Letters: Bin Laden plotted to kill Obama

May 3, 2012 at 1:36 PM
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WEST POINT, N.Y., May 3 (UPI) -- Osama bin Laden said he wanted to kill U.S. President Obama because his death would mean an "utterly unprepared" Vice President Joe Biden would be president.

Bin Laden's comments were in a letter among the cache of documents seized by U.S. Navy SEALs after the May 2, 2011, raid in which the al-Qaida founder was killed in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The letters were declassified and released Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, N.Y.

Bin Laden's jihadist organization is responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets around the world.

In the letter, bin Laden sought an update on a plan to kill Obama or Gen. David Petraeus, the NATO commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan -- but said followers weren't to target Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates of Joint Chiefs of Staff leader Michael Mullen.

"The groups will remain on the lookout for Obama or Petraeus," bin Laden explained in his letter. "The reason for concentrating on them is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency for the remainder of the term, as it is the norm over there. Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis."

"As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour in this last year of the war, and killing him would alter the war's path."

Along with the letters, the center issued a report on the electronic letters or drafts that totaled 175 pages in Arabic and 197 pages when translated into English.

The center said the earliest letter was dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011.

While bin Laden's public statements focused on the those he perceived to be the enemies of Muslims, the focus of his private letters was "Muslims' suffering at the hands of his jihadi 'brothers,'" the report said.

"He was at pains advising them to abort domestic attacks that cause Muslim civilian casualties and instead focus on the United States, 'our desired goal,'" the report said.

The letter also revealed that the relationship of so-called al-Qaida Central and its affiliated groups wasn't in sync and bin Laden "enjoyed little control" over the affiliated networks. The letters also indicated bin Laden had a testy relationship with affiliate leaders.

A letter written in April 2011 discussed bin Laden's response to the Arab Spring that was sweeping long-standing regimes out of countries in the Middle East and northern Africa.

He said he considered the Arab Spring a "formidable event" for Muslims and indicated he would formulate a strategy to respond. Among other things, bin Laden said he wanted to undertake a media campaign to incite "people who have not yet revolted and exhort them to rebel against the rulers."

Al-Qaida was so distrusted among Muslims that bin Laden considered changing the terror network's name, the documents indicated. Because of this lack of trust and respect, due to badly thought-out terrorist activities, bin Laden warned other Islamist extremist groups to keep their public distance.

The publication of the terror network's documents -- available at http://www.ctc.usma.edu -- came amid Republican criticism that Obama was using the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death for political gain.

Their release comes a day after Obama returned from an unannounced visit to Afghanistan to sign an agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai meant to address the U.S. role in the country after the U.S.-led NATO alliance ends its combat mission in 2014.

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