(WASHINGTON) — After the Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote about papers found in the Osama bin Laden compound, now ABC News can confirm that bin Laden wrote to others in al Qaeda about a plot to kill President Obama and General David Petraeus, then the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Bin Laden wrote, “The reason for concentrating on them, is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency. … Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour … and killing him would alter the (Afghanistan) war’s path.”
A national security official downplayed the plot to ABC News, saying that bin Laden “clearly had bold ambitions to kill as many innocent people as possible. But al Qaeda’s capabilities did not match Bin Laden’s intent. Leading up to and since bin Laden’s death we know that al Qaeda’s capacity to pull off those types of complex attacks has been greatly diminished, and that bin Laden himself spent much of his time brooding and providing guidance that often fell on deaf ears.”
Sources also confirm to ABC News that the papers revealed that bin Laden had much concern about the damage done to al Qaeda’s image among Muslims because of “miscalculations” that resulted “spilling Muslim blood.”
“Making these mistakes is a great issue,” bin Laden wrote, and has caused “the alienation of most of the nation from the Mujahidin.” OBL wanted local AQ affiliates to “apologize and be held responsible for what happened.” He brainstormed about new names for the group. Only using “al Qaeda” as opposed to the group’s full name Qaeda al-Jihad, which ”reduces the feeling of Muslims that we belong to them.”
A national security official tells ABC News that “part of the picture that emerges from these documents is a portrait of a weakened and beleaguered core al Qaeda — an organization rife with internal disputes over its global strategy and operational priorities — and whose now-deceased leader was obsessively focused on the group’s own image. These documents contain correspondence — some undated — between bin Laden and his key lieutenants.”
The official referred to the letter in which bin Laden proposed changing al Qaeda’s name “because of the group’s declining public image, presumably because of their indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims, and loss of control over its narrative. The letters show a brooding, frustrated and isolated bin Laden who because of the extreme tempo of international counterterrorism efforts is disconnected from other members of his organization and from the realities on the ground.”
Intelligence analysts “have spent countless hours reviewing documents, correspondence, video and other items taken from bin Laden’s compound. The United States is working to declassify and make public as much of that information as possible, however that won’t be completed for some months,” the official said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN
Ray Sanchez, Zayn Nabbi, Euan McKirdy and Angela Dewan, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Samantha Beech, CNN