Wednesday, December 4 2013 11:28 AM EST2013-12-04 16:28:27 GMT
Morning Show links for December 2 through December 9.Full Story >
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(RNN) - Private letters released by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point show al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was frustrated with Middle Eastern jihadist groups' throwing their weight behind domestic campaigns rather than focusing on the U.S.
According to a report released by the Combating Terrorism Center, bin Laden advised local jihadist groups to focus their efforts on attacking America, which he called "our desired goal," so Muslims in other countries could revolt against their leaders without the threat of powerful U.S. military intervention.
The letters paint a picture of a fractured al Qaeda, where bin Laden could do little more than control his segment and advise other factions.
After the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, a number of regional jihadist groups took up the mantel of al Qaeda - but few were officially brought into the group by founder bin Laden. The letters counter the belief that al Qaeda was a high-functioning, rapidly expanding group and rarely touch upon the public push against the injustice of those believed to be "enemies" of Muslims.
"Enemies" included Muslim leaders who didn't adhere to the teachings of the faith in bin Laden's eyes and Western "overseers."
The al Qaeda leader pressed the need for media strategies to rally the public and strengthen the relationship between jihadists and Muslims.
"I plan to release a statement [announcing] that we are starting a new phase to correct [the mistakes] we made," he wrote in a May 2010 letter. "In doing so we shall reclaim, god willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadists."
In response to the Arab Spring, during which several Middle Eastern countries saw huge citizen revolts against their dictatorial leaders, bin Laden called for a media campaign to incite "people who have not yet revolted and exhort them to rebel against the rulers."
The documents include 17 declassified electronic letters totaling nearly 200 pages. They are believed to have been written between September 2006 and April 2011, although a number of letters don't include dates or indicate who the authors or addressees are. A number are incomplete.
The documents were seized from his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after his death at the hands of U.S. Navy Seals on May 1, 2011. They were confiscated during the U.S. raid and were found on five computers, multiple computer hard drives and more than 100 storage devices, such as thumb drives.
The release is only a fraction of the documents collected from the bin Laden compound.
The original Arabic documents were released at 9 a.m. ET and English translations surfaced shortly afterward.
Also surprising is the complicated relationship between al Qaeda and Pakistan or Iran.
Letters indicated the relationship between the group and Iran included ongoing and long-term negotiations over prisoners – including some of bin Laden's family – and other jihadists. The continued kidnapping of people on both sides resulted in more threats and hostile negotiations.
As for Pakistan, the relationship is murkier. The letters don't seem to reference any Pakistani support for al Qaeda.
An analyst for CNN, Peter Bergen, was granted an early look at the documents, and said the terrorist leader was a micromanager.
Bin Laden also called for attacks on President Barack Obama, as well as General David Petraeus. He believed attacks on Vice President Joe Biden were not worth the resources.
The terrorist leader had very specific rules for conducting his war. Lying was not permitted.
For example, the al Qaeda leader didn't approve of using naturalized U.S. citizens for terrorist attacks, because they had taken an oath to the United States. Bin Laden cited Faysal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born U.S. naturalized citizen who attempted to bomb Time Square in New York City on May 1, 2010.
Bin Laden pointed out that to be come a U.S. citizen, one must swear an oath not to hurt the U.S., and Shahzad said he lied when he took the oath.
Bin Laden wanted to make sure his commander was aware of this fact because members of al Qaeda should not lie, writing, "This is a very important matter because we do not want al-Mujahidn to be accused of breaking a covenant."
Bin Laden was widely considered America's most wanted fugitive for his part in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
His death sparked celebrations across the U.S.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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