By Barbara Starr
In the hours before the 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the CIA delivered a final, crucial 66-page document to the White House.
Thirty-three pages detailed how the mission would be announced to the world if it was a success. But the other 33 pages spelled out what would have happened, and what would been said, if it all went wrong. The plan was carried to the White House in a locked bag by George Little, then-press secretary to CIA director Leon Panetta. Little spoke to CNN Wednesday, just two days before leaving government service as the Pentagon press secretary.
By Jamie Crawford
Did the United States intelligence community dismiss a warning of an al Qaeda plot to hijack a commercial airliner a year before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?
That's the assertion made by Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan government watchdog group, based on a document it obtained from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) through the Freedom of Information Act and distributed to media.
In the Intelligence Information Report dated September 27, 2001, the DIA says al Qaeda planned to hijack a plane leaving Frankfurt International Airport sometime between March and August 2000. Advanced warning of that plot "was disregarded because nobody believed that (Osama) bin Laden or the Taliban could carry out such an operation," the report said.
The plot was eventually delayed after one of the participants withdrew from the plot.
Osama bin Laden typically wore a cowboy hat while tending his garden.
Its broad brim obscured his features from the view of pesky eyes or satellite cameras that might blow his cover while he was hiding out in Pakistan, according to a report published widely in Pakistani media.
The 337-page leaked report details the domestic life of one of the world's most wanted men as a grandfather in his final days of life.
It also scathes Pakistani authorities for failing to keep him out of the country, and for failing to prevent the U.S. raid by Navy SEALs that killed bin Laden in May 2011.FULL STORY
By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister and Nic Robertson
A previously secret document found at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan sets out a detailed al Qaeda strategy for attacking targets in Europe and the United States.
The document - a letter written to bin Laden in March 2010 by a senior operational figure in the terror group - reveals that tunnels, bridges, dams, undersea pipelines and internet cables were among the targets.
It was written by Younis al-Mauretani, a senior al Qaeda planner thought to have been behind an ambitious plan to hit "soft" targets in Europe in the fall of 2010.
The U.S. Department of Justice passed the letter to German prosecutors last year for use in an ongoing trial in Dusseldorf because it possibly refers to one of the defendants, according to the German newspaper Die Zeit.
The 17-page letter is in Arabic.
Al-Mauretani proposed that al Qaeda recruits take jobs with companies transporting gasoline and and other sensitive companies in the West, and await the right moment to strike.FULL STORY
By Pam Benson
The arrest of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who had been living in Iran for the past decade, has once again raised questions about whether the Iranian government is providing a haven or barrier to the terror group.
Al Qaeda and its members held under "house arrest" in Iran over the past decade have had a complicated relationship with the Tehran regime, one which allowed the detainees to often times continue supporting the terror group's operations in the region.
Current and former U.S. officials say al Qaeda in Iran managed to be fairly active in facilitating the movement of money and people into Pakistan where the core leadership has safe haven in tribal areas.
"They helped move people in and out of FATA through Iran for operational reasons," one former senior counter-terrorism official told CNN.
The growing strength of extremist groups across the Middle East and Africa has led the Obama Administration to begin a classified review of just who it can go after under its targeted killing program.
The current congressional authorization to use military force, allows the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against any persons or organizations involved in planning or carrying out the September 11th attacks–its been interpreted to include al Qaeda affiliates.
But emerging terrorist groups sympathetic to al Qaeda do not necessarily have a direct link to the core Al Qaeda network responsible for the September 11th attack, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
Reporting from Barbara Starr and Susan Candiotti
Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who has served as an al Qaeda spokesman, was captured and has been brought to the United States, two administration officials and a federal law enforcement official said Thursday.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is being held in New York, and will appear in court Friday to face federal charges, the law enforcement official said.
A sealed indictment lays out charges against him, the administration officials said.
Abu Ghaith was captured within the past week in Jordan, according to a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York.
Congress was notified when Ghaith was taken into U.S. custody, the administration officials said.
The U.S. Treasury Department has described Abu Ghaith as "the official spokesman of al Qaeda since his appointment to that position after the attacks of September 11, 2001."
He appeared in videos as "the mouthpiece of bin Laden," the department said.
Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist al Qaeda network that staged the 9/11attacks on the United States, was killed in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan in 2011.
By Barbara Starr
The commander of all Navy SEALS is sharply critical of claims attributed to a man called "The Shooter," identified in a published report to have been the SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden but felt mistreated by the military when he left the service.
Esquire magazine's riveting account of the 2011 bin Laden raid in Pakistan was based on an interview with the former SEAL, who was not named but complained about losing his health care coverage when he left the Navy last year.
He was short of the full 20-year career required to receive such benefits.
"Concerning recent writing and reporting on 'The Shooter' and his alleged situation, this former SEAL made a deliberate and informed decision to leave the Navy several years short of retirement status," said Rear Admiral Sean Pybus, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command.
By Jamie Gumbrecht
He's the man who rolled into a bedroom in Abbottabad, Pakistan, raised his gun and shot Osama bin Laden three times in the forehead.
Nearly two years later, the SEAL Team Six member is a secret celebrity with nothing to show for the deed; no job, no pension, no recognition outside a small circle of colleagues.
Journalist Phil Bronstein profiled the man in the March issue of Esquire, calling him only the Shooter - a husband, father and SEAL Team Six member who happened to pull the trigger on the notorious terrorist. It's a detailed account of how the raid unfolded, and what comes after for those involved. The headline splashed across the cover reads, "The man who killed Osama bin Laden ... is screwed."
"They spent, in the case of the shooter, 16 years doing exactly what they're trained to do, which is going out on these missions, deployment after deployment, killing people on a regular basis, " said Bronstein, executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting. "They finally get to the point where they don't want to do that anymore."
By Pam Benson
The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to know exactly what the CIA told the makers of a controversial movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden that might have contributed to the film's suggestion that the harsh interrogation of a suspected terrorist helped find the al Qaeda leader.
A bipartisan group of senior senators said in a statement Thursday that they had written two letters to CIA Acting Director Michael Morell asking for all information and documents the agency provided to the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty." They also want Morell to provide proof for comments he made saying that harsh interrogations played a role in finding bin Laden.
Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin and Republican Sen. John McCain said they are concerned that the CIA may have provided information that might have misled the movie's director Kathryn Bigelow and its writer Mark Boal. Morell and other CIA officers met with the filmmakers shortly after the May 2011 raid.