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May 17th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

U.S. official: Bin Laden communicated with Yemen-based terror group

Washington (CNN) - Materials taken from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan confirm that the al Qaeda leader communicated with the Yemen-based group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a U.S. official familiar with the ongoing U.S. analysis of the documents.

It is not clear whether that group ever received the communications or if it acted upon them, said the official, who could not be named due to the sensitivity of the intelligence information.

The United States is still trying to determine if the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was in direct communication with bin Laden. Washington considers the Yemen-based group a very active wing of al Qaeda. Several attempted bombing plots targeting the United States - including the unsuccessful Times Square bombing of 2010 and the attempt to blow up courier planes with explosives hidden in printer cartridges - were hatched in Yemen.

The search through bin Laden's materials, which were recovered after the al Qaeda leader was killed in a May 2 raid on his compound by U.S. Navy SEALs, has also found direct evidence that while in hiding in Pakistan, bin Laden was involved in planning attacks. The materials confirmed that bin Laden was encouraging direct plots to attack Americans and U.S. interests in Europe late last year, according to the U.S. official.

The source emphasized there were several threats at the time that led the United States to issue an October 2010 alert for Americans traveling in Europe.

Bin Laden was "aware, supportive and trying to motivate his operatives in Europe. He was pushing them," the source said.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
U.S., Pakistan must heal relationship, Sen. Kerry says
Yousuf Raza Gilani (R) listens to John Kerry (3L) during a meeting at the Prime Minister's house in Islamabad on Monday.
May 16th, 2011
02:45 PM ET

U.S., Pakistan must heal relationship, Sen. Kerry says

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - The United States need not apologize to Pakistan for the successful raid that killed terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, but it is important that the countries find a way to mend their frayed relationship in the wake of the attack, U.S. Sen. John Kerry said Monday during a visit to Islamabad.

Kerry said his goal in visiting was to begin a process that would leave the United States and Pakistan in a position where "isolated episodes, no matter how profound, do not jeopardize the relationships between our countries."

But he said Pakistan must choose between being a haven for extremists or a tolerant democracy and that the United States is willing to help the country.

"Our progress in the days ahead will be measured by actions, not words," he said.

Although many in Pakistan have accused the United States of violating Pakistani sovereignty by launching a unilateral military attack inside the country, Kerry said Pakistanis should direct their ire at bin Laden and his legion of foreign fighters, who he said were responsible for thousands of deaths inside Pakistan.

The Pakistani parliament recently condemned the raid, adopting a resolution calling for a review of its counter-terrorism cooperation agreement with the United States. The resolution also ordered the immediate end of drone attacks in a tribal region of Pakistan near the Afghan border.

Failure to end unilateral U.S. raids and drone attacks will force Pakistan "to consider taking necessary steps, including withdrawal of (a) transit facility" that NATO uses to send troops and supplies into Afghanistan, the resolution said.

U.S. officials have questioned how the world's most wanted terrorist managed to live in plain sight for years in Pakistan - near the country's elite military academy - without being detected.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
May 14th, 2011
12:28 AM ET

Video: Tony Blair speaks out on bin Laden

Editor's note: In this special, web-only extended version of the interview, CNN's Anderson Cooper talks to Tony Blair about the West's relationship with the Muslim world after bin Laden's death.

Related: Ideology bin Laden represented still a problem for the West, says Blair


Filed under: Afghanistan • Big Interview • Islam • Middle East • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
May 14th, 2011
12:20 AM ET
May 13th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Suicide attacks in Pakistan kill 80; Taliban claim bin Laden revenge

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility Friday for suicide attacks on a military training facility in the nation's northwest, saying they were carried out in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

The twin suicide bombings killed at least 80 people, nearly all of them military recruits who had just completed their training, said Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a senior provincial minister. About 140 others were wounded.

"Pakistani and the U.S. forces should be ready for more attacks," said Ihsan Ullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, who accused the Pakistani military of having alerted the United States to bin Laden's location.

"Osama was our great leader and the killers of Osama will have to pay its price," he said.

The back-to-back explosions took place shortly after scores of recruits had left the Shabqadar Fort, a training facility in the district of Charsadda, said Jahan Zeb Khan, a senior police officer.

Afterward, video of the blood-soaked ground outside the training facility showed it littered with burned vehicles and broken glass.

The recruits had just completed a nine-month training program when the attackers struck.

The district of Charsadda borders Mohmand Agency, one of seven districts in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border.

Mohmand is believed to be a hideout for Taliban fighters and al Qaeda-linked militants fleeing last year's military operation in the district of South Waziristan and ongoing U.S. drone strikes in North Waziristan.

The Pakistani army has carried out numerous ground and air operations in Mohmand but it has not been able to stamp out the militants.

