Osama’s letters reveal frustration with jihadi groups

The CTS of the US Military Academy released 64-page `Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Laden Sidelined?` based on the 17-declassified documents provided to it by the US govt.

Washington: Osama bin Laden seemed frustrated with the local jihadi groups that caused sufferings on the Muslims and urged them to abort such attacks and instead focus on the US, documents seized by US forces from his Abbottabad safe house in Pakistan a year ago say.

"He (bin Laden) is at pain advising them to abort domestic attacks that cause Muslim civilian casualties and focus on the United States, `our desired goal`.

"Bin Ladin`s frustration with regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements is the most compelling story to be told on the basis of the 17 de-classified documents," Combating Terrorism Center (CTS) at West Point said today.

The CTS of the US Military Academy released 64-page `Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Laden Sidelined?` based on the 17-declassified documents provided to it by the US government.

These documents consist of electronic letters or draft letters, totaling 175 pages in the original Arabic and 197 pages in the English translation.
The earliest is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011.

Some of the letters are incomplete and/or are missing their dates, and not all of the letters explicitly attribute their author(s) and/or indicate the addressee.

"On the basis of these documents, the relationship between what has been labeled `al Qaeda Central` (AQC) under the leadership of Bin Laden is not in sync on the operational level with its so-called `affiliates`. .

"Bin Laden enjoyed little control over either groups affiliated with al-Qa`ida in name or so-called `fellow travelers` such as the TTP," the report says.

According to CTC, these documents show that al Qaeda`s
relationship with its so-called `affiliates` is a contested one among the senior leaders, and three different positions exist within al Qaeda on this subject.

"Some urge senior leaders to declare their distance, and even to dissociate themselves, from groups whose leaders do not consult with al Qa`ida but act in its name.

"Others urge the opposite, believing that the inclusion of regional jihadi groups in the fold contributes to al-Qa`ida`s growth and expansion. .

"Bin Ladin represented a third position; he wanted to maintain communication, through his own pen or that of others in his circle, with `brothers` everywhere, to urge restraint and provide advice even if it fell on deaf ears, without granting them formal unity with al Qaeda," it said.
Rather than a source of strength, bin Laden, according to CTC report, was burdened by what he viewed as the incompetence of the "affiliates", including their lack of political acumen to win public support, their media campaigns and their poorly planned operations which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Muslims.

While routinely described as "the most dangerous" al Qaeda affiliate, as of 2010-2011 bin Laden seemed to have spent more time worrying about al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) than appreciating its contributions.

In a strongly worded letter, the leader of AQAP, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was directly warned against pursuing any expansionist plan, such as declaring an Islamic state in Yemen, and was urged to refocus his efforts on attacking the US, not the Yemeni government or security forces.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) seems to have come incredibly close to provoking a direct and public confrontation with al Qaeda`s leadership.

Its indiscriminate attacks against Muslims caused Atiyyatullah and Abu Yahya al-Libi to write to TTP leader Hakimullah Mahsud to express their displeasure with the group`s "ideology, methods and behavior".

They also threatened to take public measures "unless we see from you serious and immediate practical and clear steps towards reforming (your ways) and dissociating yourself from these vile mistakes (that violate Islamic Law)," the report said.

The documents made available to CTS so far does not indicate any institutional Pakistani support to al Qaeda, it says.

"The discussion of Pakistan is scarce and inconclusive. Although references are made about `trusted Pakistani brothers`, there are no explicit references to any institutional Pakistani support for al Qaeda or its operatives," it said.
With respect to Iran, the documents show that it is an antagonistic relationship, largely based on indirect and unpleasant negotiations over the release of detained jihadis and their families, including members of bin Laden`s family.

In the Arab world, bin Laden wanted al Qaeda to focus its efforts on media outreach and "guidance".

He believed that a media campaign should be launched to incite "people who have not yet revolted and exhort them to rebel against the rulers."

But he also wanted to invest in guidance, "educating and warning Muslim people from those (who might tempt them to settle for) half solutions," such as engaging in the secular political process by forming political parties.
In Afghanistan, bin Ladin wanted jihadis to continue their fight against the US.

He believed that their efforts weakened the US, enabling Muslims elsewhere to revolt against their rulers, no longer fearing that the US would be in a powerful position to support these rulers, the CTC said.