US prosecutors yesterday presented declassified al-Qaeda documents obtained after the 2011 raid of Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound at the trial of a man charged in a British terrorism plot. The al-Qaeda documents, read by the FBI linguist who translated them from Arabic, were presented at the trial of Abid Naseer and discussed terror attacks in Britain and Russia, including plans to bomb a pipeline or the US embassy in the latter country. Naseer, who's from Pakistan, has pleaded not guilty and is defending himself in federal court in Brooklyn. Naseer headed a British al-Qaeda terror cell that in 2009 was part of a broader conspiracy to commit attacks in the United Kingdom, New York, and Denmark, prosecutors have charged.
The documents discuss a range of al-Qaeda business, from operational tactics to training methods and suggestions on how to avoid detection by law enforcement. One letter suggests that attacking the continental US "in its heartland ... has the most significance" and "cannot be compared" to an attack outside the country. The goal of an attack would be "to pressure 300 million Americans" to make their elected officials end the US war against al-Qaeda and its goal of establishing an Islamic state, the letters said. None of the letters mentioned Naseer by name. Also yesterday, top FBI counterterror official Alexander Otte testified that he traveled to Afghanistan and managed the handling of evidence recovered after the bin Laden raid, saying that he saw bin Laden's body after it was returned to a military hangar. "I knew who he was, and I recognized him immediately," he said. (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)