Bin Laden urged 'spectacular' attacks on US cities



WASHINGTON, Dan De Luce- From his hideout in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden pushed for dramatic attacks on American cities and asserted his authority in correspondence with Al-Qaeda deputies, a US official said Thursday.
Notebooks and computer files seized in the US raid that killed bin Laden show the Al-Qaeda chief displayed "a continuing emphasis on spectacular attacks," urging his lieutenants to focus on US and Western targets instead of striking closer to home in Yemen or Somalia, the official told AFP.



Bin Laden urged 'spectacular' attacks on US cities
Behind the walls of his compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, bin Laden wrote to senior leaders that he wanted Al-Qaeda to strike at major US cities, including Los Angeles, and to hit trains as well as airplanes, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Al-Qaeda mastermind was focused on "transportation and infrastructure" and wanted the timing of a strike to coincide with key dates such as America's July 4th Independence Day celebrations or the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the official said.
Despite some media reports that questioned if bin Laden exercised operational control from his residence, the official insisted that intelligence analysts believe bin Laden's compound served as an important headquarters.
"We remain convinced that this was in fact an Al-Qaeda command and control center... It was a leadership node for Al-Qaeda," he said.
Although the compound did not resemble an American intelligence or military command post, "that doesn't make it any less dangerous," the official said.
"This was not an Al-Qaeda think tank or the Abbottabad retirement home for terrorists," the official said.
The material also showed bin Laden wrote about the need to recruit and appeal to "minorities" in the United States to bolster Al-Qaeda's efforts, a second official said.
The correspondence, which included contact with Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, was akin to a "commander's intent" to his officers.
"These are specific ideas about how things should be handled and how the group could do it," the official said.
While Bin Laden's presence for years in a military garrison town has fueled speculation that Pakistan may have known of the Al-Qaeda founder's whereabouts, the documents found so far have not confirmed any contact between bin Laden and the Pakistani government, the official said.
The details of bin Laden's writings were first reported by the Washington Post and other US media on Thursday.
Via courier, bin Laden communicated with a relatively small number of Al-Qaeda figures, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, long considered as the network's number two, and Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan believed to be the organization's number-ranking member, the Post wrote.
The CIA and at least nine other government agencies are translating and reviewing the trove of material found at the compound, which included more than 100 flash drives and DVDs as well computers, hard drives, handwritten notes, recording devices and mobile phones.
US national security advisor Tom Donilon said Sunday that the cache of information seized in the operation amounts to "a small college library," while spy agencies have called it an extraordinary intelligence coup.
Officials have indicated that none of the correspondence has revealed an unfolding plot and cautioned against reading too much into some details that have begun to emerge out of a vast amount of material.
"It's going to take a while to pore through all this. No one should take one little bit of information that gets out there and draw broad conclusions about what bin Laden was thinking, saying or doing," the official said.
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Friday, May 13th 2011
Dan De Luce
           


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