Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden urged his followers to stay away from Muslim infighting and focus on the US instead, according to newly-released documents. The papers were captured in the 2011 raid that killed Bin Laden.
American intelligence agencies declassified more than 100 documents on Wednesday, showing deep divide on strategy inside the terror network during final stages of Osama Bin Laden's life.
The translated documents, which include Bin Laden's letters to family members and his lieutenants, were found in the Pakistani compound where US Navy SEALs killed the terror network chief in May 2011.
They show that Bin Laden was pushing for large-scale terror operations, unlike other al Qaeda leaders.
"The focus should be on killing and fighting the American people and their representatives," Bin Laden wrote in one of the seized documents.
In addition, Bin Laden said that fighting the Middle East regimes would distract al Qaeda from attacking the US to force it to "leave the Muslims alone."
"We should stop operations against the army and the police in all regions, especially Yemen," he writes.
After Bin Laden's death, the new Al Qaeda leadership decided against his strategies and called for small-scale operations or individual attacks. The terror network is especially active in Yemen, which is torn apart by an escalating conflict.
'Path of jihad'
The release came shortly after US journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that the official version of the hunt for Bin Laden and his death was false. However, CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said the declassification had been planned for a while and had not been intended as a response to Hersh's report.
The documents also reveal that Bin Laden was working on smuggling his son and likely heir Hamza to the Pakistani compound. In a letter to his father, the 22-year old said he was on "the path of jihad," while other documents claim he was training with explosives.
"What truly makes me sad is the mujahidin legions have marched and I have not joined them," Hamza wrote to his father in July 2009, while under house arrest in Iran.
Hamza's current whereabouts remain a mystery, senior US intelligence officials said.
Bin Laden managed to bring his favorite wife and Hamza's mother to his compound, but warned her beforehand to leave everything behind in Iran before setting off.
"Since the Iranians are not to be trusted, it is possible to implant a chip in some of the belongings that you might have brought along with you," he wrote.
Al Qaeda in need of HR
Besides his personal documents and strategic discussions, the documents also show the struggles of al Qaeda in recruiting and training its operatives.
"Please enter the required information accurately and truthfully. Write clearly and legibly. Name, age, marital status. Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?" an application form says.
"Who should we contact in case you become a martyr?" it asks.
Al Qaeda's best jihadis were often known to enemy intelligence agencies and had trouble crossing borders. Young recruits, on the other hand, lacked the patience and training.
"We need a development and planning department," commented Bin Laden.
dj/msh (AFP, Reuters)