Videos show bin Laden watching himself on TV
WASHINGTON — From a shabby, makeshift office, he ran a global terrorist empire. The world's most wanted man watched newscasts of himself from a tiny television perched atop a rickety old desk cluttered with wires.
AP Photo/Aqeel Ahmed, File
This May 3,file photo shows a view of Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the day after a U.S. military raid that ended with the death of the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Holed up in the compound, bin Laden was scheming how to hit the United States hard again, according to newly uncovered documents that show al-Qaida plans for derailing an American train on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
For years, the world only saw Osama bin Laden in the rare propaganda
videos that trickled out, the ones portraying him as a charismatic
religious figure unfazed by being the target of worldwide manhunt.
On Saturday, the U.S. released a handful of videos, selected to show
bin Laden in a much more candid, unflattering light. In the short clips,
bin Laden appears hunched and tired, seated on the floor, watching
television wrapped in a wool blanket and wearing a knit cap. Outtakes of
his propaganda tapes show that they were heavily scripted affairs. He
dyed and trimmed his beard for the cameras, then shot and reshot his
remarks until the timing and lighting were just right.
videos were among the evidence seized by Navy SEALs after a pre-dawn
raid Monday that killed bin Laden in his walled Pakistani compound. The
movies, along with computer disks, thumb drives and handwritten notes,
reveal that bin Laden was still actively involved in planning and
directing al-Qaida's plots against the U.S., according to a senior U.S.
intelligence official who briefed reporters Saturday and insisted his
name not be used.
"The material found in the compound only
further confirms how important it was to go after Bin Laden," said CIA
director Leon Panetta in a statement Saturday. "Since 9/11, this is what
the American people have expected of us. In this critical operation, we
The videos were offered as further proof of bin
Laden's death. President Barack Obama decided this week not to release
photos of bin Laden's body, which were deemed too gruesome to reveal.
The U.S. has said it confirmed bin Laden's death using DNA. Al-Qaida has
confirmed the death of its founder.
Officials said the clips
shown to reporters were just part of the largest collection of senior
terrorist materials ever collected. The evidence seized during the raid
also includes phone numbers and documents that officials hope will help
break the back of the organization behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist
Among the material handed out was a propaganda video,
apparently intended for public release, entitled "Message to the
American People." The U.S. government released the video without sound
and said it was likely filmed sometime last fall. Bin Laden has not
released a video since 2007.
U.S. intelligence official would
not confirm that the video of bin Laden in the makeshift office was
filmed at the Pakistani compound, but they have said they believe he has
been holed up there for as long as six years.
clearly shows the terror leader choosing and changing channels with a
remote control which he points at what appears to be a satellite cable
box. U.S. officials have previously said there was a satellite dish for
television reception but no Internet or phone lines ran to the house.
Cellphones were prohibited on the compound.
Bin Laden and four
others were killed in a daring pre-dawn raid Monday after U.S.
helicopters lowered a team of SEALs behind the compound's high walls.
The terrorist leader's death leaves al-Qaida with an uncertain future
and represents America's most successful counterterrorism mission.