Bin Laden Maintained Operation Role In Al-Qaida
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
And, Dina, Al-Qaida released a statement confirming bin Laden's death. What else was in that statement today?
DINA TEMPLE: I was also struck by the fact that the message singled out Pakistan. It called on people there to overthrow their government and cleanse the shame that they have because bin Laden died there. So as I said, there was a lot of really colorful stuff.
BLOCK: And, Dina, how far do you think that statement from Al-Qaida will go toward putting to rest conspiracy theories about bin Laden's death?
TEMPLE: Well, I think there will always be some people who say he isn't dead. But as you know, one of the arguments for releasing photographs of bin Laden after the raid was to prove to the world that he really was dead. And President Obama ended up deciding not to release those photographs. And now Al-Qaida's message essentially provides that confirmation.
BLOCK: Now, we mentioned that that the SEAL team that went into that compound took with them a number of documents, computers, thumb drives, things like that; and information is leaking out about what's been learned so far. Would have you heard?
TEMPLE: And U.S. officials tell NPR that there were these handwritten notebooks that suggested bin Laden was actually helping plan and plot and hone future attacks. And in one notebook, they said, there was a note that was dated from February 2010, in which bin Laden mused about launching attacks against the U.S. rail system this year.
U: it could either be planned to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, or possibly timed for other big events like the State of the Union address. And that's why the Department of Homeland Security yesterday released this advisory to law enforcement, basically telling them to be extra vigilant about the rail system. It was mostly out of an abundance of caution. And they said publicly that there was no reason to think that this was an operational plot. And there was no reason to think that that there was any planning that took place beyond what bin Laden had in this notebook.
BLOCK: OK. And what about information from people who were at the compound, including bin Laden's wife who's now in the custody of Pakistani authorities?
TEMPLE: I mean no one thinks that bin Laden would have told his wife about operations. But she can speak to where she's been, where he's been. And she's apparently told authorities that she's been at that compound for five years, and never left that third floor apartment where he was killed. What's unclear is whether bin Laden was there with her the whole time. And U.S. authorities have asked to interview her and so far the Pakistanis have said no.
BLOCK: If the Pakistanis change their mind, are their CIA operatives there in Pakistan who would then go in and interview her?
TEMPLE: And there had been some discussion about the agents actually taking part in Monday's raid. The thinking was that they could provide essentially perimeter security during the raid, in case Pakistani authorities showed up. And then officials decided that was too risky. So most of the agents in the safe house were out of Pakistan before the operation even started, and there are a few agents that are still there.
BLOCK: OK. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston, thanks so much.
TEMPLE: You're very welcome.
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