Abbottabad hideout was 'active' command centre for Osama: US

Osama bin Laden
Washington, May 8: Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad hideout was an "active command and control centre" of al-Qaeda, the US has said, releasing five videos of the slain terror kingpin seized during the daring raid on his compound in Pakistan that showed how he "jealously guarded" his image.

Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound was "an active command and control centre" for al-Qaeda's top leader. It is clear that he was not just a strategic thinker of the group. He was active in operational planning and driving tactical decisions inside al-Qaeda," a senior intelligence official said, giving an insight into the lifestyle and personality of the al-Qaeda chief.

Authorities have removed audio from the five video clips released last night because it would be inappropriate to spread the words of terrorists and their propaganda messages, especially bin Laden's, the official explained, asserting that footage had not been altered in any other way.

The video clips, not seen in the public domain so far, were being released to underscore two main points: first, to make it clear that bin Laden remained active in al-Qaeda's terrorist propaganda operations, especially in shaping his own image. Second, it is highly unlikely that some of this footage would have resided anywhere else but with bin Laden, the official said.

The newly-released videos included one showing bin Laden -- in which his hair and beard are white -- watching images of himself on television inside his one million-dollar three-storey building, just 800 yards away from the Pakistan Military Academy in the garrison town of Abbottabad.

Wrapped in a brown blanket and holding a remote control, bin Laden was shown flipping back and forth between clips of himself. The small television was placed on top of a desk with wires running to a nearby cable or control box.

The world''s most wanted terrorist, killed by US special forces on May 2, "was far from a figurehead, he was an active player," the official said.

The material seized from his hideout included digital, audio and video files, printed items, computer equipment, recording devices and handwritten documents. "As a result of the raid, we have acquired the single largest collection of material from a senior terrorist ever."

"This is the greatest intelligence success perhaps of a generation," the official said.

"The treasure trove of information has provided some golden nuggets of information on communications within the al-Qaeda and we hope to get a better sense as it continues," he said.

The CIA, which has set up a task force, to go through every piece of material obtained during the raid, said that the US is still cataloging them.


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