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

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Osama bin Laden killed in U.S. operation in Pakistan, White House says

U.S. officials last night said Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader and orchestrator of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and embassy bombings in 1998, had been killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan near the capital Islamabad.

White House officials say that four others were killed in the forty-minute raid that began at 2000 UTC yesterday—including a woman said to have been used as a human shield. One of those shot is thought to be bin Laden’s son. An American helicopter was lost due to mechanical failure, but no U.S. forces or civilians were killed.

Photograph of Osama bin Laden. Image: FBI.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the news in a statement late last night. “I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama said. He confirmed he had been told in August of a lead to the location of bin Laden, and approved the operation last week. The operation involved a “small team of Americans”, Obama said.

The operation, led by the CIA, occurred nearly ten years after the 9/11 attacks. CIA director Leon Panetta notified U.S. legislators Sunday about the news. His body was verified using several methods, including DNA testing with DNA from a dead sister’s body, stored in a Boston, Massachusetts hospital, as well as facial recognition. However, staff at the hospital in question—Massachusetts General Hospital—have not been able to “find any evidence” of the body ever being stored there. U.S. officials said his body was then buried at sea at around 0600 UTC today, “in accordance with Islamic law and traditions” and because of the difficulty of finding a country that would accept the remains of the world’s most wanted man. Saudi Arabia, the country in which Osama bin Laden was born, refused a U.S. offer to take the body.

Cquote1.svg I can report to the American people and to the world, that the U.S. has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden. Cquote2.svg
—Barack Obama

Celebrations in U.S.; European Parliament says world is ‘safer’

Following the President’s announcement, people started gathering in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., Times Square and Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York, to celebrate; singing the national anthem. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, said he hoped the death of bin Laden would “bring some closure and comfort to all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001”.

The U.S. government is reportedly expecting al-Qaeda to soon release what they are likely to call a “martyr tape”—an audio recording made by bin Laden to be broadcast after his death.

Although the death of the 54-year-old bin Laden, who was the most wanted person in the world, was greeted with celebration in the U.S., analysts have warned that al-Qaeda will “undoubtedly” launch a retaliatory attack. “I think the significance of what has happened cannot really be overstated,” John Gearson, director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London, said.

Americans gather at Ground Zero—the site of the World Trade Center—in New York to celebrate the death of bin Laden. Image: rxb.

“There will be concerns that there could be some sort of retaliation, that al-Qaeda may well want to demonstrate that they are still strong and still in the game.” He warned that U.S. officials may “lose their focus” after such a major victory, “and that will provide an opportunity for the remnants of al-Qaeda to reform and grow stronger.”

Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, appealed to Islamic militant fighters to use the opportunity of bin Laden’s death to abandon their groups. “Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: you cannot wait us out,” she said. “You cannot defeat us. But you can make the choice to abandon Al Qaeda and cooperate in a peaceful political process.”

The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said that “we have waken up in a safer world”, with the news bringing “safety to millions of people”, whilst U.S. senator John McCain sought to remind the American people to “be mindful that al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies are still lethal and determined enemies”. The Kremlin reiterated that “revenge is inescapable for all terrorists”, and that “only a joint struggle against global terrorism can bring a result”.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, sought to remind people bin Laden was “the world’s most prominent leader”, going on to say that “it was of great importance that he was still alive and active, and it is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world”. Mentioning that security at British embassies worldwide have been increased in the wake of the news, he reiterated that the death of the al-Qaeda leader was a “serious blow”, and that, “like any organisation that has suffered a serious blow, they will want to show in some way that they are still able to operate”.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, welcomed the news, along with many other European countries. He praised the “tenacity” of the U.S. attack, congratulating the “major blow” the move dealt to al-Qaeda. Eight French citizens were killed last week in a bomb blast in Marrakesh, and, although no group has yet claimed responsibility, it is speculated that al-Qaeda were behind the attack. Sarkozy paid homage to them, as well as other around the world, saying the “victims received justice today and France has thoughts for them and their families”.

Cquote1.svg It is unequivocally a good thing that he is no longer able to pursue terror, murder and mayhem in the world. Cquote2.svg
—William Hague, British Foreign Secretary

Pakistani involvement

Pakistani officials were not informed of the planned raid, with the White House saying this was “essential to the security of the operation and our personnel”. However Obama emphasised that cooperation with Pakistan had helped in finding bin Laden. The operation, described by one senior White House official as “a surgical raid by a small team designed to minimise collateral damage”, was not intended to take bin Laden alive. “It was a kill mission”, said one security official. Bin Laden died after being shot in the head.

