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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.

The

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

delivered."

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

attacks.

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.

The video

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.

 

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