Candid videos released by U.S. portray bin Laden as weary terrorist watching himself on television
WASHINGTON (AP) – From a shabby, makeshift office, he ran a global terrorist empire. The world’s most wanted man watched newscasts of himself from a tiny television perched atop a rickety old desk cluttered with wires.
For years, the world only saw Osama bin Laden in the rare propaganda videos that trickled out, the ones portraying him as a charismatic religious figure unfazed by being the target of worldwide manhunt.
On Saturday, the U.S. released a handful of videos, selected to show bin Laden in a much more candid, unflattering light. In the short clips, bin Laden appears hunched and tired, seated on the floor, watching television wrapped in a wool blanket and wearing a knit cap. Outtakes of his propaganda tapes show that they were heavily scripted affairs. He dyed and trimmed his beard for the cameras, then shot and reshot his remarks until the timing and lighting were just right.
The videos were among the evidence seized by Navy SEALs after a pre-dawn raid Monday that killed bin Laden in his walled Pakistani compound. The movies, along with computer disks, thumb drives and handwritten notes, reveal that bin Laden was still actively involved in planning and directing al-Qaida’s plots against the U.S., according to a senior U.S. intelligence official who briefed reporters Saturday and insisted his name not be used.
“The material found in the compound only further confirms how important it was to go after Bin Laden,” said CIA director Leon Panetta in a statement Saturday.
“Since 9/11, this is what the American people have expected of us. In this critical operation, we delivered.”m