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Laden micromanaged al Qaeda while hiding in Pakistan

Osama wrote hundreds of memos, letters and video messages containing explicit and detailed orders for his lieutenants, along with personal, security-obsessed missives for his family members, declassified files show.

Press Trust Of India

Updated:March 1, 2016, 8:39 PM IST
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osama bin laden
Osama wrote hundreds of memos, letters and video messages containing explicit and detailed orders for his lieutenants, along with personal, security-obsessed missives for his family members, declassified files show.

Washington: For years after the 9/11 terror attacks, top US officials claimed that Osama bin Laden was a man on the run and incapable of overseeing al Qaeda but newly declassified files seized from his hideout in Pakistan show he was operating more like a Fortune 500 CEO until he was killed in 2011.

Osama wrote hundreds of memos, letters and video messages containing explicit and detailed orders for his lieutenants, along with personal, security-obsessed missives for his family members, declassified files obtained by ABC News show.

"Bin Laden was very hands on with al Qaeda's day-to-day operations but he seemed somewhat out of touch," a senior US intelligence official familiar with the documents commented.

The 54-year-old al Qaeda leader, who had a USD 27 million bounty on his head, did all the work using a network of trusted couriers carrying tiny, easily concealable cell phone computer chips to carry his communications back and forth from his hideout in Abbottabad to relatives held in Iran, media outlets and his lieutenants in Somalia, Afghanistan, North Africa, Iraq and many other places, the report said.

Bin Laden in his letter to one of his wives, requested her advice on how to exploit the news media to hype the triumph of the upcoming tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"Of course you know how important they (the news media) are and how we need to exploit [9/11] in the media as the embodiment of the victories of Muslims."

He often inquired about his children and what they were being taught in school, gave advice on avoiding security surveillance - once fearing his wife may have been bugged without her knowledge - and made arrangements to move his relatives discreetly between countries and regions. The letters indicate his wife Khairiah was able to send her responses back to her husband.

For years, former President George W. Bush and his advisers spoke of bin Laden as "hiding in a cave" and dodging missiles from CIA drones.

One senior Bush administration official said in a 2004 speech that bin Laden "spends most of his time trying to figure out how 'they're going to come for me' and 'is this going to be the day?"

But by the time bin Laden settled in the Abbottabad house maintained by two Kuwaiti brothers around 2006 or 2007, the documents show he was operating more like a Fortune 500 chief executive, the report said.

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