Bin Laden remained active in targeting US-official

Updated: 2011-05-08 07:59


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WASHINGTON - The compound in Pakistan where US forces killed Osama bin Laden was an active command center from which he directed al Qaida, a senior intelligence official said on Saturday as he released videos showing bin Laden watching himself on tape and rehearsing speeches.

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The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said information carted away from the compound by US forces following Monday's raid represented the largest trove of intelligence ever obtained from a senior terrorism leader.

"This compound in Abbottabad was an active command and control center for al Qaida's top leader and it's clear ... that he was not just a strategic thinker for the group," the official said. "He was active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions."

The official released five video clips of bin Laden taken during the raid, most of them showing the al Qaida leader, his beard dyed black, evidently rehearsing the videotaped speeches he occasionally distributed to his followers.

The videos were released without sound.

The intelligence official said the sound had been stripped because the United States did not want to transmit bin Laden's propaganda. He said they contained the usual message "condemning US policy and denigrating capitalism."

The intelligence official's portrayal of bin Laden as an active threat to the United States followed several missteps by the Obama administration in its handling of news about the raid that killed the al Qaida leader.

Officials initially said US forces who attacked the compound engaged in a sustained firefight and bin Laden had been armed, but they later acknowledged the shooting had been limited to the first moments of the raid and bin Laden had been unarmed when killed.

The administration's changing story marred what was otherwise a major intelligence victory for Washington.

One of the videos released on Saturday was a "complete, yet unreleased" bin Laden tape he describes as "a message to the American people," the intelligence official said.

The video was believed to have been produced between October 9 and November 5, 2010, he said, adding it was unclear why it had not yet surfaced publicly.


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