Data From Seized Computer Fuels a Surge in U.S. Raids on Al Qaeda

After retrieving a laptop in a strike on a Qaeda leader, American and Afghan commandos increased night raids on militants, even as the United States has declared the Afghanistan war essentially over.

WASHINGTON — As an October chill fell on the mountain passes that separate the militant havens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a small team of Afghan intelligence commandos and American Special Operations forces descended on a village where they believed a leader of Al Qaeda was hiding.

That night the Afghans and Americans got their man, Abu Bara al-Kuwaiti. They also came away with what officials from both countries say was an even bigger prize: a laptop computer and files detailing Qaeda operations on both sides of the border.

American military officials said the intelligence seized in the raid was possibly as significant as the information found in the computer and documents of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after members of the Navy SEALs killed him in 2011.

In the months since, the trove of intelligence has helped fuel a significant increase in night raids by American Special Operations forces and Afghan intelligence commandos, Afghan and American officials said.

Writing in Vanguards of Khorasan, a Qaeda magazine, Mr. Kuwaiti said he had been a “student” and “comrade” of Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who, before his death, was described as Al Qaeda’s general manager, according to The Long War Journal, a website that tracks militants.

In the eulogy, Mr. Kuwaiti repeatedly noted that he had access to Mr. Rahman’s documents, and that he had been informed of the details of numerous operations, including a suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan in 2009 that killed seven C.I.A officers.

A former American military official said that Mr. Kuwaiti was believed to have taken on some of Mr. Rahman’s duties within Al Qaeda; that he was close with Ayman al-Zawhiri, Al Qaeda’s leader; and that “he would have had a lot of the nuts and bolts about what they were up to in that computer.”

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting.

Source: The New York Times (1551 Articles)
Written by Matthew Rosenberg and Eric Schmitt