So it looks as though bin Laden was much more hands on with the rest of al Qaeda’s operations than we were led to believe. Interesting, since we were told a full-scale war was the only way to stop all those disconnected cells, but of course it’s likely the intelligence community’s findings were molded to meet the long-term political goals of the White House:
The ongoing study of files recovered from Osama bin Laden’s compound revealed that he wanted to plan another 9/11-scale attack on the US, which he hoped would shock the US into ending its presence in the Middle East.
As information from the files is studied, it is becoming increasingly clear to US officials that bin Laden remained very involved in Al Qaeda’s operations from his hiding spot in Abbottabad. It remains to be seen, however, if this will convince Pakistani officials that the 9/11 mastermind was more than an “out-of-touch figurehead” whose presence deep inside Pakistan was of little consequence, as they have suggested.
Citing bin Laden’s handwritten journal and information gleaned from computer files recovered in the May 2 raid, US officials told the Associated Press that the Saudi-born terrorist calculated how many Americans he thought would have to die in order for the US to leave the Arab world and decided that the small attacks since 9/11 would not be enough – that thousands had to die at once, like they did in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Bin Laden was cognizant of US counterterrorism defenses and educated his followers on how to evade them, according to the AP. He also urged them to focus plots not just on New York City, but other large cities, such as Los Angeles, and smaller cities throughout the country. He insisted they consider trains as a target, not just planes.
In fact, it looks like he was a bit of a micro-manager. And like many executives, sounds like he was a little antsy about letting anyone else succeed him:
Intelligence gathered months before the raid revealed a tell-tale exchange with the al Qaeda leader in Yemen. The leader, a Yemeni, wrote to bin Laden with a surprising proposal: He suggested that he step down as chief of the affiliate in favor of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American ideologue. Awlaki’s influence has been revealed in a string of recent plots against the U.S., including the attempted Christmas bombing on a Detroit-bound flight in 2009.
The leader explained that naming Awlaki as his replacement would be a propaganda coup. It would take advantage of the cleric’s popularity among Westerners, especially Americans, and have a strong impact on recruitment, according to the counterterror official.
The leader in Pakistan rejected the proposal, however, according to the official. “Bin laden’s message was essentially, I know you. I trust you. Let’s keep things the way they are.”