Al-Qaeda says bin Laden death will 'not be wasted'; Pentagon releases videos of terrorist leader in compound

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Still from a video seized by the U.S. during the Abbottabad raid

Al-Qaeda has said it will continue to launch more terrorist attacks on the U.S. and warned the death of their leader Osama bin Laden, would "not be wasted". The statement from the organization, posted on jihadist internet forums, came as the Pentagon released videos filmed inside the terrorist leader's compound which was raided last weekend. Intelligence officials said at a briefing in Washington, D.C. that the videos showed that bin Laden was still playing an active role in al-Qaeda plotting.

Although the video tapes have no audio, they show bin Laden watching news coverage of himself on television and preparing to record a propaganda film. The tapes are the latest intelligence to emerge from computer equipment seized from bin Laden's compound during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. special forces last weekend. Earlier this week it emerged bin Laden had been planning an attack on the American rail network on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks this year. U.S. officials yesterday stressed that the al-Qaeda plot was only "aspirational", but involved derailing multiple trains by damaging rail lines at various sites.

Cquote1.svg Their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears. Cquote2.svg

—al-Qaeda statement on Osama bin Laden's death

Tonight one intelligence official said the information gleaned from the computers was the "single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever." The computer equipment also revealed that there were hopes of attacking major transportation hubs, and that during the six years he lived at the compound in Pakistan, bin Laden stayed in close contact with senior affiliates and played an active role in developing terrorist plots. An unnamed U.S. official told The New York Times that bin Laden "wasn't just a figurehead," but "continued to plot and plan, to come up with ideas about targets and to communicate those ideas to other senior al-Qaeda leaders."

Confirming the death of bin Laden in a statement this week, al-Qaeda said his killing would be a "curse" on the U.S. and its allies. "Their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears. We call upon our Muslim people in Pakistan, on whose land Sheikh Osama was killed, to rise up and revolt." The revelation that al-Qaeda was planning more attacks against the U.S. comes only several days after officials warned the terrorist group was likely to be plotting a revenge attack to avenge the death of bin Laden.

Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York on Thursday.
Image: Chris Bridges.

'We will never forget'

Four days after the raid on the compound, U.S. president Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York on Thursday to pay tribute to the 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks, for which al-Qaeda was found responsible. Bin Laden is believed to have masterminded the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. "When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say," Obama told firefighters in the city. He laid a wreath made from red, white and blue flowers after meeting with relatives of the victims of the attacks. "We are going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act will see justice," he said. After the wreath was laid, he stood with his head bowed for a moment of silence.

Cquote1.svg When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say. We are going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act will see justice. Cquote2.svg

Barack Obama

The news of bin Laden's death after a team of U.S. Navy Seals descended into the compound was greeted with celebrations across the U.S. on Sunday night, but concerns have been raised as to whether the killing was lawful after the terrorist leader's daughter told Pakistani authorities that he had been captured and then killed. But Attorney General Eric Holder contradicted the statement, saying: "If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate."

Obama's visit came a day after he announced he would not be releasing images of bin Laden's body. In an interview to be aired on CBS News, the president said: "It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool." The images—described as "very gruesome"—are reported to show bin Laden shot above the left eye, with parts of his brain exposed.

Growing rift in relations

As Obama travelled to New York, the growing rift between the relations of the U.S. and Pakistan was continuing to grow after officials in Islamabad said the U.S. president may have breached U.N. rules by ordering the raid, because Pakistan was not told in advance. Senior officials within the Pakistani army also ordered the number of American military personnel in the country to be cut to "minimum essential" levels. Salman Bashir, the Pakistani foreign secretary, strained relations further at a press conference when he said there were serious concerns that the U.S. had breached U.N. resolutions on sovereignty, and said Pakistan is determined to "uphold our sovereignty and safeguard our security". Pakistani army officials risked tautening relations between the two countries again on Thursday as they announced they would consider cutting ties with Washington, D.C. if the U.S. mounted another unannounced raid on their soil, and said they would be expelling U.S. military personnel in retaliation.

The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, attacked "baseless speculation" that Pakistan was harboring bin Laden.

The conflict stems from the raid during the weekend on the Abbottabad compound. Pakistan says it was not informed about the raid, which involved U.S. helicopters flying into Pakistani airspace to drop commandos who raided the house. The rift has grown further after U.S. officials questioned how Pakistani intelligence allowed bin Laden to live in the compound, a short distance from a military training academy, and suggested the terrorist leader may have been harbored by the government. The director of the CIA said earlier this week that Pakistan was not informed about the raid because of fears he was being harbored by Pakistani officials who might warn him about the raid. The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, dismissed "baseless speculation" that his administration was sheltering bin Laden.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted tension between Washington and Pakistan over the raid had been exaggerated, and said she was keen to keep relations with Islamabad. "It is not always an easy relationship. You know that," she said. "But, on the other hand, it is a productive one for both our countries and we are going to continue to cooperate between our governments, our militaries, our law-enforcement agencies, but most importantly between the American and Pakistani people."

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