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Bin Laden Was Still Running al-Qaeda

He urged fighters to attack small cities, trains: documents
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2011 8:27 AM CDT
Bin Laden Was Still Running al-Qaeda
In this April 1998 file photo, exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this April 1998 picture in Afghanistan.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – Osama bin Laden wasn’t just the symbolic figurehead that many Western officials thought he was. Documents and a private journal recovered in the raid on his compound reveal that bin Laden actually helped plan every recent major al-Qaeda plot the US is aware of, including plots in Europe last year, officials tell the AP, shattering the conventional thinking that he had been reduced through isolation to serving as inspiration, rather than as a leader. They also reveal some of the grim general marching orders bin Laden gave his troops.

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Bin Laden told fighters to hit small cities as well as big ones, to consider Los Angeles, to hit trains as well as planes, and to strike on significant dates like July 4 or the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks whenever possible. In one missive, he tells them they’re not killing enough Americans at one time, that it would take another attack killing thousands to change US policy. The communications were in missives sent via plug-in computer storage devices called flash drives. The devices were ferried to bin Laden's compound by couriers, a process that is slow but exceptionally difficult to track. Click here for more on his hand-written journal. (Read more Osama bin Laden stories.)

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