With the raid on a large compound in Abbottabad, the myth that al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden lived moving from cave to cave in the Pakistani frontier was laid to rest. And as US intelligence analysts comb through the data seized at the compound, another myth, that bin Laden played merely an inspirational role in al Qaeda, has also died. From The New York Times:
After reviewing computer files and documents seized at the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed, American intelligence analysts have concluded that the chief of Al Qaeda played a direct role for years in plotting terror attacks from his hide-out in Abbottabad, Pakistan, United States officials said Thursday….
The documents taken at the Abbottabad compound, according to American officials, show that Bin Laden was in touch regularly with the terror network he created. With his whereabouts and activities a mystery in recent years, many intelligence analysts and terrorism experts had concluded that he had been relegated to an inspirational figure with little role in current and future Qaeda operations.
A rushed examination of the trove of materials from the compound in Pakistan prompted Obama administration officials on Thursday to issue a warning that Al Qaeda last year had considered attacks on American railroads.
The documents include a handwritten notebook from February 2010 that discusses tampering with tracks to derail a train on a bridge, possibly on Christmas, New Year’s Day, the day of the State of the Union address or the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, officials said. But they said there was no evidence of a specific plot.
An Obama administration official said that documents about attacking railroads were among the first to be translated from Arabic and analyzed. The materials, along with others reviewed in the intelligence cache, have given intelligence officials a much richer picture of the Qaeda founder’s leadership of the network as he tried to elude a global dragnet.
“He wasn’t just a figurehead,” said one American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, who had been briefed on the documents. “He continued to plot and plan, to come up with ideas about targets and to communicate those ideas to other senior Qaeda leaders.”
Now, it should have been clear that bin Laden played an active role in the terror organization after it was disclosed he ordered Mumbai-like attacks in Europe last year.