Al-Qaeda says bin Laden death will ‘not be wasted’; Pentagon releases videos of terrorist leader in compound

Al-Qaeda has said it will continue to launch more terrorist attacks on the U.S. and warned the death of their leader Osama bin Laden, would “not be wasted”. The statement from the organization, posted on jihadist internet forums, came as the Pentagon released videos filmed inside the terrorist leader’s compound which was raided last weekend. Intelligence officials said at a briefing in Washington, D.C. that the videos showed that bin Laden was still playing an active role in al-Qaeda plotting.

Although the video tapes have no audio, they show bin Laden watching news coverage of himself on television and preparing to record a propaganda film. The tapes are the latest intelligence to emerge from computer equipment seized from bin Laden’s compound during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. special forces last weekend. Earlier this week it emerged bin Laden had been planning an attack on the American rail network on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacksthis year. U.S. officials yesterday stressed that the al-Qaeda plot was only “aspirational”, but involved derailing multiple trains by damaging rail lines at various sites.

Osama bin Laden making a video at his compound in Pakistan.

Tonight one intelligence official said the information gleaned from the computers was the “single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.” The computer equipment also revealed that there were hopes of attacking major transportation hubs, and that during the six years he lived at the compound in Pakistan, bin Laden stayed in close contact with senior affiliates and played an active role in developing terrorist plots. An unnamed U.S. official told The New York Times that bin Laden “wasn’t just a figurehead,” but “continued to plot and plan, to come up with ideas about targets and to communicate those ideas to other senior al-Qaeda leaders.”

Confirming the death of bin Laden in a statement this week, al-Qaeda said his killing would be a “curse” on the U.S. and its allies. “Their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears. We call upon our Muslim people in Pakistan, on whose land Sheikh Osama was killed, to rise up and revolt.” The revelation that al-Qaeda was planning more attacks against the U.S. comes only several days after officials warned the terrorist group was likely to be plotting a revenge attack to avenge the death of bin Laden.

‘We will never forget’

Four days after the raid on the compound, U.S. president Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York on Thursday to pay tribute to the 3,000 people killed in the September 11 attacks, for which al-Qaeda was found responsible. Bin Laden is believed to have masterminded the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. “When we say we will never forget, we mean what we say,” Obama told firefighters in the city. He laid a wreath made from red, white and blue flowers after meeting with relatives of the victims of the attacks. “We are going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act will see justice,” he said. After the wreath was laid, he stood with his head bowed for a moment of silence.

Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York on Thursday. Image: Chris Bridges.

The news of bin Laden’s death after a team of U.S. Navy Seals descended into the compound was greeted with celebrations across the U.S. on Sunday night, but concerns have been raised as to whether the killing was lawful after the terrorist leader’s daughter told Pakistani authorities that he had been captured and then killed. But Attorney General Eric Holder contradicted the statement, saying: “If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate.”

Obama’s visit came a day after he announced he would not be releasing images of bin Laden’s body. In an interview to be aired on CBS News, the president said: “It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence, as a propaganda tool.” The images—described as “very gruesome”—are reported to show bin Laden shot above the left eye, with parts of his brain exposed.

Growing rift in relations

As Obama travelled to New York, the growing rift between the relations of the U.S. and Pakistan was continuing to grow after officials in Islamabad said the U.S. president may have breached U.N. rules by ordering the raid, because Pakistan was not told in advance. Senior officials within the Pakistani army also ordered the number of American military personnel in the country to be cut to “minimum essential” levels. Salman Bashir, the Pakistani foreign secretary, strained relations further at a press conference when he said there were serious concerns that the U.S. had breached U.N. resolutions on sovereignty, and said Pakistan is determined to “uphold our sovereignty and safeguard our security”. Pakistani army officials risked tautening relations between the two countries again on Thursday as they announced they would consider cutting ties with Washington, D.C. if the U.S. mounted another unannounced raid on their soil, and said they would be expelling U.S. military personnel in retaliation.

The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, attacked "baseless speculation" that Pakistan was harboring bin Laden.

