State Dept: As core weakens, al Qaeda affiliates are top terror threat
From its base in Yemen, al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula represents a "serious threat" the State Department said in a report.
July 31st, 2012
01:13 PM ET

State Dept: As core weakens, al Qaeda affiliates are top terror threat

By Elise Labott

While the killings of Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda operatives have weakened the terror network, the rise of groups affiliated al Qaeda in the Middle East and Africa presents a serious threat to U.S. security, the State Department's annual terrorism report warns.

"As al-Qaida's core has gotten weaker, we have seen the rise of affiliated groups around the world. Among these al-Qaida affiliates, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) represents a particularly serious threat," the survey of terrorism worldwide warned.

The overview of terrorism and terrorist groups around the world found that bin Laden's death last year in a raid on his compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, by U.S. Navy Seals, coupled with the killing of top al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, "puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse." The report says the June death of Iyas Kashmiri and the August killing of Atiya Abdul Rahman, al Qaeda's second-in-command after bin Laden's death, are among the top blows dealt to the organization in Pakistan.

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Bin Laden raid nets one intel employee big bonus
May 18th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

Bin Laden raid nets one intel employee big bonus

By Arielle Hawkins

The identities of the Navy SEALs who raided Osama bin Laden's compound remain a mystery, but one man who helped get them there is getting his due financially.

An employee with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, has won a Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for analysis of satellite imagery of the terrorist's compound in Pakistan.

The staffer "oversaw and validated trade craft and methodologies applied in the final pursuit of and successful raid on the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad," according to an announcement about the financial reward from the Senior Executives Association, a non-profit group which runs the award ceremony. FULL POST

The very model of a successful bin Laden raid
May 16th, 2012
06:03 PM ET

The very model of a successful bin Laden raid

By Mike Mount

Inside the Pentagon there are historical displays for almost everything the military has done dating back to this country's Revolutionary War. There are also models of all kinds: planes, trucks, missiles, ships and submarines.

On Wednesday an unassuming display popped up in one of hallways with little fanfare. At first there was passing interest, but as word spread more and more people started to gather around, asking questions and taking pictures.

The Styrofoam-and-acrylic model turned out to be a bit of new Pentagon history - it shows Osama bin Laden's walled compound and surrounding farmland.

Designed and built to be used in the planning for the May 2011 raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, the model also was taken to the White House to brief President Obama on plans for the raid.

It was built over a six-week period in the months before the raid and has sat on display in the lobby of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just a few miles from the Pentagon and White House.

Until last week, the model was considered classified and only those working or visiting the building could see it.
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Filed under: 1 Year After Bin Laden's Death • Al Qaeda • Intelligence • Military • Navy SEALs • NGA • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Terrorism
Bin Laden documents: Media strategist and critic
May 3rd, 2012
06:50 PM ET

Bin Laden documents: Media strategist and critic

By Jamie Crawford

The 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks provided al Qaeda a platform from which to reshape its image in the global media, Osama bin Laden wrote in documents recovered from his compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan. The documents provide a glimpse of the al Qaeda leader as media opportunist and critic.

"We need to benefit from this (anniversary) and get our messages to the Muslims and celebrate our victory that they achieved," bin Laden wrote to his confidant and al Qaeda operative Atiyya Abdul Rahman in October 2010. "We will have a lot to show, therefore we should not depend on one media outlet to cover the event."

Read: Security Clearance's coverage of the Osama bin Laden documents

In his letter, bin Laden said his group should contact both the Arabic and English speaking networks of Al Jazeera if they were interested, and to cooperate in their coverage of the anniversary. But the familiar outlets were not the only targets of his message.
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May 3rd, 2012
06:41 PM ET

Osama bin Laden's plan to kill Obama

Some of the documents seized during the raid on bin Laden's compound have been posted online, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.

Bin Laden documents: Fear of drones
May 3rd, 2012
04:49 PM ET

Bin Laden documents: Fear of drones

By Pam Benson

The dire impact of CIA drone missile strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan certainly did not go unnoticed by Osama bin Laden, prompting the al Qaeda leader to repeatedly warn associates to take appropriate security measures, according to documents seized during the raid on the al Qaeda leader's Pakistan compound last year.

Read:  Security Clearance's coverage of the Osama bin Laden documents

The letters written by bin Laden were among a number of documents released to the public on Thursday by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center.

In an October 2010 letter to Atiyya Abdul Rahman, al Qaeda's top operational planner, bin Laden noted the experience the United States had in using drones to monitor activities in the tribal areas of Pakistan where many of al Qaeda's core members operated.

"They can distinguish between houses frequented by men at a higher rate than usual. Also, the visiting person might be tracked without him knowing," he wrote.

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Bin Laden documents: The plotting continued
May 3rd, 2012
04:16 PM ET

Bin Laden documents: The plotting continued

By Mike Mount

Osama bin Laden ordered suicide squads to be created in Pakistan and Afghanistan for the sole reason of tracking down President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, who was then the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to a letter written by bin Laden in May of 2010.

Read: Security Clearance's coverage of the Osama bin Laden documents

The letter, released by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, published some of the documents captured in the bin Laden raid last May. A review of the letters released publicly Thursday offer insight into the top leader's thinking and planning as he remained hidden from global view but still tried to have a hand in directing his organization, al Qaeda.

The al Qaeda leader asked his lieutenants to identify people in both countries who could keep an eye out for Obama and Petraeus and conduct suicide operations against them as they traveled in either country. FULL POST

Bin Laden documents: Tension with the branch offices
May 3rd, 2012
03:21 PM ET

Bin Laden documents: Tension with the branch offices

By Tim Lister

After years of isolation at his Abbottabad compound, Osama bin Laden's frustration was growing. He couldn't rein in groups that had taken the al Qaeda name but took little or no notice of "headquarters."  He seemed even envious of their freedom to operate and of the money they had, and he was still yearning to get operatives into the United States.

Read:  Security Clearance's coverage of the Osama bin Laden documents

Among the letters seized during the Abbottabad raid a year ago and released Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, there's plentiful evidence that bin Laden was distressed by the behavior of affiliates in Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan - and especially the casualties among Muslim civilians they were inflicting.

By 2010, the al Qaeda leader was even suggesting a fresh start. FULL POST

Bin Laden documents: Iran, drugs and murder
May 3rd, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Bin Laden documents: Iran, drugs and murder

By Jamie Crawford

From his Abbottabad hideout, Osama bin Laden was apparently concerned about the financial health of al Qaeda, according to recently declassified documents found during the U.S. raid on his compound one year ago.

Read:  Security Clearance's coverage of the Osama bin Laden documents

Money pressures were evident elsewhere, as well, as seen in a letter from an al Qaeda affiliate checking the morality of financing operations by murdering drug traffickers to steal their money.

In a letter from bin Laden to one of his confidants known as Atiyya in late May 2010, the shape of al Qaeda's finances, and its ability to carry on operations seemed to be on the terror leader's mind.
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May 3rd, 2012
10:42 AM ET

The Osama bin Laden documents

Scores of pages of al Qaeda documents seized in last year's U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden were released Thursday.

They comprise 175 pages in the original Arabic of letters and drafts from bin Laden and other key al Qaeda figures, including the American Adam Gadahn and Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Throughout the day, Security Clearance will be posting new stories here

The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, published the papers on its website.  Here are the center's brief description of the documents. You can click the links for the English translations: FULL POST

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