US: Bin Laden compound was al-Qaida command center

US intel releases videos of bin Laden, most of them showing al-Qaida leader rehearsing messages he distributed to his followers.

May 7, 2011 20:56
1 minute read.
Osama bin Laden is shown watching himself on TV

Bin Laden watches TV 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - The compound in Pakistan where US forces killed Osama bin Laden was an "active command and control center" where the al-Qaida leader retained strategic, operational and tactical direction of the group, a senior US intelligence official said on Saturday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said information recovered from the raid on bin Laden's compound represented the largest trove of intelligence ever obtained from a single terrorism suspect.

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"This compound in Abbottabad was an active command and control center for al-Qaida's top leader and it's clear ... that he was not just a strategic thinker for the group," the official said. "He was active in operational planning and in driving tactical decisions."

The official released five video clips of bin Laden taken from the compound, most of them showing the al-Qaida leader evidently rehearsing for some of the videotape messages he occasionally distributed to his followers.

One video segment, however, showed a gray-bearded bin Laden wrapped in a blanket and apparently wearing a ski cap while reviewing video images of himself in different settings.

It was not clear where the videos had been taped, but an initial assessment indicated one clip in front of an armoire may have been recorded at the compound.

"The materials reviewed over the past several days clearly show that bin Laden remained an active leader in al-Qaida, providing strategic, operational and tactical instructions to the group," the official said. "He was far from a figurehead. He was an active player, making the recent operation even more essential for our nation's security."

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