The Envoy
  • Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden death

    President Barack Obama explained his decision not to release photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse this week by citing the risk jihadi militants would use the gruesome images as a propaganda tool. What's more, Obama noted, such risks far outweighed the value of producing evidence of bin Laden's death to win skeptics over. "There is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden," Obama told "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft.

    And one notable group won't be counted in the skeptic's camp: al Qaeda. The terrorist group's general command sent a defiant statement to jihadi on-line forums Tuesday--the same day Obama announced his decision not to release the photos--confirming that bin Laden is dead, and calling for its supporters to take revenge.

    Bin Laden's blood "will be a curse that will chase the Americans and their agents, a curse that will pursue them inside and outside their country, and soon--with God's help--we pray that their happiness turns into sorrow and may their bloods mix with their tears," the group vows.

    The statement was released and translated from the Arabic by the SITE intelligence group, which monitors online radical forums. The AP has posted a video on the statement to YouTube:

    Excerpts of the translated statement, posted by CNN, are below the jump:

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  • Was bin Laden growing pot?

    binladenpotThe al Qaeda mastermind probably was not the farmer, given that he rarely ventured beyond his Pakistani compound's high walls. But reporters have noted and snapped photos of marijuana growing outside the compound in Abbottabad where Osama bin Laden lived from 2005 until his death in a U.S. raid earlier this week.

    The Lede's Robert Mackey reports: "Here is a new photograph (at right) of the marijuana growing just outside the walls of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, taken on Thursday by Nevine Mabro, a journalist for Britain's Channel 4 News."

    In an earlier post today, Mackey wrote "Nic Robertson of CNN reported that something interesting could be found along the outside of those walls: marijuana plants, growing alongside the cabbage and potatoes that were cultivated right next to the hiding place."

    (Nevine Mabro/Channel 4, via NYT's The Lede)

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  • abbottabadIn the flurry of questions in the aftermath of the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden, one line of inquiry has centered on the compound where bin Laden was found. Who in Pakistan knew he was living there? How did the al Qaeda mastermind spend seven years in safety, less than a mile away from the Pakistan army's elite officer academy? Who helped him hide in plain sight?

    Now records of the land in Abbottabad on which the compound was built, obtained by the Associated Press, identify the man who bought the property. In a series of methodical transactions beginning in 2004, the buyer is listed as Mohammed Arshad. And the records, combined with neighbors' and U.S. officials' accounts of the men who lived with bin Laden in the compound, suggest that Arshad was probably another alias for the Kuwaiti-born Pakistani courier for bin Laden known to the CIA for years as Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti. In Abbottabad, the man was apparently known as Arshad Khan.

    The Associated Press's Narar Khan and Nahal Toosi report:

    Property records obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday show that a man named Mohammed Arshad bought the land in Abbottabad where bin Laden's compound was built. He bought the adjoining plots in four stages between 2004 and 2005 and paid $48,000.

    Qazi Mahfooz Ul Haq, a doctor, told the AP that he sold a plot of land to Arshad in 2005. He said the buyer was a sturdily built man who had a tuft of hair under his lower lip. He spoke with an accent that sounded like it was from Waziristan, a tribal region close to Afghanistan that is home to many al-Qaida operatives.

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