Osama was planning US attack, grooming son to take over al Qaeda, show documents

  • HT Correspondent & Reuters, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: May 20, 2015 22:28 IST

Osama bin Laden was fixated on attacking US targets and pressured al Qaeda groups to heal local rivalries and focus on that cause, according to documents the United States says were seized in bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan and released on Wednesday.

A July 2010 letter, which was among the materials released by US intelligence, showed that bin Laden pressed al Qaeda in Yemen, one of the group's more active affiliates, to make peace with the government and focus on America.

Bin Laden's view was that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ought to sign a truce with Yemeni authorities or arrange an accommodation in which Yemeni authorities would leave the group alone "in exchange for focusing on America."

"The purpose is to focus on striking inside America and its interest abroad, especially oil producing countries, to agitate public opinion and to force US to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq," according to a summary of the letter by a bin Laden associate identified as "Atiyyah."

It says the associate recommended "extra security measures" for Anwar al Awlaki, a U.S.-born radical preacher who became one of AQAP's principal strategists and spokesman, and also that Awlaki should be required to "change his way of life."

Awlaki had served as an imam at a mosque in a Virginia suburb of Washington, which was attended by two militants who participated in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He fled to Yemen after the attacks and was killed in 2011 by a CIA drone strike.

Bin Laden was also grooming his 22-year-old son Hamza as his heir. Hamza wrote to his reclusive father to say he was itching to join the fight. Hamza trained with explosives and embraced the terror network that killed 3,000 Americans in the 9/11 attacks.

Hamza was the favorite son of bin Laden, according to US intelligence officials.

The documents released on Wednesday were part of a cache seized by US commandos who conducted the 2012 raid on bin Laden's house in Abbottabad, Pakistan when bin Laden was killed.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement that the release of the documents followed a "rigorous" review by US government agencies as required by the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act.

Among the materials were declassified documents, including translations of purported correspondence between bin Laden, his aides and members of his family; a list of English-language books recovered from the compound and material published by other militant groups.

US House of Representatives intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes said in a statement that Wednesday's release of 86 new reports brought the total number of declassified reports seized from bin Laden's house to 120.

"I look forward to the conclusion of the ongoing efforts to declassify the hundreds of remaining Abbottabad reports to meet congressional requirements," he said.

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