Associated Free Press via Google
WASHINGTON — Intelligence agencies combing through computers and storage devices found at Osama bin Laden’s compound expect a “gold mine” of data that could expose terror plots, Al-Qaeda figures’ locations and funding sources, ex-US officials said Wednesday.
The trove of material hauled away after bin Laden was killed in a US raid on Sunday — about five computers, 10 hard drives and 100 storage devices — represents a dramatic intelligence breakthrough for the United States in its fight against Al-Qaeda, said the experts.
“I’ll be very surprised if this isn’t a gold mine for us,” said John McLaughlin, a former CIA deputy director.
“I think we’re probably going to find reports of potential plotting. We’ll probably find something about funding. We may learn something about whatever relationship he did or didn’t have with Pakistan. We’ll learn about key aides,” he told CNN.
US officials said a task force of experts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department and other agencies had begun scouring the material, in a task that would last months and possibly years.
The initial search will focus on “detecting ongoing threats” and information pointing to “other high-value targets within Al-Qaeda,” Michael Leiter, head of the National Counter-terrorism Center, told National Public Radio.
The government would “probably” be adding names to its terrorist watch list as a result of the information gleaned from Bin Laden’s computer files, Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate hearing Wednesday.