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
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.
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 Paul Cruickshank, CNN Terrorism Analyst
For years they were the double act at the top of al Qaeda: the charismatic Saudi who projected aloofness while he micro-managed, and his cunning but divisive Egyptian deputy, whose prolific video output made him the public face of the network in the years after 9/11.
They had forged an alliance between their two groups, and settled into a symbiotic partnership in the Jihadist melting pot of Peshawar in the late 1980s, and in the following decade the Sudan and Taliban-run Afghanistan. Those who spent time in their company say the two men were genuinely close and enjoyed an easy and often jocular repartee. When Osama bin Laden walked into a room, Ayman al Zawahiri was often at his side, deferential and courteous – a quite calculated but also genuine show of respect – and a metaphor for his relationship with the Saudi.
For there was also fierce ambition in the Egyptian, and some different ideas about where al Qaeda’s priorities should lie, which the Abbottabad documents suggest caused a number of disagreements in the years after 9/11, with implications, given Zawahiri’s accession as leader, for the future course of the terrorist network.
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."
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.
Some of the documents seized during the raid on bin Laden's compound have been posted online, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.