By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
With the blessing of the Obama administration, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point this morning published 17 declassified letters and documents recovered from Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The letters or draft letters-highlighted in a report called Letters from Abbotabad: Bin Laden Sidelined?-- total 175 pages in the original Arabic and 197 pages in the English translation. The earliest is dated September 2006 and the latest April 2011. The originials and translations are now available on the CTC website.
In one letter from 2010, bin Laden wrote: "I plan to release a statement [announcing] that we are starting a new phase to correct [the mistakes] we made; in doing so, we shall reclaim, God willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadis".
According to a CTC analysis, bin Laden's frustration with regional jihadi groups and apparent inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements was the "most compelling" narrative that comes across from the 17 declassified document.
In another letter to an unknown "shakyh," the American-born Al Qaeda propagandist Adam Gadahn calls for AQ followers to remain faithful to the principles for which al-Qaeda stands, and urges senior leaders to distance themselves from groups whose leaders do not consult with al-Qaeda but say they're acting in their name.
"Is this the justice that we preach and that Shaykh [Bin Ladin] preaches in his statements and letters," Gadahn writes.
From the CTC report:
Some of the letters are incomplete and/or are missing their dates, and not all of the letters explicitly attribute their author(s) and/or indicate the addressee.
In addition to Bin Ladin, the recognizable individuals who appear in the letters either as authors or as recipients are `Atiyyatullah and Abu Yahya al-Libi, both of whom are al-Qa`ida leaders; Adam Yahya Gadahn, the American al-Qa`ida spokesman and media advisor; Mukhtar Abu al-Zubayr, the leader of the Somali militant group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahidin; Abu Basir (Nasir al-Wuhayshi), the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); and Hakimullah Mahsud, the leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Given the small collection of documents released to the CTC, it is impossible to construct a coherent evolution of al-Qa`ida or its current state.