AP: Key source on bin Laden's courier freed by Pakistanis
A month ago, I asked: Why was key source on bin Laden's courier freed? The question centered on Hassan Ghul, an al Qaeda operative who was captured in Iraq, interrogated by the CIA, and gave up vital information on Osama bin Laden's preferred courier, Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti. It was al Kuwaiti who unwittingly led US authorities to bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad.
Ghul was turned over to the Pakistanis and freed. Why?
Adam Goldman of the Associated Press has a must-read update. Goldman reports [emphasis added]:
The terrorist described as the linchpin in the hunt for Osama bin Laden has rejoined al-Qaida after the Bush administration released him from a secret CIA secret prison under pressure from Pakistan, according to former and current U.S. intelligence officials.
Shortly after the CIA decided to close the secret prisons, the U.S. intelligence agency returned al-Qaida operative Hassan Ghul in 2006 to his native Pakistan, which had been demanding his release since his capture about two years earlier.
Pakistan held Ghul for at least a year before he was released, eventually making his way back to al-Qaida to help with operations against the U.S., the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because details about Ghul's case remain classified.
Later in the piece, Goldman adds:
It's not clear why Pakistan wanted Ghul back so badly, but former CIA officers who targeted Ghul said he had ties to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, which had the backing of ISI.
That's about right.