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Osama bin Laden documents released: Trove from al-Qaida leader’s compound declassified

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Bin Laden (AP/File)

A selection from more than 6,000 pages of documents seized during the May 1, 2011, raid that killed Osama bin Laden was released on Thursday by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), giving the public a rare glimpse of the al-Qaida leader's terror plans and his largely solitary life.

The center released a group of 17 documents totaling 175 pages, which had been uncovered by U.S. forces in bin Laden's Abbottabad compound. Shortly before 9 a.m. ET, the center posted on its website both the Arabic originals and versions translated and summarized in English.

As was previously reported, some of the documents show that bin Laden ordered the assassinations of President Barack Obama and U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, but did not have the resources to carry out the killings.

"Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President Joe] Biden take over the presidency for the remainder of the term, as it is the norm over there," bin Laden wrote in a letter to one of his top lieutenants. "Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour in this last year of the war, and killing him would alter the war's path."

The earliest letter is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011, the center said. Several al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden, Atiyya Abd al-Rahman, Abu Yahya al-Libi and Adam Gadahn, the terror group's American spokesman, authored the internal communications.

Given that the electronic documents were "saved on thumb drives, memory cards or the hard drive of bin Laden's computer," the center noted, it's unclear whether any of these letters reached their intended destinations.

In another letter, bin Laden vows to avenge the war in Afghanistan, while assuring one of his deputies that America does not have the financial resources to continue it.

"They struck us and we will strike them back," he wrote, according to the center's translation. "This year has been the worst year for them in Afghanistan since they invaded it. The number of their dead has never been this high according to their own reports. Their financial crisis continues. Britain has lowered its defense budget and America is reducing the budget of the Pentagon. Anyone who knows the world and knows politics, knows that it is impossible for them to continue with the war."

In another, bin Laden compares two of al-Qaida's enemies: Arab leaders and America, concluding that the U.S. should remain its most important target:

The Ummah is fighting an internal enemy, which are the leaders of the Arab World. The Ummah is also fighting an external enemy, which is America. Although the former is far more blasphemous, the latter is clearly the unbeliever. At this stage of our war with our enemies, America poses a greater threat to the Ummah than any other enemy. America is the head of the infidels. If God wills it, America's head can be cut off. Once the head has been removed, then it would be easier to cut off America's wings.


A January 2011 letter from Gadahn to an unknown recipient discusses al-Qaida's media strategy ahead of the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and explains where the group might focus its press efforts.

"From the professional point of view, they are all on one level—except [Fox News] channel which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks neutrality too," Gadahn wrote. "I used to think that MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit, but is has lately fired two of the most famous journalists—Keith Olberman and Octavia Nasser the Lebanese—because they released some statements that were open for argument."

Gadahn continued: "In conclusion, we can say that there is no single channel that we could rely on for our messages. [They] may ignore them, and even the channel that broadcast them, probably it would distort them somehow. Or they may ignore the message and conduct a smearing of the individuals, to the end of the list of what you know about their cunning methods."

He added: "As for Fox News, let her die in her anger."

Click here to to view the files on the Combating Terrorism Center website.

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