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Osama bin Laden's letters, documents reveal rifts in Al Qaeda

The documents and letters found in Osama bin Laden's compound a year ago, which were published online, revealed divisions in Al Qaeda.

Osama bin laden letters al qaeda documents published online may 2012Enlarge
The letters and documents found in Osama bin Laden's compound last year were published online on May 3, 2012, revealing a divided Al Qaeda leadership. (BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images)

The letters and documents found in Osama bin Laden's compound last year were published online on Thursday, revealing a divided Al Qaeda leadership, according to The New York Times.

The leaders of the terrorist network that carried out the 9/11 attacks on American soil a decade ago were divided on a number of issues including affiliation with other extremist groups, a name change, how to win support from Muslims and how much they should target the United States, said The Times.

The documents, seized in Abbottabad last year during the raid on bin Laden's hideout, were published by the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point.  Seventeen documents out of an estimated 6,000 were published, according to the BBC.

A report from the center said, "On the basis of the 17 declassified documents, [bin Laden] was not, as many thought, the puppet master pulling the strings that set in motion jihadi groups around the world," according to Reuters. It continued, "[Bin Laden] was burdened by what he saw as their incompetence."

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The report also noted that, "Although references are made about ‘trusted Pakistani brothers,’ there are no explicit references to any institutional Pakistani support for al-Qaeda or its operatives," according to Bloomberg.

Bin Laden's frustration with Al Qaeda affiliates was apparent in the documents, especially concerning their attacks which claimed Muslim lives. The Wall Street Journal noted that one of the documents showed bin Laden writing to the Yemen affiliate of Al Qaeda and asking them to refocus their plans on attacking the US.

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In a letter dated from 2010, bin Laden wrote of correcting past mistakes, saying, "In doing so, we shall reclaim, God willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadis," according to BBC.

Bin Laden also took note of the Arab Spring, calling it a "formidable event" and hoping that media outreach and "guidance" would allow him to wield influence over the events, said the BBC.

The documents also addressed bin Laden's strained relationships with Pakistan and Iran, as well as debate over which American news networks were best suited to deliver Al Qaeda's message, according to Time.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120503/osama-bin-ladens-letters-documents-reveal-rifts-a