The conflict stems from the raid during the weekend on the Abbottabad compound. Pakistan says it was not informed about the raid, which involved U.S. helicopters flying into Pakistani airspace to drop commandos who raided the house. The rift has grown further after U.S. officials questioned how Pakistani intelligence allowed bin Laden to live in the compound, a short distance from a military training academy, and suggested the terrorist leader may have been harbored by the government. The director of the CIA said earlier this week that Pakistan was not informed about the raid because of fears he was being harbored by Pakistani officials who might warn him about the raid. The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, dismissed “baseless speculation” that his administration was sheltering bin Laden.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted tension between Washington and Pakistan over the raid had been exaggerated, and said she was keen to keep relations with Islamabad. “It is not always an easy relationship. You know that,” she said. “But, on the other hand, it is a productive one for both our countries and we are going to continue to cooperate between our governments, our militaries, our law-enforcement agencies, but most importantly between the American and Pakistani people.”

Cquote1.svg Their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears. Cquote2.svg

—al-Qaeda statement on Osama bin Laden’s death

Advertisements

Pakistani President met with protest on fifth day of UK tour

The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, was met with a 250-strong protest today, during his visit to Birmingham, England. The protest was held outside the International Convention Centre (ICC) venue in the British city, where the president addressed supporters of his Pakistan Peoples Party and leading figures of the Pakistani community. Al Jazeera reported that two shoes were thrown at Zardari as he delivered his address, by a man who reportedly managed to break through police barriers to make a personal protest against the President.

Pakistan is experiencing the worst flooding in eighty years and it has been reported that the floods have now hit 14 million people. The president has faced criticism for continuing his tour during the crisis and though the messages of the protesters were many and varied, shown by placards ranging from “Save Pakistan from American terror and Zardari” to “Stop killing innocent Christians, repeal blasphemy law 295 B and 295 A”, Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher said “[the] one thing they all agree on is that he should not be here.”

Demonstrators braved pelting rain to wave flags, and raise banners and placards in protest against the President's tour. Image: FireLyte-spyre.

Inside the ICC, speaking to a group of supporters, Mr Zadradi said the trip had been crucial in raising more than £20 million in aid from Britain and France and for resolving the diplomatic rift between Pakistan and Britain, caused by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments about alleged Pakistani terror links. David Cameron said on July 28 that “we cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and…promote the export of terror”. The Pakistani President has said that his European tour is essential to mend the diplomatic rift these comments have caused.

The President’s son has also defended the tour, saying “He’s doing the best he can and what he thinks is best to help the people of Pakistan.” He added that “his personal presence in Pakistan would not be able to raise this much money.”

The Financial Times said the President “struggled at times to be heard above the chanting of hundreds of supporters.” The chanting from the protesters arrayed outside the ICC could also be heard from where the President gave his speech. Many were calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

According to the Associated Press of Pakistan the President’s trip has been kept as cheap as possible, with Mr Zadradi staying in the “cheapest five-star hotel in Central London” while he met with Mr Cameron. But at today’s protest many held placards decrying the fact that while money was urgently needed in Pakistan the President was taking a tour that would cost the country. Two examples of such placards were: “Thousands dying president is holidaying” and “while Pakistan floods Zadradi enjoys”.

A protester holds a sign reading: "We Reject Mushrraf Policy on Kashmir" and "We Demand Pakistan National Stand on Kashmir." On the left can be seen the ICC, where the President gave his address. Image: FireLyte-spyre.

The demonstration was held in the shadow of the Hyatt Regency Hotel where Mr Zadradi has been staying. It is one of the most expensive hotels in Birmingham but the raised bridge that links directly to the ICC does provide the best security for the President.

Mohammed Khalil, a local official from the Tehreek-e-Insaf party, told the AFP that “He should be there organising for his own people. Instead he’s here with so many people. The government is paying all the expense for that. That money should be spent on the people of Pakistan, not on himself.” However the President’s son said millions had been raised from Britain and France because of the tour, and that the President would return once worldwide attention had died down.

The protest itself carried on for many hours, from before 2:00 in the afternoon until 4:25, when it ended with a prayer ceremony. The protest reflected the prominence of the Islamic faith in Pakistani culture, with a tarpaulin stretched on the ground to allow for Muslim prayer. National feeling was strong, shown by the numerous Pakistani flags being flown, and the presence of the closing religious ceremony and Islamic prayer mirrors the close-knit relationship nationalist and religious feeling have in Pakistan.

%d bloggers like this: