Washington – When he was killed by US Navy commandos, Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was plotting a coordinated media push to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
According to documents seized in the May 2011 raid that ended the militant leader’s decade on the run, he was planning a video address and jihadist propaganda blitz.
US intelligence agencies declassified around 100 of the documents on Wednesday and provided translations to AFP, which was not able to independently verify their authenticity.
“We are awaiting the tenth anniversary of the blessed attacks on New York and Washington which will be in nine months,” Bin Laden wrote in letter to his allies found in the raid.
“You are well aware of its importance and the importance of taking advantage of the anniversary in the media to embody the victories of Muslims and communicate what we want to communicate to people.”
When US intelligence caught up with him in 2011, Bin Laden was living secretly in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, communicating with his network by courier.
The documents revealed Wednesday show that he was having difficulty organizing large-scale attacks against the West, but was determined to take full credit for past successes.
“I have been in correspondence with the brothers to provide Al Jazeera with several statements when the channel starts covering the attacks on the first of September,” he said, referring to the Qatar-based news network.
“I have sent you a video statement about two months ago but it has not been broadcast in the media yet. I plan to redo it before broadcasting it,” he added.
In a separate message dated April 5, 2011, Bin Laden’s right hand man Atiyah Abd al Rahman, a commander known in Al-Qaeda as Mahmud, offered advice on the content.
“It should contain instructions and reminders to the youth and the entire nation. It should be generic and not go into details. It should also urge people to continue on the path of jihad, repentance and return to God.”
But on May 2 — four months before the United States was to pay tribute to the almost 3,000 people slain when Al-Qaeda hijackers crashed planes into New York and Washington landmarks — US forces stormed the house and killed Bin Laden.
In the raid, Navy SEALs seized a Bin Laden video, but a copy must have been made. On September 12, Al-Qaeda released a statement from the group’s surviving deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri along with the Bin Laden footage.