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For ten years, the West has waged a secret war against Al-Qaeda.
Last time, we detailed America's campaign of abduction, clandestine interrogation and torture.
But in recent years, the secret war has moved into a new phase.
The best game in town, the one that's shifted the battlefield in our favour.
Under increasing pressure, Al-Qaeda has found ways to adapt and strike back, to deadly effect.
It's not a watch, it's a detonator.
To kill as much as I can, insha'Allah.
President Obama claims he has the enemy on the run...
We have put Al-Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.
..hunting down its leaders right to the very top.
This was way high risk. If you're having a bunch of guys
running around a hot compound
at night, with high walls, he ain't gonna come out but feet first, I think.
I've watched this story unfold since 9/11.
For this series, I've talked to those at the heart
of this secret war, including the former head of MI5.
In her first ever television interview, she reveals how the threat escalated.
We felt...really, really oppressed by the scale of what we were having to deal with
and the choices we were having to make.
After a decade of fighting the world's most formidable terrorist organisation
and with Bin Laden now dead, is the West winning?
And are we now any safer from attack?
Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.
On Christmas Day 2009,
Jasper Schuringa was heading to America on Flight 253
to spend the holidays with his sister.
'The beginning of the flight was just like any regular flight.
'It was easy-going, I slept, just had some breakfast.'
'As we begin our approach, please make sure that all seats are in the upright position...'
'The plane was getting ready for final approach.
'Suddenly, we heard like an explosion.
A real sharp explosion.
And when you hear an explosion in a plane,
you really...like, your heart stops.
But Jasper reacted instinctively.
He launched himself straight at the bomber.
'He was trying to do something in the area of his underpants, so I grabbed this bomb thing.'
It was on fire, it was a really strange object.
'But he was trying to resist, and the bomb residue was dripping on the floor,'
so at that point my major concern was that this plane was getting on fire.
He was very scared, he was, like, shivering, and he had liked this dead,
dead look in his eyes, like he thought he was already gone, I thought, that he might be in heaven.
Give me a hand! Hold his leg!
'I told him, I said to him, "So what is wrong with you?"'
"How can you do this?" And then I slapped him.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had a bomb sewn into his underwear.
It contained the highly explosive powder PETN,
and he was struggling to trigger a full-scale explosion that would have brought down the plane.
Flight 253, safe on the ground after what the White House says was a serious terrorist attempt.
It was later on that I found out, I think a day later that I found out
it was actually Al-Qaeda and the big terrorist network behind it.
-How lucky were you?
-We really shouldn't be here,
because the first pop that we had in the plane, that was supposed to be the final detonation of the bomb.
And so I don't know why, maybe it was my little angel on my shoulder,
but...yeah, so...we survived.
How close did Abdulmutallab come to succeeding over Detroit on Christmas Day?
Unfortunately, too close.
This particular individual was putting these explosives together.
I would consider it to be, as my experts would,
to be very creative and very good.
What are you doing?!
How do you regard the passenger who tackled Abdulmutallab?
A true hero.
More than eight years after 9/11, Al-Qaeda could still breach security
at a European airport and be seconds away from destroying an American aircraft over an American city.
The bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,
had been identified to the CIA as a known extremist,
but he was never stopped from boarding a flight.
It wasn't meant to be like this.
Since 9/11, intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic
have had massive increases in funding to counter the terrorist threat.
MI5's budget increased dramatically after the 2005 London bombings.
In Britain, even before the attacks, intelligence chiefs were alarmed
as they were inundated with potential plots.
We felt...really, really oppressed
by the scale of what we were having to deal with
and the choices we were having to make, which was why, when I became director general,
I asked the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for substantial extra resources
to deal with this... much greater problem than we had previously anticipated.
By the summer of 2006, the increased funding was beginning to pay off.
British and American intelligence were now tracking the biggest terrorist plot since 9/11.
It was destined to change the nature of air travel for millions across the world.
It was, and remains today, ten years in, the most significant plot that we've faced.
It's my view that it was intended to be a fifth anniversary attack.
The plans were ambitious and extensive.
The technology was simple.
The plot was to smuggle explosives concealed in soft-drinks bottles
through airport security at Heathrow.
They came up with a very innovative solution, which was a binary explosive.
Combine the two liquids and you have an explosive.
