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Last of Declassified al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden Materials Released by US Intelligence Community

bin Laden wrote in a letter, citing “the torture of the brothers in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib

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Al Qaeda
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has posted a tweet after the release of a 19-page Al Qaeda report in Arabic, which claimed Iran supported the extremist group before the 9/11 attacks. VOA
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Right up until the end, al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden remained focused on striking the United States, its Western allies and governments seen as U.S. proxies, and he was leery of distractions that could weaken the terror group’s resolve.

“America was never as hated and detested by all the people in the world as it is now,” bin Laden wrote in a letter, citing “the torture of the brothers in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.”

“Everyone should forget about his disagreements and focus his efforts on eliminating the bigger adversary,” he said in a separate, undated letter to a Shaikh Mahmud.

50 documents released

The letters, among almost 50 declassified documents released Thursday by the U.S. intelligence community, shed few new insights into bin Laden’s thinking as he hid in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Rather, the last of three installments of material captured during the 2011 raid that killed the terror mastermind helps complete a picture of al-Qaida at a critical juncture, as it tried to spread its influence during the early days of the so-called Arab Spring.

“The declassified documents reveal bin Laden’s strategy for upending global politics through protracted violent conflict,” according to one of the analysts who worked on the documents.

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Hoping for U.S. involvement

According to the documents, bin Laden saw the Arab Spring as a “transitional phase” and wrote of the need to “portray our vision on the revolutions in the Arab world.”

But the focus was still on pushing Arab regimes with good ties to the West toward a tipping point, hoping the U.S. would intervene and create an opening for the jihadist movement.

“What you’re seeing then is the early parts of its strategy that then got this unexpected lift,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “They’re looking at how to disperse fighters and cause chaos and suddenly the whole region is plunged into chaos.”

“Jihadists could actually get a sizeable foothold without the U.S. stepping in,” he said, allowing al-Qaida to change its trajectory following bin Laden’s death into an even more dangerous threat.

“It can operate much more openly now,” said Gartenstein-Ross. “It has much more of a presence across multiple theaters.”

Sons warned in letters

While bin Laden may not have been able to envision the threat his terror group eventually would pose, other documents show he was keenly aware of his security environment.

Throughout, he remained deeply suspicious of Iran, referring to what he called “tyrant prisons,” while noting how Tehran was hosting members of his family.

In a letter to his sons Uthman and Muhammad, bin Laden warned of the lengths to which Iran might go to track their movements.

“Remember any questionable action or observation in any hospital in Iran,” he wrote. “If they inject you with a shot, this shot might be loaded with a tiny chip.”

It was not the first time the al-Qaida leader had worried about efforts to track family members after visits to Iran.

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Worried about tracking devices

In a letter released last year as part of the second tranche of declassified materials, bin Laden worried that tracking devices may have been implanted in a filling his wife got while visiting a dentist in Iran, although he blamed the U.S.

“The size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli,” he wrote.

Yet at other times, as revealed in this last set of documents, the al-Qaida leader’s paranoia appears to give way to optimism, pointing to U.S. failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a letter to his sister Um Abd-al-Rahman, bin Laden even expresses hope that he will be able to see her soon.

“The media released the speech of President Obama that he would withdraw the American forces from Afghanistan after six months,” he wrote. “Matters will be relieved and our movement will be easier.”

Still other documents reveal deliberations on matters both mundane and, perhaps, surprising.

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Image, branding a concern

In one letter to Abu Muhammad Salah, bin Laden addresses what he calls “the top secret matter” of al-Qaida militants “in their unfortunate celibacy” due to a lack of available wives.

“We have no objection to clarifying to the brothers that they may, in such conditions, masturbate,” he wrote.

Still other discussions touched on the use of hostages, the forging relationships with selected media outlets and persistent concerns about al-Qaida’s image and branding.

“It continues to show how connected bin Laden was to the overall al-Qaida network even though his Internet access was limited,” said Gartenstein-Ross. “He knew that he could direct strategy and would be listened to.”(VOA)

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak
American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump's Tough stand on Pak. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.