’s instruments of national power as excellently defined by the US Army’s Unconventional Warfare manual cited above. Those elements of power are diplomatic, information, military, economic, intelligence, law enforcement, and financial. So, where to turn to for the news? How to differentiate between news content of Al Manar (Hezbollah) and the New York Times? How to know whether the Washington Post or Press TV (Iran) has the right angle on the story? The “bad guys” at those publications are carrying items off the AP, Reuters’ wires. They report on floods in the US Midwest like their US counterparts. Al Manar is a huge fan of NBA basketball and LeBron James. And what to make of the reporting style of Xinhua (China) or the Daily Star (Lebanon)?
The US Army Special Forces document cited above outlines the dangers of a centralized media. The hazards are real, the battlefield is everywhere now, and the mind, or heart, is the target.
Conspiracy Theorists: Take a Hike!
Understanding the operation of the National Security System is not hard if one is an educated information consumer, a student of the information terrain cognizant of the doctrines used by those who manipulate and attempt to shape individual and collective thought. Marketers selling soda and beer use techniques that are similar. Before forming opinions based on information provided by the media be it Fox News, Press TV, Al Manar, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post, beware the hazards of National Security Operations.Hazards of centralized mass media include the following: 1.) A disproportion of power occurs and disproportionate informational power accrues to those who control centralized mass media; arguably, it is inherently undemocratic. 2.) An inability to transmit tacit knowledge; the context of content presented must either be explicitly explained or is assumed to be understood by the receiver. 3.) An inclination to focus on the unusual and sensational to capture the receivers’ attention, leading to a distortion and trivialization of reality. 4.) The deliberate promotion of emotions such as anxiety, fear, or greed can be used to sell a particular agenda. 5.) An inability to deal with complex issues because of time and economic constraints leads to simplification, further distorting and trivializing reality.
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Bin Laden's 'treasure trove' of data could be tough to crackEncryption could make it unreadable, but SEALs were prepared, experts say|
As investigators examine what U.S. official have called a treasure trove of data retrieved from Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, security experts are speculating about whether some of the data will be unreadable.
During the May 1 raid in which bin Laden was killed, Navy SEALs carried off five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 portable storage devices, such as DVDs and flash drives, along with paper documents, according to a number of reports.
The devices likely contain a lot of information, since bin Laden’s compound was not connected to the Internet and those USB thumb drives and DVDs contained his communications. But officials haven’t said whether, or how well, the electronics devices were encrypted.
Investigators quickly found evidence that al Qaeda had considered — but apparently not followed up on — a rail attack on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a report by Reuters, although they didn’t specify where that information was stored. If could have been on paper or on an unencrypted device.
If the information on some of the hard drives and storage devices was encrypted well, it might never be retrieved, reported Security News Daily.
"Correctly implemented encryption is very difficult to break," Steve Santorelli of security research group Team Cymru, told SecurityNewsDaily. He described breaking it as a “huge, huge challenge.”
But retrieving data was likely a key part of the operation, which could increase the likelihood that data could be read, Greg Hoglund, CEO of HBGary, toldInformationWeek.
Hogland said the military uses a technique called battlefield exploitation to extract data in the field. A part of the process is to try to extract data while a computer or drive is running, which makes it easier, according to the InformationWeek article. Even an encrypted drive can be accessed if it’s running, he said.
|What was on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?Investigators pore over a 'mother lode' of data on hard drives, flash drives and other devices|
The assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan uncovered what one U.S. official called “the mother lode of intelligence,” in the form of hard drives, thumb drives and paper records.
During the raid, Navy SEALs collected five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 portable storage devices, such as DVDs and flash drives, along with paper documents, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“They cleaned it out,” one official told Politico. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?”
Hundreds of investigators were poring over the data in Afghanistan to see what was usable. “It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” an official told Politico.
One question could have to do with how current the information is. Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, where Navy SEALs killed him in the May 1 raid, was not connected to the Internet and did not have phone lines.
Investigators also might have to deal with trying to crack encryption on the files. Although there has been no word on whether bin Laden’s files were encrypted, terrorist groups reportedly have developed encryption software, according to ThreatPost.
|Bin Laden could run but ultimately not hide from technologyAlthough the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed happened suddenly and dramatically, it followed years of mundane analysis, sifting through mountains of data and tracking down even the tiniest lead.|
That he was able to remain hidden for so long from the concentrated efforts of the most powerful nation in the world shows the limits of technology if someone is willing to live off the grid.