Make it look like Gatorade or some sort of drink,
and onboard it goes and probably would have been effective.
To demonstrate what the liquid bombs would have done to an airliner, the BBC conducted this experiment
using the same ingredients and formula as the bombers.
The plan was to detonate bombs on seven transatlantic flights simultaneously.
It would have been an attack conducted by British citizens
against the United States of America and Canada.
If the explosions had taken place in mid-Atlantic,
the chances are high that we would not have known how it had happened.
The airline industry would have closed down
or been severely altered for a number of years,
and it would have been a major political success for Al-Qaeda.
But the expansion of covert surveillance in Britain and America was producing results.
The scale of the surveillance was unprecedented.
It was of such a scale that it enabled us to have complete visibility
on the planning and the experimentation and the activities of these people.
So we were quite content that we could keep the public safe at the same time as gathering evidence.
Surveillance teams watched the plotters until they were on the brink of carrying out the attack.
They even listened in as the suicide videos were being recorded.
We Muslims are people of honour.
We are people of izzat, we're brave.
We've warned you so many times to get out of our lands, leave us alone.
And now the time has come for you to be destroyed,
and you have nothing but to expect but floods of martyr operation,
volcanoes of anger and revenge erupting amongst your capital.
The police moved in and arrested the plotters.
Six young British Muslims were convicted and sentenced to life.
It was an unprecedented success for the West's secret war on terror.
If they were conducting that plot against our security services
as they existed in 2000 or 2001,
that plot succeeds.
But we've changed, we've gotten better.
That plot is much more difficult now for them to pull off.
But what happened next would show that the intelligence services still faced formidable obstacles.
The airlines plot, like many others,
was conceived, organised and directed not from Britain, but from Pakistan.
One of the instigators was British-born Rashid Rauf,
the son of a baker from Birmingham.
Rauf was now living in Pakistan.
I think there's little doubt that Rashid Rauf was a key planner,
a key plotter, probably a key leader in this.
He was obviously a link between the network here in the UK
and Al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.
He was very connected to core Al-Qaeda all the way up to the leadership.
He was very involved with the leadership of external operations,
so he was intimately involved with core Al-Qaeda and I consider him a member of core Al-Qaeda.
Shortly before the plotters were arrested in the UK, Rauf was seized by the Pakistani authorities.
But, just 16 months later, he escaped.
On the way back from court, he'd asked to stop off at a fast food outlet.
He then asked to pray at the mosque next door.
As his guards waited in the car outside,
Rashid Rauf slipped out of the back.
We had, not only a player,
not only a critical player, but a critical player
directed against citizens of the UK and America
and it looked like he went out the back door.
I remember the morning I heard that, like, "I can't believe this."
This isn't some chump change facilitator, this is a player.
So, I confess, a lot of anger and frustration.
Rauf's escape highlighted the fundamental tensions in the relationship
between western intelligence and their counterparts in Pakistan.
Pakistan, and especially Pakistan's army and intelligence service,
is our most important ally in the war against Al-Qaeda
and our most difficult ally in the war against Al-Qaeda.
And nothing demonstrated these difficulties more
than the fate of Osama Bin Laden after he fled Afghanistan in 2001.
We're going to smoke him out,
and we're adjusting our thinking to the new type of enemy.
There's an old poster out west that said, "Wanted dead or alive."
But the key question was, where was he?
I used to brief President Bush every Thursday morning.
I got that question in some way, shape or form once a week every Thursday morning.
And I came back and I called my chief of counter-terrorism and said,
"Come on, for the nth time, the President of United States has asked me,
"Why can't we find Osama bin Laden?"
And my chief of counter-terrorism, a very serious man, very talented,
leans forward and says, in response to my question, "Why can't we find him?
"Because he's hiding."
Hiding, yes, but not in a cave.
We now know, that from at least 2005,
America's high value target number one
was actually living under the nose
of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI,
in a garrison town a mere 40 miles from Islamabad.
To think that nobody was aware that something unusual was going on,
I think, is a bit of a stretch.
These suspicions arise because, for more than 30 years,
Pakistan has fought its own secret war in the region,
to serve its own strategic ends.
Pakistan has encouraged Islamist militants to fight its enemies
since the 1980s when the Russians invaded Afghanistan.
Against the Soviet Union we encouraged a Jihad.
