Crime Files Network

Murder in mind:

the bin Laden diaries

He was a sickly child..and so the story goes

Ken Dilanian, Brian Bennett

May 12, 2011

WASHINGTON: Osama bin Laden kept a journal in which he contemplated how to kill as many Americans as possible, and his schemes included terrorist attacks in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, US officials say.

The handwritten journal was discovered in a vast cache of digital and printed material that was hauled away from bin Laden’s hideout after US Navy SEALs killed him last week in Abbottabad, Pakistan. One official said the trove provided ”terrabytes” of new information about al-Qaeda.

The official described the journal as full of planed ideas and outlines of potential operations, ”aspirational guidance” on how to kill the maximum number of people, rather than specific proposals or plots that were actually under way.

Wanted Americans dead ... Osamaa bin Laden.Wanted Americans dead … Osama bin Laden. Photo: Reuters 

In one unnerving passage, bin Laden wondered how many Americans would have to die in US cities to force the US government to withdraw from the Arab world. He concluded it would require another mass murder on the scale of the attacks of September 11, 2001, to spur a reversal in policy, a US official said.

The officials declined to provide details about potential plots in Los Angeles and Chicago. Bin Laden discussed an operation in Washington, one official said, ”because of its iconic value”.

Details of the diary emerged as members of Congress got a first chance to examine photos of bin Laden’s corpse, which President Barack Obama has decided not to make public. Bin Laden was shot in the head and chest. ”By viewing these photos, I can help dispel conspiracy theorists who doubt that bin Laden is in fact dead,” said Senator James Inhofe, who, on Wednesday, was among those who travelled to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to see the pictures.

A CIA-led multi-agency task force continues to scrutinise data from five computers, dozens of flash drives, and other devices that were taken from bin Laden’s walled compound. The analysts have not found evidence of an imminent threat of an attack by al-Qaeda or its affiliates around the globe, officials said.

But the initial analysis has determined that bin Laden was in regular contact with several deputies, including al-Qaeda’s putative operations chief, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, officials said. The messages were sent primarily by couriers carrying flash drives, the official said.

The intelligence thus had overturned the long-held conventional wisdom that bin Laden was an inspirational figurehead who was so isolated that he cut off communications and played no operational role in terrorist attacks or plots, the officials said.

”These assumptions [are] going out the window,” one official said.

Discovery of the journal was not entirely unexpected. Bin Laden’s son Omar described his father in a 2009 memoir, Growing Up bin Laden, as regularly recording his thoughts and plans.

Every day this week intelligence officials across the government had been briefed about new information developed from the intelligence haul, one US official said.

The messages to Rahman, a Libyan in his mid-30s, have drawn special interest.

Rahman joined bin Laden in Afghanistan as a teenager in the 1980s and ”since then, he has gained considerable stature in al-Qaeda as an explosives expert and Islamic scholar”, according to a State Department website that offers a $US1 million reward for information leading to him.

US officials believe Rahman took over as al-Qaeda’s No. 3 figure after Sheikh Said al-Masri was killed in a US missile strike.

McClatchey Newspapers

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