National/World

Home videos show Osama bin Laden watching himself on TV

Saturday, May 07, 2011
This footage released by the U.S. Department of Defense shows Osama bin Laden watching himself on television. This footage released by the U.S. Department of Defense shows Osama bin Laden in a video message. (No audio) This footage released by the U.S. Department of Defense shows Osama bin Laden in a video message. (No audio) This footage released by the U.S. Department of Defense shows Osama bin Laden in a video message. (No audio) This footage released by the U.S. Department of Defense shows Osama bin Laden in a video message. (No audio)

Newly released videos show Osama bin Laden watching himself on television and rehearsing for terrorist videos.

The tapes show that even within the confines of his Pakistani hideout, he remained a media maestro who was eager to craft his own image for the cameras.

What the videos portray

The videos, released by U.S. intelligence officials Saturday, were offered as further proof that Navy SEALs killed bin Laden this week. The tapes also served to show bin Laden as vain, someone obsessed with his portrayal by the world's media.

One of the movies shows bin Laden wrapped in a brown blanket and sitting on the floor with remote in hand as he flipped back and forth from what appears to be live news coverage of himself. His beard is unkempt and streaked in gray.

In another movie, he has apparently dyed and neatly trimmed his beard for the filming of a propaganda video. The video, which the U.S. released without sound, was titled "Message to the American People" and was believed to be filed sometime last fall, a senior intelligence official said during a briefing for reporters, on condition that his name not be used.

The videos were seized from bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Officials said the clips shown to reporters were just part of the largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever collected. The evidence seized during the raid also includes phone numbers and documents that officials hope will help break the back of the organization behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

These tapes are among the wealth of information seized during the raid that killed bin Laden and four others. This collection of data suggests bin Laden played a strong role in planning attacks by al Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, senior security officials said.

Officials say they have already learned a great deal from bin Laden's cache of computers and data, but they would not confirm reports that it yielded clues to the whereabouts of al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.

Al-Zawahri is a leading candidate to take bin Laden's place as the leader of the terror group.

U.S. continues hunt for top al Qaeda commanders

U.S. authorities also said the sheer wealth of data found further demonstrates that top al Qaeda key insurgents are scattered throughout Pakistan, not just in the rugged border areas, and are being supported and given sanctuary by Pakistanis.

Taking out top al Qaeda officials remains a top priority for the U.S., despite protests from Pakistan. That campaign will not be swayed by Islamabad's complaints that the raid violated the country's sovereignty, a senior defense official said Friday.

Already the Afghan Taliban has warned that bin Laden's death will only boost morale of insurgents battling the U.S. and its NATO allies. Al Qaeda itself vowed revenge, confirming bin Laden's death for the first time but saying that Americans' "happiness will turn to sadness."

For its part, the U.S. has already launched at least one drone strike into Pakistan in the days since bin Laden was killed, and there is no suggestion those will be curtailed at all.

These strikes are expected to continue in the coming days as U.S. military and intelligence officials try to take quick advantage of the data they swept up in the raid before insurgents have a chance to change plans or locations.

U.S., Pakistan relations strained

The raid on bin Laden's compound deep inside the Pakistan border has further eroded already strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, and angry Pakistani officials have said they want the U.S. to reduce its military presence in their country. The Pakistani army, while acknowledging it failed to find bin Laden, said it would review cooperation with the U.S. if there is another similar attack.

Officials in Pakistan have denied sheltering bin Laden, and they have criticized the U.S. operation as a violation of their country's sovereignty.

President Barack Obama has made it clear that the U.S. will take action wherever necessary to root out al Qaeda, which has declared war on the United States and has been using Pakistan as a base to plot and direct attacks from there and other insurgent locations around the world.

Though U.S. leaders have not directly accused the Pakistani government of being complicit in the existence of sanctuaries that have cloaked bin Laden, they say it strains credibility that the most wanted man in the world could have been in living in a major suburb, one that's home to Pakistan's military academy, without someone knowing about it.

Obama congratulates Navy SEALs

Meantime, Obama met on Friday with the U.S. commandos who killed bin Laden after a decade-long search.

"Job well done," the president declared, addressing roughly 2,000 troops after meeting privately with the full assault team - Army helicopter pilots and Navy SEAL commandos - who executed the dangerous raid. Their identities are kept secret.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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al-qaida, osama bin laden, national/world
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