Abbotabad documents reveal Qaeda rift

The documents were released by the Combating Terrorism Center

Written by New York Times | Washington | Published:May 4, 2012 1:20 am

PETER BAKER

The senior leadership of al Qaeda was riven with divisive debates about tactics,strategy and even marketing in the months leading up to the raid that killed its leader,Osama bin Laden,a year ago,according to a cache of letters and other documents recovered from his compound and released Thursday.

Leaders of the terrorist group debated how closely to affiliate with other extremist organisations,how much it should target the US,how to win Muslims support,whether to attack drug runners to steal money and even whether the infamous network should change its name.

One document found in Osama’s Abbottabad compound suggested that the name al Qaeda had “lessened Muslims’ feelings that we belong to them” and lacked any religious connection. Proposed alternative names included Monotheism and Jihad Group,Muslim Unity Group,Islamic Nation Unification Party and Al-Asqa Liberation Group.

The documents were released by the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point,along with a report Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Laden Sidelined?

“He was at pains advising them to abort domestic attacks that cause Muslim civilian casualties and instead focus on the US,‘our desired goal,’” the center’s report said. “Bin Laden’s frustration with regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements is the most compelling story to be told on the basis of the 17 declassified documents.”

Some of Osama’s top lieutenants argued for disassociating with the branch outfits,while others pushed for more integration. Osama himself wanted to stay in touch with those groups and provide advice without fully incorporating them into Al Qaeda itself.

Osama clearly was not informed in advance of the attempted bombing of Times Square in May 2010,and he passed along remonstrations to the Pakistani Taliban,which sponsored it.

Osama did not seem to think much of Anwar al-Awlaki,the American-born militant killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

The documents suggested that Osama was not as close to his deputy and eventual successor,Ayman al-Zawahri,as some thought. Instead,another Qaeda leader named Atiyyatullah,who also went by Atiyya,appeared to be closest to Osama.

Osama lies 200 miles from Surat,claims treasure hunter

60-year-old Bill Warren,in an interview to Spanish newspaper El Mundo,claims to know where the body of Osama bin Laden was dumped. Warren,a marine explorer,said the body is 200 miles to the west of Surat,and that he needs $300,000 to verify its identity. Warren announced a mission to find and authenticate Osama’s remains in June last year. The explorer told El Mundo that he did not trust the government or President Obama,and wanted to ascertain that the body dumped in the ocean was,in fact,Osama’s.

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