We called it a Jihad and we called it a Jihad because we wanted mujahideen,
and we called them mujahideen to come from all over the Muslim world.
And they came from Morocco to Indonesia,
everyone came, 35,000, roughly.
And then we trained Taliban and sent them in.
From tribal agencies of Pakistan,
so we introduced religious militancy in Afghanistan,
and its fallout on Pakistan
and also we introduced the concept of Jihad.
Pakistan, and especially the Pakistani army,
over the course of the last three or four decades,
has been the incubator and midwife
of more international terrorist Jihadist organisations
than any other in the world.
In effect, they have created a Jihadist Frankenstein
in order to pursue their own national security interests.
The suspicion was that Pakistan tolerated, even aided,
the fugitive Al-Qaeda leadership inside the country,
enabling them to carry out further attacks on the west.
And, following his escape in 2006, Rashid Rauf,
one of the suspected instigators of the airlines plot,
was soon operational again.
Less than two years later,
he met a young Jihadi volunteer who'd been brought up in America.
This was the new, very dangerous model, which is, "We, Al-Qaeda, will recruit you.
"We will train you to be very capable."
And he was very capable in terms of the explosives he was making.
Very dangerous, very, very potent.
"And then we'll send you home and you figure out what your targets
"going to be, but just make it big and impactful."
After being trained in Pakistan, new recruit Najibullah Zazi headed back to America.
He'd been identified as a terrorist suspect through intercepted e-mails.
The FBI secretly monitored him buying peroxide and acetone,
household products that were the ingredients for a bomb.
This was the real thing. This wasn't aspirational.
This wasn't, "He was planning to or thinking about."
This was he had built the explosives, tested them, understood that he could build them and was going to New York
to manufacture more explosives and then to deploy that operation likely in New York.
Zazi planned to strike at the very heart of New York, but FBI agents were watching.
They saw him visiting some of the biggest transport intersections like Grand Central Station
and suspected he was planning a catastrophic attack on the subway.
But, before he could act, the police arrested him and two other members of his cell.
Were it not for the combined efforts of the law enforcement and intelligence communities,
it could have been devastating.
The FBI's operation disrupted what would have been America's first home-grown suicide attack.
Najibullah Zazi represented probably the gravest threat of terrorism on American soil since 9/11.
For the second time, a major plot linked to Rashid Rauf
had narrowly failed to inflict massive civilian casualties.
In November 2008, it appears that Rashid Rauf's career
as a key Al-Qaeda operative suddenly came to an end.
My information is that Rashid Rauf...
..was killed in a drone attack.
For several years, the Americans had been developing a new state-of-the-art tactic.
It's a high-tech pilotless drone aircraft with a lethal payload of hellfire missiles.
It's used to target key figures in Al-Qaeda,
bypassing the need for Pakistan's sometimes unreliable co-operation.
It's known as the Predator.
Barack Obama's election victory in November 2008
signalled a fundamental shift in America's approach to the war against Al-Qaeda.
Under previous president George W Bush, the CIA and the military had been given free rein
to wage a secret war against the terrorists using abduction,
secret interrogation black sites and torture.
America doesn't torture,
and I'm going to make sure that we don't torture.
Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world.
Obama pledged to restore human rights in the balance of liberty and security.
But behind the liberal rhetoric was a clinical decision
to hit Al-Qaeda hard, using legally contentious means.
America first deployed its new secret weapon under George W Bush,
but now Obama decided to ratchet up the use of these pilotless aircraft.
My agency has pointed out
that a significant fraction of Al-Qaeda's senior leadership
in the tribal region has, the euphemism we have used is
"taken off the battlefield".
By the way, "taken off the battlefield" used to mean "killed or captured".
In the last couple of years, "taken off the battlefield" simply means killed.
We just aren't doing many, any, capturing.
Although launched from Afghanistan,
the drones are piloted by remote control thousands of miles away inside the United States.
The military is happy to show off its drones,
but the CIA programme is so secret
the agency won't even acknowledge its existence.
A significant portion of Al-Qaeda senior leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan has been killed.
-Well, your words, not mine.
All I can say is they've been killed.
Killed with suddenness and precision, I could add.
President Obama has authorised more than 160 drone strikes,
almost four times those sanctioned by President Bush.
The best game in town,
the one that's shifted the battlefield in our favour.
