Monday 5 December 2016

Bin Laden planned revamp for al-Qa'ida

Andrew Buncombe

Published 25/06/2011 | 05:00

Osama bin Laden. Photo: AP
Osama bin Laden. Photo: AP

Osama bin Laden, holed up in his Pakistan hideaway, contemplated changing the name of al-Qa'ida and re-branding the organisation to make it more attractive to potential recruits, according to documents recovered from his compound.

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Concerned his militant group was losing both relevance and popularity and aware its attacks had killed thousands of Muslims, Bin Laden (pictured) pondered a makeover that included the promotion of a religious element. He wanted to stress to followers the supposedly divine nature of the assaults and the broader war against the West.

The alternatives he came up with were not snappy: Taifat al-Tawhed wal-Jihad, or Monotheism and Jihad Group, was one. Jama'at I'Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida, which translates as Restoration of the Caliphate Group, was another. It's unclear whether Bin Laden's desires ever advanced beyond the planning stage.

His wish to give the group's image a thorough overhaul is revealed in an undated letter said to have been among a stash of documents and data stored on computers that US Navy SEALs recovered from the three-storey compound in Abbottabad where Bin Laden was killed in a raid in early May.

A report on the findings suggests Bin Laden, like an anxious CEO, worried about marketing issues and how to "sell his holy war" or jihad.

Last night, there was no independent confirmation of the report. However, some experts said it was possible the 62-year-old wanted to re-brand.

Indeed, in the summer of 2001, Bin Laden amended his group's name to al-Qa'ida al-Jihad -- Base of the Holy War -- when it formally merged with the outfit headed by the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, the man who became his deputy and who has since been named al-Qa'ida's leader.

Irish Independent

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