By Pam Benson
Some of the mystery that shrouded Osama bin Laden will be partially lifted as the public gets its first opportunity to read some of the documents seized during the U.S. raid on the al Qaeda founder's hideout in Pakistan one year ago.
A selection of the more than 6,000 documents will be made available Thursday on the website of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said 17 al Qaeda-originated documents will be released in their original Arabic as well as English translations. The CTC will provide a short report with an overview of the materials.
The documents were found on the five computers, dozens of hard drives and more than 100 storage devices, such as thumb drives and discs, confiscated from the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound after bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs during the May 2011 raid.
U.S. officials have described the cache as a treasure trove of material, the single largest collection of senior terrorist material ever obtained. It included digital, audio and video files, printed materials, recording devices and handwritten documents.
One year after the death of Osama bin laden, the core of al Qaeda that brought us 9/11 is essentially gone. But it is the organization's affiliates around the world that analysts say will still be a "formidible problem" in the future. CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence reports.
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of opinion essays about homeland security. Clark Kent Ervin was the first inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security. He currently is a consultant for the Aspen Institute's Homeland Security Program. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the 2012 Aspen Security Forum, July 25-28.
By Clark Kent Ervin, Special to CNN
This week marks the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. What should be a cause for nationalistic chest-beating by all Americans has become, like everything else these days, a source of partisan rancor instead. But, to me, the most striking thing about the anniversary is not the hothouse political combat it is engendering, but instead the degree to which it underscores a perennial and pernicious feature of the American psyche - our tendency to lurch from one extreme to another.
We see this tendency in economic policy, with one extreme arguing for virtually no government intervention whatsoever in the marketplace (except, of course, where its own parochial interests require it) and another arguing for a government solution to virtually every problem. Common sense, as well as bitter experience, calls for a balance between the two. Left entirely to their own devices, some in the private sector will defraud consumers and abuse workers. And, left entirely to their own devices, some in government will make bad business decisions and unduly restrict individual freedom.
By Jamie Crawford
In the annals of American history, the famous photo taken by Pete Souza of President Barack Obama and his national security team monitoring 'Operation Neptune's Spear'–the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden– has achieved icon status. Splashed across newspapers and television screens across the world, the tension in the room seemed palpable to all who saw it. But an interesting footnote to the famous photo is that it was not taken in the actual Situation Room at the White House.
As CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen reports in his new book "Manhunt," about the decade long search for bin Laden, the room where the photo was taken is actually a smaller room adjoined to the larger Situation Room. Like the Situation Room, the smaller room has secure video and phone communications, but it has a table that can only accommodate seven people Bergen writes, as opposed to the larger table next door which can seat more than a dozen.
Brigadier General Marshall "Brad" Webb, assistant commanding general of Joint Special Operations Command who sits in the center of the famous photo, was monitoring the operation on a screen through a laptop computer. Michael Leiter, then director of the National Counterterrorism Center, went into the room to watch the feed that was being relayed from a secret drone. Secretaries Clinton, Gates, and Vice President Biden soon followed. Moments later Bergen reports, the president walked in and said, "I need to watch this," as he seated himself next to Webb.
In the days and months that followed, many of the people in the room have reflected on that crucial time in U.S. history, what it meant to them, and what they were thinking.
Hundreds of documents were discovered by German cryptologists embedded inside a pornographic movie on a memory disk belonging to a suspected al Qaeda operative arrested in Berlin last year. Details of the documents were obtained by CNN and reveal an inside track on some of the terror group's most audacious plots and a road map for future operations.
Future plots include the idea of seizing cruise ships and carrying out attacks in Europe similar to the gun attacks by Pakistani militants that paralyzed the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008. Ten gunmen killed 164 people in that three-day rampage. Read the full story FULL POST
By Pam Benson, CNN
No one is writing al Qaeda's obituary yet. But one year after its leader Osama bin Laden was shot dead by U.S. commandos, U.S. officials and experts say the terror network's core group holed up in Pakistan is hemorrhaging and could be in its final days.
CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, for one, maintains that al Qaeda - at least its components based in south central Asia - is in terrible shape.
"Their record of failure speaks for itself: No success in the west since the London attacks of 2005, no attacks in the United States since 9/11 (2001), almost the entire top leadership dead or captured," said Bergen.
Adds Robert Grenier, the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, "The movement has essentially been marginalized."
And a senior U.S. official describes al Qaeda as "largely in survival mode, putting most of its energy into coping with the losses and changes of the last year with a disjointed focus on global jihad."
Ayman al-Zawahiri replaced bin Laden at the helm, but by most all accounts he is a shadow of the cult-like figure of bin Laden.
[Update Tuesday, June 5, 2012] Abu Yahya al-Libi, the No. 2 man in al Qaeda and a longtime public face of the terror network, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, a U.S. official said Tuesday. He appeared in this list of Most Wanted terrorists earlier this year.
[Original post]As the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death approaches, CNN has updated this list, originally published in September 2011, taking a look at some of the dead, captured and the remaining most wanted terrorists from the last 10 years.
While progress has been made, there are still terrorists being sought by the U.S. government. CNN spoke with a number of intelligence agencies to come up with this list of "dirty dozens." Here are the 12 most significant terrorists who are now dead, have been captured and those who are still being hunted. The lists are obviously subjective–there are many more candidates–but these are some of the top combatants in the war on terror.