US intel officials mining bin Laden's computers

White House unsure whether to release ‘inflammatory’ photographs of slain al-Qaida leader; identifying terror targets from seized documents.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDE
May 4, 2011 01:13
2 minute read.
Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan

Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan 311. (photo credit: US Department of Defense)

 
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WASHINGTON – United States intelligence officials are mining a trove of computer equipment captured in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound Sunday for information about future attacks, and other terror networks.

The US hopes they will be able to identify other high-value targets – as well as better understand the support network that sustained bin Laden in his massive compound in an affluent town, some 50 kilometers from Islamabad, for roughly five years.

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The Navy SEALs who conducted the raid reportedly obtained five computers, 10 hard drives and 100 storage devices.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, who spoke about the seized hardware at Tuesday’s press briefing, said the US also had several photographs of bin Laden himself – but were reserving judgment on whether to release them.

Carney said the photos that most clearly showed his identity were “gruesome,” with a massive open head wound across both eyes – adding that the US administration is considering the “inflammatory” nature of the photos before releasing them.

Skeptics have been calling for the photos to be released as evidence that bin Laden is truly dead, and Carney indicated the issue was currently under review.

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He said the issue was whether a release would “in any way harm our interests... not just domestically, but globally.”

Carney also offered clarifying details of the raid, saying that bin Laden was unarmed and that his wife had been shot in the leg during the raid, but not killed, after she charged one of the US SEALs to protect her husband.

Another woman on a lower floor was killed in the crossfire, he said, though previously White House officials had referred to the use of a woman as a human shield.

He also specified that while bin Laden had resisted, he personally was not armed. However, Carney said many other militants in the compound did have firepower, leading to a “highly volatile” firefight preceding bin Laden’s death.

Carney also stressed that Sunday’s target was more than simply an effort to eliminate bin Laden.

“Lopping the head off the snake is important – but the body, while battered and bruised by the actions that we’ve taken over the years, is still there. We need to keep the fight up against al-Qaida,” he said.

White House counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, said earlier Tuesday on NBC that the administration believes it can destroy al-Qaida.

The organization bin Laden once headed has received “severe body blows” over the past year, he said “We’re determined to do so, and we believe we can.”

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