June 23rd, 2011
02:39 PM ET

Official: Materials Obama mentioned show bin Laden’s concern over al Qaeda’s image

A U.S. official says letters found at the compound in Abbottabad suggest that Osama bin Laden was very concerned that the West had been able to “reframe” al Qaeda’s image. For instance, the officials said, bin Laden was worried that the West had shortened the name of the group from al Qaeda al Jihad, which he believed would prevent Muslims from identifying with the group.

The official says letters between Ayman al Zawahiri and bin Laden also show that bin Laden was very concerned that al Qaeda in Iraq was damaging al Qaeda’s image with attacks that killed civilians.

In addition, says the official, senior figures in al Qaeda expressed concern that the organization had lost a lot of its top leadership over the past two or three years, and that their bench of seasoned skilled leaders wasn’t that deep.

The official characterizes the letters as “relatively recent,” and says some were written earlier this year.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Al-Zawahiri • Osama bin Laden