It has been a very strong,
significant force in making Al-Qaeda's senior leadership
spend most of their waking moments worrying about their survival
rather than threatening yours or mine.
And that is a war-winning effort.
But there's a downside to drone attacks -
hundreds of civilians have been killed.
Protests have mounted across Pakistan,
fuelling anti-American propaganda even more.
What's your view of the drone attacks on Pakistani soil?
I'm sure they pick up the right targets.
But then there is the problem of collateral damage, number one.
Killing of civilians.
And the second issue of violation of our territorial integrity or sovereignty.
Did you say the Americans could do this?
-Did you say they could carry out drone attacks on Pakistani soil?
-I didn't say that.
-You didn't agree to it?
The use of drone strikes
inside countries where the US is not involved in armed conflict
is a violation of international law according to some authorities.
And some believe it's tantamount to unlawful extra-judicial killing.
This is a quite awesome power,
the power to label somebody as an enemy
and by virtue of having labelled them as an enemy,
wipe them out without judicial process of any kind.
Isn't that state authorised assassination?
To target suspects, fire missiles at them from out of the sky?
In the traditional conduct of war,
and, Peter, that's the punchline here, this is a war.
You asked the question, aren't these assassinations?
No. They're not assassinations.
This is armed conflict.
This is action against opposing armed enemy force.
This is an inherent right of the American state to self-defence.
But the war is in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan.
That may be some people's views.
But it's not the view of the United States government.
The President... Two Presidents of the United States have said we are at war.
We've seen, over and over again, the administration,
first the Bush administration and now the Obama administration,
label somebody as a terrorist, only to find out later on
that the evidence we relied on was weak or just outright wrong.
The first question is have they identified the person right?
The second question is have they targeted, have they got the right place to shoot the drone at,
is that where the individual really is?
The odds of them getting that right are very slim.
The third problem is who does get killed?
Are these really Taliban people in Al-Qaeda
or are they random civilians who had nothing to do with it?
It would be naive to believe the propaganda that says that
firing these fantastic weapons is killing the right people.
Although President Obama may be free of the stigma of abduction and torture,
drone attacks are now fuelling Al-Qaeda propaganda
just as the abuses under the Bush administration once did.
And they're driving more recruits to the terrorist cause,
as one dramatic event in late 2009 was to prove.
Forward Operating Base Chapman is the intelligence nerve centre
of America's secret drone war.
Located in Khost, just across the Afghan border from Pakistan,
it's where the CIA gather pinpoint intelligence to target the drones.
The drones only work
if you have good human intelligence sources on the ground
that tell you where to fly.
From here, the CIA runs a network of spies and informers.
This is the precarious frontline in the secret war on terror.
If you're going to run assets into the tribal belt
on the Pakistani side of the Afghan-Pakistan border,
you have to be as close as possible.
You don't want to have to communicate with them from afar.
You want to be able to deal with your assets within an hour or so
after they leave Pakistan.
This is very dangerous work against a very capable enemy.
That's an example of our pursuing the kind of exquisite intelligence
that is legally and morally required
before you can carry on some of these activities.
This is not without risk.
Towards the end of 2009,
the CIA agents at the base were presented with a unique opportunity.
Jordanian intelligence had a Palestinian source called Khalil al-Balawi
who said he'd infiltrated the highest ranks of Al-Qaeda.
In this case, you had an asset who had spent considerable time
building his cover story, that he was a penetration of Al-Qaeda.
That he'd been Al-Qaeda propagandist.
But that he had turned,
he had come to see that Al-Qaeda was an enemy of Islam.
What al-Balawi was offering was the holy grail of the secret intelligence war.
Al-Balawi was offering extraordinary information,
something we'd been looking for for a decade and hadn't even come close to,
the location of high-value target number two,
and perhaps high-value target number one,
Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.
Second only to the elusive Osama bin Laden,
al-Zawahiri was the strategic mastermind of Al-Qaeda.
Al-Balawi's story seemed highly credible,
an opportunity that could not be missed
and he came with eye-watering proof of his association with Zawahiri.
My understanding is that he actually provided photographs
that showed him and Zawahiri meeting together.
The ultimate proof that he knew where the target was.
The CIA agents arranged to meet their priceless asset at the base.
When al-Balawi arrived with his Jordanian handler,
the most valuable asset the agency had ever recruited in its secret war against Al-Qaeda
was greeted by a CIA reception committee.
But only hours before he entered the CIA compound,
al-Balawi had recorded this chilling video message for his hosts.
As al-Balawi stepped down from the car,
the CIA moved in to check him out.
They were concerned that his hands were still under his cloak.
Al-Balawi pressed the button.
Seven CIA officers were killed, including the head of station.
It was the deadliest attack on the CIA in more than 25 years.
The attack at Khost showed just how sophisticated and cunning Al-Qaeda has become.
It's not a watch, it's a detonator. To kill as much as I can.
In this deadliest of spy games,
Al-Qaeda had outwitted the CIA and won.
God willing, I go to paradise and you will be sent to hell.
You had here an operation where Al-Qaeda is running it
and using two allies in order to facilitate the operation.
A triple agent, three organisations involved in running it,
a prior suicide video already made.
This was a very elaborate and very thought-through operation.
Sitting next to al-Balawi in the suicide video
was the brother of the Taliban leader in Pakistan
who'd been killed in a drone attack six months earlier.
May Allah have mercy on him.
We taught the American CIA and Jordanian intelligence
a lesson they will never forget with Allah's permission.
The attack on the CIA base was clinical revenge.
The damage inflicted by drones has dealt Al-Qaeda a crippling blow.
Pakistan is no longer seen as a safe haven.
No longer can Al-Qaeda train and organise in its tribal areas with impunity.
That's a key reason why Al-Qaeda's focus has changed.
It's always been a learning organisation. It's always adapted.
It's, for want of a better phrase, a worthy adversary in that sense.
But I think as a measure of our success,
Al-Qaeda has been forced to adapt,
perhaps in ways they would not have chosen otherwise.
It's suffered lots of setbacks. It's lost some key people.
But like all terrorist organisations, it mutates and learns.
Franchises spread out so there will be groups all around the world,
some of whom may be directed today by the core of Al-Qaeda.
You know, it looks as though the only place we don't think it is is Antarctica.
The Christmas Day attack on the flight over Detroit
was a terrifying demonstration of Al-Qaeda's new flexibility.
The young bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,
had never set foot in Pakistan.
The Nigerian student had been trained in Yemen
by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.
In my opinion, AQAP right now
is a greater imminent threat than core Al-Qaeda.
Yemen has now become an alternative location for terrorist training,
a location that boasts its own charismatic Al-Qaeda figurehead.
It is important that we present the proper role models
for ourselves to follow, for our children.
'Anwar al-Awlaki is an American citizen,
'the Bin Laden of the Internet.
'He has both charisma and a track record.
'He's been linked to the most recent terrorist attacks on the West...'
..we need to study their biographies, learn about them.
'..and has squeezed every ounce of propaganda
'from the abortive aircraft attack over Detroit.'
Our brother Umar Farouk has succeeded in breaking through
the security systems that have cost the US government alone
over 40 billion since 9/11.
So, al-Awlaki's more than just a cleric?
Much more than just a cleric.
-What is he?
-He's a terrorist.
And he's involved increasingly in virtually every plot we see
emanating from the Arabian peninsular,
because of the power of his ideological message.
'Because of the global reach of the Internet
'and the fact that he speaks English,
'al-Awlaki has managed to radicalise
'and recruit young Muslims around the world,
'seduced by his call to jihad.
'He's becoming the spokesman for an Islamist revolution.'
'We cannot stand idly in the face of such aggression,
'and we will fight back and incite others to do the same.'
What a terrible tragedy. Stunning.
As I say, as I've gone around to the hospital here,
as I've been at the scene,
soldiers and family members
and many of the great civilians that work here are absolutely devastated.
'Al-Awlaki was mentor to Major Nidal Hasan,
'a Palestinian psychiatrist serving in the American military.
'In November 2009,
'he shot dead 13 soldiers inside a Texas military base.
'In May last year, a young British student stabbed and wounded
'the former Government minister Stephen Timms
'at his constituency surgery.
'She admitted she'd drawn the inspiration to kill him
'from watching al-Awlaki on the Internet.'
A very charismatic individual, he's very articulate,
and, if we could say, in some shape an intelligent human being,
albeit warped human being.
'Last October, al-Awlaki's group managed to place
'two sophisticated bombs on cargo planes bound for the US.
'They were concealed in printer cartridges.
'Had the bombs exploded,
'the results could have been two Lockerbie-style disasters.'
It was not only sophisticated, but it was creative.
And incredibly, incredibly difficult to detect
through routine measures that are taken.
'And al-Awlaki lost no opportunity to publicise his coup.
'His glossy in-house magazine boasted
'the operation had cost just 4,200,
'including post and packing.
'It had forced every cargo company to increase its security,
'at great cost.
'Al-Awlaki's revolutionary influence is being felt
'inside Muslim communities across the English-speaking world.
'In the UK, a mosque in Luton has experienced the effect.'
In Anwar al-Awlaki, we can't deny, his knowledge is disseminated.
People listen to him.
What's his appeal?
His appeal is he goes against the grain.
"Here's America, and here's the West,
"the great Satans attacking the Muslim lands,
"we have to defend ourselves."
So people tend to like this sort of person
because he's going against the grain.
'During Ramadan in 2007, a young man came to the Luton Islamic Centre
'and began expressing extremist views
'and preaching the need for jihad.
'The mosque chairman stepped in.'
I exposed his beliefs in front of the community. He was sitting there,
listening to all that.
I thought that would be enough embarrassment for him
to remain silent, but instead he got up and he stormed out.
'Then, last December,
'a suicide bomber attacked the centre of Stockholm.
'The bomber blew himself up, but luckily, no-one else died,
'as his bomb exploded
'before he could reach the busy shopping streets.
'The bomber's name was Taimour al-Abdaly.
'He was the young Muslim who'd stormed out of the Luton mosque.'
It's thought that Anwar al-Awlaki influenced al-Abdaly in Stockholm.
Would that surprise you?
No, it wouldn't surprise me, because Anwar al-Awlaki advocates
suicide bombing, he advocates killing innocent people.
'Al-Awlaki's influence and ability to communicate directly
'with so many impressionable young Muslims suggests that
'it's more important than ever for the community to inform the police
'about potential extremists.
'But for many Muslims,
'that's a difficult and controversial step to take.'
Didn't you feel any obligation as a British citizen to inform
the authorities about somebody about whom you're concerned,
because of his extremist views?
If we are seen to pass on information about the people we're dealing with
on a grass-root level, number one, we lose our credibility,
number two, these people will then go into hiding.
That makes the job for the intelligence service harder.
'Al-Awlaki is now a marked man.
'It's believed that he has become the first American citizen to be
'designated for capture or killing, authorised by President Obama.
'A recent drone attack reportedly almost got him.'
I understand that the President has authorised
the targeting of al-Awlaki.
Is that not state-authorised assassination?
You know I can't comment on that, Peter.
But he's somebody you would be happy to see removed from the scene?
What I would be happy is that
these individuals need to be neutralised in some way.
'Al-Awlaki personifies the most pressing current threat
'in the secret war on terror.
'His ability to preach in English through the Internet has radicalised
'a new generation.'
'But many in the intelligence world I've spoken to now point to
'another looming danger
'rooted in the spread of militant Islam around the world.'
'To find out more, I travelled to the cold and unlikely setting
'of America's Midwest.'
'Minneapolis is home to the largest community of Somalis
'in the United States.
'Most have fled the brutal civil wars
'that have ravaged their homeland for more than 30 years.
'Zuhur Ahmed hosts a local community radio show.'
Here with the Somali community,
because they're newly-immigrant communities,
and they have yet to adapt to the American system.
There's a lot of broken families, there's a lot of issues here,
and struggles, as far as youth and the older generation,
there's a gap between parents and their children.
So, because of all these existing issues,
of course it created that vulnerable group of young men.
We're just coming into the Somali area now, are we?
Yeah, that's correct. This is the Cedar-Riverside area of Minneapolis.
'FBI agent EK Wilson became concerned
'three years ago when a number
'of young Somalis suddenly disappeared from their homes.'
They had in some cases left for school one morning
and simply not returned, simply vanished.
And the parents would have no idea
where they had gone and what they were doing?
But even given that dramatic set of circumstances,
there was still nobody coming to the police or nobody coming to the FBI
saying, "My son disappeared - was he kidnapped?
"We're concerned for his safety."
We know that young men had disappeared,
that they had left their families here in Minneapolis
without saying where they were going.
