The National Security Agency provided the Central Intelligence Agency with crucial information on an associate of Osama bin Laden, who was killed days later by a US drone strike, according to a report based on documents provided by Edward Snowden.

Photos of Snowden, a contractor at the NSA, and U.S. President Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong in this illustration photo. (Reuters / Bobby Yip)
Image: Reuters

Hassan Ghul was a known Al-Qaeda operative in Iraq who was captured in 2004 and turned over information regarding bin Laden’s courier network. He was transferred to a secret CIA prison before being released to Pakistan in 2006. Ghul was killed six years later in the country’s tribal belt, eliminated by a drone strike that the US has never publicly acknowledged.

Now, a new report from The Washington Post has revealed that an email from Ghul’s wife “about her current living conditions” was intercepted by the NSA and provided enough information to determine where the wanted Ghul had gone into hiding.

The Post did withhold information at the request of US officials who said that full disclosure could hurt national security.

“This information enabled a capture/kill operation against an individual believed to be Hassan Ghul on October 1,” a document summarizing the mission indicated. 

The files seen by the Post did not detail how the message was monitored.

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