The Pakistani Taliban represent a confederation of Taliban groups in northwestern Pakistan, where they are based, said Bill Roggio, military-affairs analyst who is managing editor of The Long War Journal.

Those fighters attack targets in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan.

The group, which is headquartered in Quetta, is different from the Afghan Taliban, which has been focused on re-establishing the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan.

Both groups swear allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and have close ties to al Qaeda, he said.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
May 12th, 2011
10:16 PM ET

Sources: U.S. grills 'hostile' bin Laden wives, via Pakistan officials

(CNN) - Three of Osama bin Laden's wives have been interrogated by U.S. intelligence officers under the supervision of Pakistani's intelligence service, according to sources in both governments.

The women - who were all interviewed together - were "hostile" toward the Americans, according to a senior Pakistani government official with direct knowledge of the post-bin Laden investigation and two senior U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the matter. The eldest of the three wives spoke for the group.

Members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence were in the room along with the U.S. intelligence officers, the officials said. The Americans had wanted to question the wives separately to figure out inconsistencies in their stories.

All three officials said that the interrogation didn't yield much new information, while adding that it was early in the process.

Both the senior Pakistani and senior U.S. officials said that - despite some well-publicized strains - there is an ongoing exchange of intelligence between the two countries.

The story was first reported Thursday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper: 360."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
May 12th, 2011
09:59 PM ET

Blair: Ideology bin Laden represented still problem for the West

New York (CNN) – After a stealth U.S. military operation, notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden may be dead but the notion of a fundamental conflict between Islam and the West which he advocated remains a problem, according to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper whether the front line in the global war on terrorism has now shifted to Pakistan, the country where bin Laden was found and killed by the United States, or to Yemen, a growing center of influence for al Qaeda and those inspired by al Qaeda, Blair said the issue wasn’t that simple.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Well, what should we be worried about most? Would it be Afghanistan? Would it be Iraq? Would it be Pakistan? Would it be Yemen? Would it be Somalia?’ The answer to that question is all of those, I’m afraid,” Blair said in an interview set to air Friday on AC360°. “For me this is one struggle," continued Blair, “It’s got many different aspects to it. One is the security aspect. But the other is the narrative, the ideology that people like bin Laden represent. Because my fear is that the narrative has a far broader support than those engaged in extremism would suggest.”

Blair explained that he believes the number of individuals who turn to violence because of radical Islamic beliefs is “a relatively small number.” But, “those that buy into the narrative that there is this fundamental conflict, that the West is oppressing Islam, I think that stretches far deeper.”

Since leaving office in the U.K. Blair has worked as an envoy in the Middle East peace process.

Tune in to AC360° beginning at 10pm ET Friday to watch more of the Blair interview.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Islam • Osama bin Laden
May 12th, 2011
08:00 PM ET

More lawmakers want photos of bin Laden's body released

Washington (CNN) - Two U.S. lawmakers joined the call Thursday for the release of photos of Osama bin Laden's body, after seeing the images themselves.

"These are very graphic, gruesome pictures," said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado. But seeing them "gave me a sense of finality and closure."

Members of Senate and House committees that deal with intelligence and military matters have been invited to see the photos. Some of his colleagues had declined the offer, Lamborn said. He did not name those lawmakers.

He, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California saw the photos on Thursday at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

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Filed under: 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden
Officials: Bin Laden 'complacent' in Pakistan, no sign of escape plan
People gather outside the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.
May 12th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

Officials: Bin Laden 'complacent' in Pakistan, no sign of escape plan

Washington (CNN) - U.S. officials say several key indicators bolster their initial impression that Osama bin Laden had a support network in Pakistan that resulted in his staying in one location for the past several years, feeling comfortable he would not get caught.

The officials, familiar with the latest assessment of the raid that resulted in the al Qaeda leader's death, point out there is no apparent sign that bin Laden had a ready escape plan. He did not appear to have the means or make an attempt to destroy the reams and gigabytes of documents before Navy SEALs assaulted his compound, according to the sources. The sources requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

"It looks like he became complacent," one of the officials said. "There is a lot more material than we expected to find here."

Bin Laden, one of the officials noted, had only three men with him in his Abbottabad compound at the time of the assault. U.S. officials have said that aside from bin Laden, the three men who lived in the compound and who were killed in the raid were bin Laden's son and two trusted couriers.

"What does all that mean?" the official said. "How could he be so comfortable living in that location for that period of time with so little security?"

FULL STORY
May 12th, 2011
12:37 AM ET

Video: Ambassador responds to doubts about Pakistan

Editor's note: Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Amb. to the U.S., discusses his country's commitment to fighting terrorism.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
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