Witnesses in Abbottabad have described how the U.S. forces carried out the raid on the compound, which had significant security features, including walls up to 18-foot high topped with barbed wire. “We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside,” one witness, who lives in the town of Bilal in Abbottabad, said. The man confirmed he had seen the wreckage of the U.S. military helicopter which crashed after experiencing mechanical difficulties.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the U.S. “operation was conducted [by] U.S. forces in accordance with declared U.S. policy that Osama bin Laden will be eliminated in a direct action by the U.S. forces, wherever found in the world”, noting that almost “30,000 Pakistani civilians” had been killed in terrorist attacks in recent years, with the “nation fully united in [its] resolve to eliminate terrorism”.

However, Pervez Musharraf, a former president of Pakistan, criticised the U.S. involvement, describing the operation as a “violation of [Pakistani] sovereignty,” and saying the raid was a “a failure of both Pakistani and U.S. intelligence”; he stressed it would have been “far better” if the Pakistani Special Services Grouphad carried out the attack. Musharraf went on to say he was “surprised” bin Laden was found in Abbottabad, but added the terrorist leader “had declared war against Pakistan”, and that the news came as a “victory for the people of Pakistan and all the peace loving people of the world”.

Pervez Musharraf, Former President of Pakistan.

The news that bin Laden was hiding just a few hundred metres from Pakistan Military Academy, a similar institution to the U.S. West Point Academy or the UK Sandhurst, has been met with embarrassment on behalf of the Pakistani government, and scepticism from others. “This is a serious blow to the credibility of Pakistan”, according to one Pakistani security analyst. Earlier today, Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai maintained he knew bin Laden was in Pakistan: “For 10 years we told NATO and the world community but for ten years they didn’t listen to our voice. They burned Afghanistan for ten years but Osama was in Islamabad.”

Whilst many governments worldwide welcomed the death of bin Laden, more than 800 people marched in the Pakistani city of Quetta, paying homage to bin Laden and burning a U.S. flag. According to the organizer, “Bin Laden was the hero of the Muslim world and after his martyrdom he has won the title of great mujahed”. At the march, pro-Taliban and anti-United States sentiments were chanted, before the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have denied that bin Laden has been killed, although in a conference call to several Pakistani media outlets, a rebel spoksperson threatened to seek revenge: “If Bin Laden attained martyrdom, then we will avenge his death and we will attack the governments of Pakistan and the United States and their security forces”.

Although no images of bin Laden’s body have been released, the Obama administration is, according to ABC News, in possession of gruesome photographs: a “massive head wound” where he took a bullet, with “blood and brains clearly visible”.

The price of oil has dropped following the announcement after speculation that the death of bin Laden will lower the risk of supply disruption in the Middle East, with a barrel of crude oil for June delivery falling by $1.92.

Cquote1.svg We saw four helicopters at around 2am. We were told to switch off lights of our homes and stay inside. Cquote2.svg
—Witness in Abbottabad, Pakistan

Leaked cables cause Australian concern

Leaked diplomatic cables between Australia and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have raised alert from the Australian Government after claims that they may affect relations with China. The documents were released by the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks. The cables between the then prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, revealed that China may be forced for integration into the international community. The secret documents also contained information of a conversation between Clinton and Rudd in Washington. In the interview, Rudd stated that China was “paranoid” about Taiwan and Tibet.

Kevin Michael Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Former Prime Minister of Australia.

The sensitive documents may place a strain on diplomatic relations between Australia and China. Despite this, Kevin Rudd reassured the public that the “robust” relationship between Australia and China wouldn’t sustain any substantial damage to the relations between the two countries.

At the heart of the leaks is Australian founder, Julian Assange. Wikileaks have now released 821 of their promised 251,287 US diplomatic cables. The cables are being released on a stage-by-stage basis. Earlier this week, Assange was arrested on suspicion of rape in London under a Swedish arrest warrant.

LeT’s annual military budget is USD 5.2 million

The annual military operations budget of terror outfit LeT is a whopping USD 5.2 million, according to a secret US document which gives details about the outfit’s fund raising activities, some of which comes through Jamaat-ud-Dawah’s charitable networks.

Logo of Lashkar-e-Taiba

The information is contained in a non-paper prepared by the American intelligence community, and shared with the Pakistan in August 2009 at the direction of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and gives a deep insight into the fund raising, financing and various outfits of LeT.

The document says that Hafiz Saeed continues to lead both the LeT and its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawah and that some of the funds collected in the name of charitable activities have also been used for planning terror attacks.

China blocked efforts to put sanctions on JuD, Hafiz Saeed

At Islamabad’s behest, China blocked efforts in the UN Security Council to slap sanctions against JuD and its leader Hafiz Saeed which were operating against India from Pakistan, according to information contained in a secret American diplomatic cable.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Founder, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

A State Department cable signed off by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released by WikiLeaks also suggests that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa continues to operate and raise funds and it was unclear what steps the Pakistan government has taken to freeze its assets to implement UN sanctions.

According to the cable dated August 10, 2009, originating from Clinton, a US request to list Hafiz Saeed on a sanctions list was put on hold before the Mumbai terror attack that India blames on the JuD founder.

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