They had made their way back to Somalia.
'At least 20 young Somalis had left Minneapolis
'and travelled 8,000 miles to the heart of a brutal civil war.'
'They'd gone to fight for al-Shabab, which means "the youth",
'a militant Islamic army fighting for control of the country.'
'Al-Shabab is affiliated to Al-Qaeda.'
When you look at the al-Shabab videos,
they're calling out for the youth, specifically for the youth,
and they're saying, "Come and fight for your land,
"fight for your religion,
"and come and free yourself from the oppression."
'One of the young men who went to join al-Shabab was Shirwa Ahmed.
'To his friends,
'he was just a typical American kid who'd recently left college.'
'Nimco Ahmed had been his good friend for many years,
'since their days together at high school.'
He did well, everything he did.
Things that every young man does in this country -
work, go to school, go to the movies,
play basketball, and just hang out.
But someone who was never violent,
someone who never raised their voice at anyone,
someone who just respected everybody and liked those that knew him.
'But in 2008, Shirwa Ahmed drove a vehicle loaded with explosives
'into a Somali government compound and blew himself up,
'killing 29 people.'
It never came to mind that
I would actually know someone who would commit a suicide bombing,
because that was something that I'd normally just see
and always be frightened about.
The first day I actually saw Shirwa's face was on a newspaper.
And I just broke down...
I broke down and I just didn't know
whether it was the same Shirwa I knew
or whether this was somebody else.
He was America's first ever suicide bomber.
His remains were returned to his family in Minneapolis.
They are now buried beneath the snow.
Are you worried about
young American Muslims going to Somalia,
joining al-Shabaab and then coming back
and forming sleeper cells on mainland America?
Yes and they may have already done that
and that is one of our missions to detect that and to prevent that.
But we would be not doing our job if we weren't thinking ahead
and looking at the possibility that actually some of these folks
are coming back for planning here in the United States attacks.
Why do you say some of them may already have done that?
We have not identified all of those individuals
that have travelled back to the United States
so the question is, has that evolution of the group
and their contacts with other Al-Qaeda affiliates
matured to the point where the United States is the primary goal?
In the years since 9/11, the man who designated America
as Al-Qaeda's primary target, Osama Bin Laden,
had neither been captured nor killed.
He was still living in secret in the heart of Pakistan.
In May 2011, all that changed.
To me, this was way high risk.
A series of intelligence fragments finally brought
an elite squad of US Special Forces in the dead of night
to a sleepy garrison town near Pakistan's capital Islamabad.
Their mission, to capture or kill the man who President Obama believed was Al-Qaeda's leader.
You've got two big risks going in.
First, we haven't positively identified
that this is Osama Bin Laden.
So you're sacrificing potentially US men
and the US reputation to go after an unknown target.
Second, that the operation, if the intelligence is accurate,
somehow ends up in disaster.
In that case, potentially even to get in a firefight with Pakistani police or military.
The President and his team watched the entire operation
unfold from the White House but never breathed a word to Pakistan.
They feared a leak
and that Bin Laden might disappear before they could get him.
The Navy Seals found Bin Laden in his bedroom.
They shot him twice, once in the chest and once in the head.
He was unarmed.
I think the prospect of taking him alive was very low
but the prospect that somebody said, "You can only take him dead"
I think is outlandish. I don't buy that for a moment.
But you're having a bunch of guys running around a hot compound at night with high walls,
he's not going to come out but feet-first, I think.
We can say to those families who have lost loved ones
to Al-Qaeda's terror,
justice has been done.
CROWD CHANTS: USA!
I was disturbed the day after to see Americans on the streets
in the United States, cos it suggested to me
first that people were too happy thinking this is the end of a book
instead of just the end of a chapter. And second that we're celebrating
the death of a human being. You don't celebrate death.
But does the fact that Bin Laden was finally hiding
in such a prominent location suggest
that Pakistan cannot be trusted as an ally in this secret war?
To suggest a national conspiracy in Pakistan...
I mean, let's face it, they had been, not only embarrassed, but humiliated by this exercise.
And I just don't think the leadership was involved in this kind of protection operation.
Ten years on from the 9/11 attacks,
the secret war on terror has changed beyond recognition.
But even with Bin Laden dead, Al-Qaeda remains resilient.
