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May 20, 2015

Bin Laden: Focus on killing Americans

Letters found at bin Laden compound reveal orders

U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday released documents it said were recovered during the 2011 raid on the compound in Pakistan where U.S. forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Among the documents were letters bin Laden sent to operatives telling them to set aside the goal of creating an Islamic state and instead focus on killing Americans, CNN is reporting. 

In an undated letter he told jihadist militants in North Africa that they should stop "insisting on the formation of an Islamic state" and instead attack U.S. embassies in Sierra Leone and Togo and American oil companies. Bin Laden offered similar advice to the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, telling it to avoid targeting Yemeni police and military targets and instead prioritize attacks on American targets.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement that the release of the documents followed a "rigorous" review by U.S. government agencies and "aligns with the president's call for increased transparency consistent with national security prerogatives."

It said the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act required the office to conduct a review of the documents for release.

The released material, entitled Bin Laden's Bookshelf by the ODNI,  included a variety of declassified documents, a list of English language books recovered from the compound and material published by other militant groups. Among the books bin Laden presumably read were "Obama's War" by Bob Woodward, "The Rise and Fall of Great Powers" by Paul Kennedy and "Military Intelligence Blunders" by John Hughes-Wilson. 

U.S. forces killed bin Laden, leader of the militant organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States in which about 3,000 people died, in a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, a Pakistani city that also was home to a Pakistani military base.

"It is in the interest of the American public for citizens, academics, journalists and historians to have the opportunity to read and understand bin Laden's documents," U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes said in a statement.

Nunes said Wednesday's release of 86 new reports, bringing the total number of declassified reports to 120, is "a step in the right direction." He added: "I look forward to the conclusion of the ongoing efforts to declassify the hundreds of remaining Abbottabad reports to meet congressional requirements."