Nearly 200 pages of documents gathered from the Abbottabad compound where Osama bin Laden was killed were released Thursday, part of a massive tranche of electronic and handwritten documents, computer files and videos recovered from the site.
The 17 letters and draft letters pulled from the larger tranche, which intelligence officials have called the largest cache of senior terrorist information ever recovered, show a leadership concerned with the actions of its affiliates and eager to encourage unity among the worldwide Muslim community, or Ummah.
The documents were released exclusively by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which included an accompanying report detailing each document's author and intended recipient.
In one letter written most likely by Osama bin Laden or senior al-Qaeda member Atiyah Abd Al Rahman (killed by a drone strike in Pakistan in August 2011 based on intelligence from these reports) to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the author encouraged stability in Yemen among Muslim tribal leaders and factions.
"We do not want to trouble ourselves and our families in Yemen concerning this matter at this time...I believe that Yemen should be peaceful and kept as reserved military for the Ummah," the author wrote.
He goes onto encourage Yemenis with U.S. passports to carry out attacks inside the U.S. if Yemen's leadership did not accept the leadership's attempts at fashioning a truce.
"If the government does not agree on a truce, concentrate on the Yemeni emigrants who come back to visit Yemen and have American visas or citizenship and would be able to conduct operations inside America as long as they have not given their promises not to harm America," the author wrote. "We need to extend and develop our operations in America and not keep it limited to blowing up airplanes."
Other documents in the tranche show a leadership concerned about Muslim unity worldwide, mostly due to negative local response to the deaths of fellow Muslims at the hands of al-Qaeda affiliates.
Although some analysts say these letters and draft letters show a fragmented, worried al-Qaeda leadership, the CTC itself admitted that "given the small collection of documents released to the CTC, it is impossible to construct a coherent evolution of [Al-Qaeda] or its current state."
The release of the documents comes at the same time as the online publication of the newest issues of "Inspire," the Al-Qaeda newsletter. Two new editions have recently surfaced, the first since the killings to two top Al-Qaeda officials, American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and AQAP propagandist Samir Khan.
"Is the killing of Shaykh Anwar going to stop the individual jihadi?" the latest edition asks. "Indeed, the killing of a preacher only means the spreading of his message."
It is unclear if the Inspire release was timed to come out around the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. At this time, it is also unclear whether more of the 6,000-plus documents from the Abbottabad cache will be released.
by RTT Staff Writer
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