The American base at Guantanamo Bay is a stubborn reminder
of how difficult and controversial the war has been.
Within days of taking office, President Obama promised to close Guantanamo
and with it an unedifying chapter in American history.
And we then provide the process
whereby Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.
But more than two years later,
there are still around 170 detainees held without trial.
Many Al-Qaeda's hardcore, some who've been ill-treated in the past.
We were only allowed to film a few and forbidden to show their faces.
Well, we've been with these guys for nine years. We know...
We know who we picked off the battlefield,
we know what type of guys they are
as far as compliant and non-compliant.
Just because they are compliant,
doesn't mean that their ideology has not changed.
They still want to kill our guards,
they still want to disrupt our organisation,
they're still in a fight.
In the wake of Bin Laden's death,
some former CIA chiefs maintain that it was the secret
interrogation techniques that helped identify the courier
who eventually led to his hideout. It proves, they argue,
that the techniques were justified.
The Obama White House dismisses this and says it was the result
of multiple sources and years of painstaking intelligence work.
But the death of Bin Laden hasn't solved
the problem of Guantanamo Bay.
President Obama pledged to try the detainees
in civilian courts in America.
But it's proved almost impossible.
Much of the evidence obtained through torture
and ill-treatment is likely to be thrown out.
So now the President has ordered a resumption
of military tribunals at Guantanamo.
If Bin Laden had been brought back alive,
this is probably the justice he would have faced.
For the time being, it looks like Obama is stuck with Guantanamo
and the legacy it represents.
If you remember September 12th, 2001,
there was an enormous reservoir of goodwill towards the United States
because Americans had been victims of a terrible crime.
But because we responded to that in a way that threw away our values,
and we were viewed as hypocrites, we created Guantanamo Bay in Cuba
and we said it was to preserve our way of life
and yet the first thing we jettisoned was the rule of law.
Hypocrisy breeds hatred
and I'm afraid it has bred hatred around the world.
And now people... large numbers of people around the world,
despise us who used to feel sympathy for us.
But despite the damage done to America's reputation
by the abuses of the secret war,
intelligence chiefs feel that the pressure on Al-Qaeda is paying off.
They believe that ten years of steady attrition against Al-Qaeda
has made a 9/11 type attack much less likely.
It's much more difficult for them to conduct a spectacular.
The way I summarise it is
future attacks will be less complex,
less well organised,
less likely to succeed,
less lethal if they do succeed,
and more numerous.
I mean, what is Al-Qaeda other than a terrorist organisation?
I mean, what's the identity of Al-Qaeda globally?
If you take terror away, they're pretty damn ordinary.
The secret war has left its lasting mark on the conflict,
but there's now a growing realisation within the intelligence community
that hearts and minds are an increasingly critical front on the battleground.
I think that making sure that we hold to our values,
our ethical standards, our laws
and are not tempted to go down the route
which others in my view have made the profound mistake of going down
means that in the longer run
we will have a chance from that moral authority
of addressing some of the underlying causes of these problems,
looking for the long-term... the long-term political solutions.
Is the war winnable?
Not in a military sense.
There won't be a Waterloo...
an El Alamo.
If we can get to a state where there are fewer attacks,
less lethal attacks, fewer young people being drawn into this,
less causes, resolution of the Palestinian question,
less impetus for this activity,
I think we can get to a stage where the threat is much reduced.
But the terminology about winning the war on terror
was not something that I ever subscribed to.
This is the end of a chapter, it is not the end of a buck.
And unless we maintain momentum, not only on the remnants,
the deadly remnants of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan,
but on the now successful affiliate organisations in places like Yemen,
the Sahel in Africa, South-East Asia...
I think we will lose unless we maintain momentum.
In the end, most terrorist conflicts
are either resolved by outright victory for one side or the other,
or by governments talking to the terrorists
and addressing the political roots of the conflict.
A dramatic new way of thinking may now be required.
Do we have to talk to Al-Qaeda?
I would hope that people are trying to do so. I don't know.
It's always better to talk to the people who are attacking you
than attacking them, if you can.
I don't know whether they are,
but I would hope that people trying to reach out
to the Taliban, to people on the edges of Al-Qaeda, to talk to them.
Do you think that the terrorists, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, will listen?
I don't know.
It doesn't mean to say it's not worth trying.
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