Al Qaeda Confirms Bin Laden’s Death; CIA Spied From High-Tech Safe House

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Photo: AFP/Getty Images

On jihadist forums today, Al Qaeda released a statement confirming Osama bin Laden's death. The SITE monitoring agency that reported the news didn't say how Al Qaeda confirmed his death — perhaps he hadn't been returning their satellite phone calls? SITE also said Al Qaeda promised to continue its attacks on the West, calling bin Laden's death a curse "that chases the Americans and their agents." In an online statement, the militant terrorist group urged Pakistanis to "cleanse" the country of the shame of their leader's death by rising up against the government. Al Qaeda's statement comes just as notebooks from the Abbottabad compound dispel intelligence analysts' theories that bin Laden had been relegated to merely an inspirational role in the group's operations.

After examining computer files and documents, American intelligence officials now say that for years bin Laden had a direct role in plotting terror attacks, including some notes, though no direct plans, on a plot to tamper with U.S. rail systems on the anniversary of 9/11. The data trove taken from the compound also includes hard drives, DVDs, and thumb drives. A U.S. official told the New York Times:

“He wasn’t just a figurehead. He continued to plot and plan, to come up with ideas about targets and to communicate those ideas to other senior Qaeda leaders.”

New details have also emerged about the mission in Abbottabad, including a CIA safe house rented near the compound. For months, a surveillance team tried to avoid detection from Al Qaeda operatives, local police, and Pakistan's ISI. The officers watched from behind mirrored glass, using telephoto lenses and infrared imaging equipment, and picking up voices and intercepting cell-phone calls with eavesdropping technology. A satellite was used to check for escape tunnels. Although they saw a man they called "the pacer" take regular walks through the courtyard of the compound, they could never confirm it was bin Laden.

Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden death: monitoring group [Reuters]
Al Qaeda vows to continue attacks: SITE [Reuters]
Al-Qaeda confirms Osama bin Laden’s death; U.S. says CIA spied on terror mastermind from safe house [WP]
Data Show Bin Laden Plots; C.I.A. Hid Near Raided House [NYT]
Trove of data found at bin Laden hideout provides first specific alert [CNN]