- US Navy Photo
Ten US officials from across the government have told NBC News that, so far, no “truly significant intelligence” has come from the SEAL raid in Yemen that killed Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens, the 8-year-old American daughter of Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, and as many as 30 civilians.
Navy SEALs carrying out the January 29 mission were able to seize laptops, hard drives, and cellphones, the Pentagon told NBC News, but the intelligence gathered so far has reportedly not proven actionable or vital.
NBC’s latest report about the paucity of the intelligence gleaned from the raid comes after President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday and contradicts his assertion that, according to Defense Secretary James Mattis, the raid “generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories.”
A senior US official told the Associated Press that information gathered from the compound included details about Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s training regimen and targeting priorities – Pentagon officials confirmed the recovery of that information to NBC News, but downplayed its significance. One official called it “de minimis.”
Other sources have affirmed the value of the intelligence gathered by the SEALs.
One US official told NBC News that it contained hundreds of contact details from a variety of communications applications, hinting at possible connections to the US and Europe.
A senior Pentagon official told The Washington Examiner that the intelligence had already produced leads on AQAP operations in Yemen and on contacts between people.
“This is a place where we have no troops on the ground,” the official told The Examiner, “so this kind of intelligence can be very valuable.” The official also said Mattis was displeased with NBC News’ report because he viewed it as inaccurate.
The fatal raid has become a polarizing issue for Trump’s still-young term. In the aftermath, Trump appeared to put blame for the mission on Obama administration officials and on military officials who planned it.
Trump also singled out Owens’ widow during his speech to Congress this week, drawing sustained applause from those in attendance. While some viewed it as a presidential moment to commemorate Owens’ sacrifice, others have criticized it as an unsavory spectacle that harvested Owens’ death and his wife’s grief for political purposes.