Osama bin Laden letters seized during capture released by US
A selection of documents seized by the United States which detail the communiques of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden have been posted online.
The 17 letters, posted online by the US Army’s Combating Terrorism Center on Thursday, reveal the al-Qaeda leader to be weary of dysfunction in his terrorist network.
Bin Laden feared a loss of trust from Muslim populations he had hoped to incite against their governments and Western powers.
The deaths of the network’s leadership, in quick succession, amplified bin Laden’s fears for the prospects of his organisation’s survival.
Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington, said bin Laden feared the actions of “so-called al-Qaeda affiliates”, would hurt the al-Qaeda “brand”.
“Experts have described the seized papers as the motherlode of terrorism documents,” said Fisher.
The al-Qaeda leader wanted to reduce attacks that led to the deaths of Muslims and instead “concentrate efforts on the US”, Fisher added.
Bin Laden had aimed to carry out a large-scale strike, like the September 11 attacks, which he thought would lead to a change in US policy.
He wished especially to target airplanes carrying General David Petraeus and President Barack Obama, reasoning that an assassination of the US president would elevate an “utterly unprepared” vice president, Joe Biden, into the presidency and plunge the US into crisis.
The documents, totaling 175 pages in the original Arabic, were part of over 6,000 documents seized in last year’s raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
Referencing the compound, 50 kilometres from Islamabad, bin Laden said he was very happy with the security situation.
Notably, the al-Qaeda leader pointed to the fact that “the children weren’t allowed outside the compound without an adult” who could ensure the noise level would be kept down so as not to arouse suspicion, said our correspondent.
In the year since the operation that killed the al-Qaeda leader, US officials have remained critical of Pakistan’s answers to who helped Laden during his years in the northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad.
Even so, our correspondent said “there is no suggestion in the documents … that there was institutional Pakistani support for Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda”.
The correspondence, dating from September 2006 to April 2011, also depicts a leader revered but sometimes ignored by field commanders, some of whom dismissed him as out of touch as he urged them to keep attacking US targets.
The documents were disseminated as part of a complicated process that started with the al-Qaeda leader writing his letters in the Microsoft Word programme on one of the compound’s five different computers, and then transmitting them to hard drives and DVD discs.
The documents would then be sent by courier to far-flung internet access points on flash drives before their contents were emailed out.
White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan said this week that bin Laden’s own words confirm that America is safer with him gone.