May 9th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

U.S. officials unveil videos of bin Laden

Washington (CNN) - Keenly conscious of his image, a graying Osama bin Laden no doubt never expected this video - showing him hunched over, draped in a blanket and using a television clicker - to hit the world's airwaves as it did Saturday.

Filmed by a confidant, the al Qaeda leader contrasts with the younger version of himself on a TV screen a few feet away. That man has a more youthful beard, a hand held up in resolve and a photo of the burning World Trade Center.

U.S. officials, who Saturday released five videos, emphasized the recordings and other materials seized at bin Laden's Pakistan compound show the terrorist still had a firm hand at the tiller, managing strategic and tactical control of his organization, even as he stayed out of sight in Abbottabad.

The undated videos make clear bin Laden "remained active in al Qaeda terrorist propaganda operations, especially in shaping his own image," said a senior intelligence official granted anonymity under the ground rules of a briefing at the Pentagon.

Four of the clips show bin Laden, who was killed along with four others Monday by U.S. commandos, in more formal attire. No audio of the terrorist leader speaking accompanied the images.

The intelligence official said the audio was removed because it would be "inappropriate to spread the words of terrorists and propaganda messages, especially Osama bin Laden."

Besides the missing audio, the videos, according to the intelligence official, were not altered in any other way.

Still, the release of the home movies sends a message to those who doubted bin Laden was killed: Navy SEALs got footage that likely could have been held only by bin Laden at his hideout.

It may also have accomplished something else: diminishing the bin Laden mythology of invincibility.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Kimberly

    It's interesting how quickly he changes the channel after video of Obama shows up on the screen. Having seen this video several times in the past few days, I hadn't noticed it until now.

    May 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm |