Abu Zubaydah


Abu Zubaydah : biography

March 12, 1971 –

John McLaughlin, former acting CIA director, stated in 2006, "I totally disagree with the view that the capture of Abu Zubaydah was unimportant. Abu Zubaydah was woven through all of the intelligence prior to 9/11 that signaled a major attack was coming, and his capture yielded a great deal of important information." CNN, June 20, 2006

In his 2007 memoir, former CIA Director George Tenet writes:

A published report in 2006 contended that Abu Zubaydah was mentally unstable and that the administration had overstated his importance. Baloney. Abu Zubaydah had been at the crossroads of many al-Qa’ida operations and was in position to – and did – share critical information with his interrogators. Apparently, the source of the rumor that Abu Zubaydah was unbalanced was his personal diary, in which he adopted various personas. From that shaky perch, some junior Freudians leapt to the conclusion that Zubaydah had multiple personalities. In fact, Agency psychiatrists eventually determined that in his diary he was using a sophisticated literary device to express himself. And, boy, did he express himself.George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, HarperCollins, 2007

Saudi and Pakistani connection allegations

Gerald Posner in his book, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 (2003) claimed that Abu Zubaydah was duped by U.S. interrogators masquerading as Saudis and using painkillers and sodium pentathol, sometimes called "truth serum". Zubaydah, he writes, thought he was in a Saudi prison, when in fact he was in Afghanistan. Posner says Zubaydah, "relieved" to find he was being quizzed by people he thought were Saudis, provided them with phone numbers for a senior member of the Saudi royal family who would "tell you what to do." The numbers were traced to Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a nephew of King Fahd.

When the agents accused Zubaydah of lying, he revealed more details of Saudi and Pakistani ties to bin Laden, Posner said. The CIA passed on the information to the related governments. In the space of one week, three of the four persons named by him were dead. Prince Ahmed, 43, died of a heart attack on July 22, 2002. The next day, a car crash killed Saudi Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, 41. A week later, Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, 25, reportedly died "of thirst" while traveling east of Riyadh. Seven months later, a plane crash killed Pakistani Air Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, his wife and several aides in Pakistan. Posner acknowledged these events could have been coincidences.

Early activities

By 1999, the U.S. Government was attempting to surveil Abu Zubaydah., The Press Trust of India Ltd. Through Asia Pulse, March 28, 2004 (Access My Library Link, requires free membership) By March 2000, United States officials were reporting that Abu Zubaydah was a "senior bin Laden official", the "former head of Egypt-based Islamic Jihad", a "trusted aide" to bin Laden with "growing power," who had "played a key role in the East Africa embassy attacks.", The Washington Post. March 11, 2000 (Highbeam News Database Link, requires free membership) None of these assertions has been corroborated. He was eventually described as a low-level person.

Abu Zubaydah was convicted in absentia in Jordan and sentenced to death, The Independent, September 19, 2000 by a Jordanian court for his role in plots to bomb U.S. and Israeli targets there. (Highbeam News Database Link, requires free membership) A senior Middle East security official said Zubaydah had directed the Jordanian cell and was part of “bin Laden’s inner circle.", The Seattle Times, Sunday, March 5, 2000

In August 2001, a classified FBI report entitled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.”, said that the foiled millennium bomber, Ahmed Ressam, had confessed that Zubaydah had encouraged him to blow up the Los Angeles airport, and facilitated his mission., CNN.com, April 10, 2004 The report said that Zubaydah was planning his own attack on the U.S. (This was not made public until 2004.) An unclassified FBI report said Ressam tried to buy a laptop for Zubaydah., AP Online, December 19, 2001 (Highbeam News Database Link, requires free membership) When Ahmed Ressam was tried in December 2001, federal prosecutors did not try to connect him to Abu Zubaydah. It did not refer to any of this supposed evidence in its case. After the trial, Ressam recanted his confession, saying he had been coerced into giving it.

What was believed about Zubaydah

According to a psychological evaluation conducted of Abu Zubaydah upon his capture, he allegedly did the following:

  • Quickly rose from very low level mujahedin to third or fourth man in al Qaeda.
  • Served as Osama Bin Laden’s senior lieutenant.
  • Managed a network of training camps.
  • Was instrumental in the training of operatives for al Qaeda, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist elements inside Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Acted as the Deputy Camp Commander for al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, personally approving entry and graduation of all trainees during 1999–2000.
  • Approved all individuals going in and out of Afghanistan to the training camps from 1996–1999.
  • No one went in and out of Peshawar, Pakistan without his knowledge and approval.
  • Acted as al Qaeda’s coordinator of external contacts and foreign communications.
  • Acted as al Qaeda’s counter-intelligence officer and had been trusted to find spies within the organization.
  • Was involved in every major terrorist operation carried out by al Qaeda.
  • Was a planner for the Millennium plot to attack U.S. and Israeli targets during the Millennium celebrations in Jordan.
  • Served as a planner for the Paris Embassy plot in 2001.
  • Was one of the planners of 9/11.
  • Engaged in planning future terrorist attacks against U.S. interests.
  • Wrote al Qaeda’s manual on resistance techniques,