Date
23 May 2017
Osama bin Laden wrote an open letter to the American people saying the fight against al Qaeda was doomed, according to newly declassified documents. Photo: WSJ
Osama bin Laden wrote an open letter to the American people saying the fight against al Qaeda was doomed, according to newly declassified documents. Photo: WSJ

Bin Laden fixated on US targets to the end, documents show

Osama bin Laden was obsessed with the United States to the end and once wrote an open letter to the American people saying the fight against al Qaeda was doomed.

The letter was among items seized during the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan, according to newly declassified documents released Wednesday by the Office of National Intelligence.

The trove included more than 400 other records, books, news articles, and research reports it said were confiscated that day.

In the letter, Bin Laden said the vain US effort to bring down al Qaeda weakened the dollar and drove up military suicide rates, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“How will you win a war whose leaders are pessimistic and whose soldiers are committing suicide?” bin Laden wrote.

“If fear enters the hearts of men, winning the war becomes impossible. How will you win a war whose cost is like a hurricane blowing violently at your economy and weakening your dollar?”

Bin Laden was fixated on attacking US targets and pressured al Qaeda groups to heal local rivalries and focus on that cause, according to Reuters, citing the documents.

The documents revealed details of purported negotiations between al Qaeda, its allies in the Pakistani Taliban and representatives of Pakistani intelligence, and what seemed to be an al Qaeda job application.

A July 2010 letter showed that bin Laden pressed al Qaeda in Yemen, one of the group’s more active affiliates, to make peace with the government and focus on America.

Bin Laden’s view was that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ought to sign a truce with Yemeni authorities or arrange an accommodation in which Yemeni authorities would leave the group alone “in exchange for focusing on America.”

“The purpose is to focus on striking inside America and its interest abroad, especially oil producing countries, to agitate public opinion and to force US to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq,” according to a summary of the letter by a bin Laden associate identified as “Atiyyah”.

The papers included a 2001 document from the US military on “instruction on aircraft piracy and destruction of derelict airborne objects” and numerous records about how to obtain a US passport.

The compound also contained numerous world maps, according to the government.

In 2011, the US offered a US$25 million reward for information leading to the death or capture of bin Laden for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US that killed more than 3,000 people.

Since his death, al Qaeda has remained an active terrorist network but has been overshadowed at times by a splinter group of militants known as Islamic State.

“It is in the interest of the American public for citizens, academics, journalists, and historians to have the opportunity to read and understand bin Laden’s documents,”said Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said analysts were still reviewing more information allegedly seized during the raid and that “hundreds more” records could be declassified in the future.

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