Saturday, May 7, 2011

Osama bin Laden videos reveal his secret life

Five new video clips of Osama bin Laden released by the Pentagon on Saturday give us a glimpse of his secret life and have revealed that the deceased Al Qaeda leader was in active command of Al Qaeda and more than just a figurehead.

According to the Pentagon, bin Laden was a crafty leader, who maintained a carefully-manicured image for his videos that were released to the public.

Most importantly, though bin Laden was living in the mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the compound was "an active command and control center," a top US intelligence official said. "He was active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions within Al Qaeda."

This contradicts a statement made earlier this week by a Pakistani intelligence official that al Qaeda had divided into two factions and bin Laden was just a reduced figurehead, controlling the smaller faction.

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An Afghan man reads a newspaper article on Osama Bin Laden's death, at a roadside tea shop in KabulAfghan officials doubt Pakistan’s denials about Osama

While four video clips show bin Laden reading from a script, well-manicured and wearing a spotless white cap and shirt and yellow tunic, one video shows him in a non-propaganda moment. It shows bin Laden older than his age, wearing a black wool cap and a brown blanket draped round his shoulders. Interestingly, he is seen in front of the table, apparently cross-legged on a carpeted floor, using a remote control to flick between satellite video coverage and images of himself on a television screen. The video, which runs for over a minute, also showed bin Laden stroking his unkempt grey beard, not the usual black beard sported by him in propaganda videos.

One of the four recordings, which were meant for public consumption, was entitled "Message to the American People." It possibly contained the usual diatribe against the West and capitalism and was a call for Jihad. It was made sometime between October 9 and November 5. All the five videos have been silenced as the Pentagon is worried that the messages could be inflammatory.

The five video clips are part of a trove of information, including computer hard-drives, thumb drives, mobile phones and documents (both handwritten documents and printed material), which the U.S. special ops forces seized from last Monday's raid.

The U.S. intelligence officials are sifting through the data and initial conclusion is that bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan for more than seven years.

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