Inside bin Laden's lair

2012-04-30 22:21
Washington - The United States plans this week to publish documents seized from Osama bin Laden's hideout in which he complained of "disaster after disaster" befalling al-Qaeda.

"In documents we seized, he confessed to 'disaster after disaster'," said top White House counter-terror official John Brennan, announcing the material would be published online by West Point's Combating Terrorism Centre.

On the eve of the anniversary of bin Laden's death in a US special forces raid, Brennan said that US intelligence analysts had learned that al-Qaeda had experienced trouble replacing commanders killed in US operations.

Things got so bad for the group which plotted the September 11 attacks, the deadliest terror strike in US history, that bin Laden's considered changing the group's name.

"With its most skilled and experienced commanders being lost so quickly, al-Qaeda has had trouble replacing them," Brennan said.

"This is one of the many conclusions we have been able to draw from documents seized at bin Laden's compound.

"For example, bin Laden worried about - and I quote - 'the rise of lower leaders who are not as experienced and this would lead to the repeat of mistakes'," Brennan said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

Brennan said in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars that the documents show that bin Laden urged his movement's leaders to flee Pakistan's tribal regions and seek refuge in areas free of "aircraft photography and bombardment".

Next generation

And he added that al-Qaeda was still struggling to fill the top ranks of its leadership under intense US assault.

"Under intense pressure in the tribal regions of Pakistan, they have fewer places to train and groom the next generation of operatives.

"They're struggling to attract new recruits. Morale is low, with intelligence indicating that some members are giving up and returning home, no doubt aware that this is a fight they will never win.

"In short, al-Qaeda is losing, badly. And bin Laden knew it," Brennan said.

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