So as it turns out, tiny disparate pieces of information learned from a few Guantanamo Bay GITMO detainees four years ago led to the identification of a trusted Osama bin Laden associate in Pakistan. Further investigation, surveillance, and intelligence collection led to the successful operation this weekend to kill Osama bin Laden.
Although it may seem obvious, there is a significant lesson to be learned here for domestic U.S. law enforcement, especially those involved in intelligence collection operations. Every piece of information counts. Whether it is citizen reported, learned through interrogation or investigation, or observed during surveillance – – collect it, report it, vet it and most importantly, analyze it. Only when viewed in the “totality of circumstances” can these seemingly disparate pieces of information paint a picture of what is really transpiring. Only when combined with other existing information could bin Laden’s hideout have been discovered. Only when behaviors and observations don’t make sense and raise our suspicions can we effectively interdict terrorists.
As we move forward in the “post-bin Laden era,”, undoubtedly those loyal to his teachings will attempt to avenge his death via additional terrorist attacks. We must not fall into the same false sense of security we had after the 1993 WTC bombing suspects were arrested. We must continue to collect information and intelligence, maybe even increase our efforts, and remain ever vigilant trying to disrupt or prevent terrorism.