Osama bin Laden was out of touch with the younger generation of al Qaeda commanders, who often did not listen to his advice during the years he was in hiding in northern Pakistan, according to US and Pakistani officials.
They have contradicted the assertions of some American officials that bin Laden was running a "command and control" centre from the walled compound in Pakistan's garrison town of Abbottabad, McClatchy reports. Officials say that bin Laden clearly was not in control of al Qaeda, though he was trying to remain involved or at least influential.
"He was like the cranky old uncle that people weren't listening to," said a US official, who had been briefed on the evidence collected from the Abbottabad compound and who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. "The younger guys had never worked directly with him. They did not take everything he said as right."The Navy SEALs who raided bin Laden's compound on May 2, scooped up computer hard drives and thumb drives that held a huge amount of data before they left the scene, with bin Laden's body, aboard American helicopters.
Most of that data has been sifted through now, allowing officials to reach better conclusions about how bin Laden had been passing the time and with whom he had been in contact, it said.
The computer records also lend credence to long-held beliefs that bin Laden's longtime deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, who was named al Qaeda's leader earlier this month, had been much more involved and important to the group's operations than bin Laden had been in the last several years, the report added.
"He wanted to stay involved," the US official said of bin Laden. "He was corresponding with a lot of senior (al Qaeda) people, correcting perceptions, giving advice. He remained important as a symbol, sending out instructions, giving spiritual guidance."