By most accounts, bin Laden didn’t leave the compound he was found inside for more than six years, and he maintained a low technology profile. In fact, one major clue that he was there at all was the lack of Internet and phone service running into his multimillion-dollar fortress. Presumably someone who could afford such a place could afford basic Internet service.
Bin Laden likely figured that if an Internet connection was present inside his compound, the CIA would tap in and monitor that traffic. No amount of scrambling or passwords could have stopped us. In any war that involves technology, the United States carries the biggest stick. So instead, the terrorist-in-chief chose not to fight on our terms, which made him suspicious in the long run.
In a way, he might have done a better job of camouflaging his presence if he had set up Internet access. Perhaps he could have built a Facebook page centered on Pakistani marriage traditions, or a bird-watching society, or almost anything that could act as a honey pot network to throw off those who eventually would be watching.
There was some technology inside the compound, but nothing we could snoop on. Looking at the newly released home movies of bin Laden watching himself on TV, I’m struck by the fact my college dorm room had a better AV setup, and it was pretty crappy. Flash drives and computers were found inside the compound, but any data was apparently transported outside via sneaker net, sending couriers to deliver plans and messages to the world. It may seem like an odd mix of low- and high-tech, but it kept us in the dark for a long time.
I was shocked to learn that President Barack Obama was only "about 55 percent sure" that bin Laden was inside the compound before the raid. In fact, the president said in a recent interview that there was a possibility that some eccentric millionaire prince from Dubai would be found instead. That, of course, would have caused a lot of trouble for us internationally, conducting a military operation on foreign soil and not getting our man. But with our technology taken out of the picture, there was just no way to be sure.
Once the man who we thought was bin Laden was killed, we could again bring our technology to bear to make sure we hadn’t slain a look-alike or some unfortunate person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although DNA matching gave the perfect match in time, the on-the-spot technology used was actually facial recognition.
Biometrics is a science that has really come into its own in recent years. Computers can tell fairly easily if the photo you take of someone is the same as a photo lifted from an online site, a TV news broadcast or even a photo of the same person from years ago.
Want to see it in action? Check out this amazing demo provided by Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition. Just point the demo at two photographs sitting anywhere online, and the software will tell you whether they are the same person. I tested this with old photos of myself versus a recent one where I was in a Halloween costume and makeup, and the software wasn’t fooled. Something like this gave the Navy SEALs the ability to confirm they had gotten the right guy.
Bin Laden stayed out of technology’s spotlight and off the grid, and it helped him survive for many years on the run. Had he ceased all his terrorist activities, we might never have found him. But eventually tiny cracks in his façade came to light through his continuing activities, and nameless analysts following leads found his compound tucked away deep inside a nation that was supposed to be helping us look for him.
In the end, if bin Laden wouldn't come to the technology grid, U.S. forces had little choice but to bring the grid back to him.
|Osama bin Laden's technologies uncoveredOfficials sift through fugitive's technological belongings |
Shortly after the government decided not to show a photo of Osama bin Laden dead, five videos found in the Pakistani compound were released to the public. These films are just a glint of the hundreds of technological treasures discovered by U.S.forces. Now the question is what will be done with the rest of the findings from the hideout?
American intelligence wants to know who bin Laden was talking to, what he was reading or watching, what he was thinking and what he didn't want us to know, reports Michael Tanji of Wired.com’s Danger Room.
Another important element is to determine how technologically sophisticated bin Laden's team is based on software and file formats such as extensions from engineering or computer-aided design and manufacturing programs, the article states.
One of the released videos shows bin Laden looking cold and feeble and watching himself on television. “This is someone who realized that the image he conveyed was the main value he had to his movement,” former CIA analyst Paul Pillar told ABCnews.com
However, not all the technology may be so easy to decipher.
Analysts now have the task of unencrypting the information collected. One U.S.official called the technology seized from bin Laden’s fortress “the mother lode of intelligence,” writes Kevin McCaney on Government Computer News.
Officials haven’t said whether, or how well, the electronic devices were encrypted, reports GCN.
The exact amount of technology confiscated is not known. The United Kingdom's Daily Mail reports the treasures include 10 computers, 10 cell phones and 100 memory sticks. But the Wall Street Journal reports that there were five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 portable storage devices such as DVDs and flash drives collected. Paper documents were also taken.
Officials hope that the information gathered from the compound will offer clues to how to hit other al Qaeda members. It is believed that those involved in previous terrorist attacks and details about future plans could be uncovered by sifting through bin Laden's tech, the Daily Mail states.