Bin Laden even had specific ideas for how to
maximize the coverage: reaching out to the Arabic satellite channel
Al-Jazeera to "cooperate with them by answering any questions" and
sending printed, audio, and video materials to CBS or other American
news channels "that can be close to being unbiased."
Laden, according to the documents released by West Point's Combating
Terrorism Center, was also trying to persuade his putative followers in
countries such as Pakistan and Somalia to avoid strikes killing
significant numbers of other Muslims, describing such attacks as sins
that risked al-Qaida's standing in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
ask every emir in the regions to be extremely keen and focused on
controlling the military work ... we could have reached the target without
injuring the Muslims," bin Laden wrote in May 2010. "Making these
mistakes is a great issue; needless to say, the greatness of the Muslim
blood violation in addition to the damage impacting the jihad."
senior Qaida figures called for ceasing attacks on Christian targets in
the Middle East, arguing that they reduced potential sources of
converts and political supporters.
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"The Catholics are a fertile
ground for call of God and to persuade them about the just cause of the
mujahedeen," al-Qaida's American-born spokesman Adam Gadahn wrote in a
January 2011 document. "But the attacks on Christians in Iraq ... does not
help us to convey that message."
The new documents arrive in the
middle of a growing political firestorm over bin Laden's killing, with
the Obama administration releasing campaign videos trumpeting his
decision to order the high-risk raid into Pakistan and Republicans
accusing the White House of politicizing the raid.
the papers paint a more complex picture of bin Laden than that in the
public domain since the successful May 2011 assault by Navy SEALs.
documents leave little doubt about bin Laden's bloodthirsty ambitions.
He urges his followers to strike American targets in South Africa and
South Korea, which he believed to be less defended than those in
Afghanistan and Iraq. He also speaks wistfully of assassinating
President Obama and current CIA Director David Petraeus, writing that a
President Biden would be "totally unprepared for that post, which will
lead the U.S. into a crisis." American officials have consistently said
there are no indications those aspirations ever reached the planning
Still, the documents released on Thursday don't appear to
substantiate the administration's early claims that bin Laden exercised
operational control over much of al-Qaida's activities. Last summer, for
instance, an unnamed U.S. official claiming to have been briefed on the
documents told The New York Times that bin Laden "continued to
plot and plan, to come up with ideas about targets, and to communicate
those ideas to other senior Qaida leaders.''