Reports: Bin Laden's Notes Show Preoccupation With Killing Americans

May 12, 2011

There's more being reported this morning about what's said to be in notebooks written by Osama bin Laden. His writings, sources tell The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, add to the evidence that al-Qaida's leader was obsessed with attacking the U.S. and killing Americans.

As NPR's Dina Temple-Raston said last week, the handwritten notebooks seized during the raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, "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."

Today, the Post writes that bin Laden "was preoccupied with attacking the United States over all other targets, a fixation that led to friction with followers, according to U.S. intelligence officials involved in analyzing the trove of materials recovered from the al-Qaeda leader's compound. In handwritten journals and long-winded compositions saved on computer hard drives, the officials said, bin Laden always seemed to be searching for a way to replicate the impact of al-Qaeda's most devastating strike."

The L.A. Times, meanwhile, says it has been told by "U.S. officials" that in his personal journals bin Laden "contemplated how to kill as many Americans as possible, including in terrorist attacks against Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington."

The Associated Press' Kimberly Dozier reports that U.S. officials have told her that "bin Laden's written words show that counterterrorist officials worldwide underestimated how key he remained to running the organization, shattering the conventional thinking that he had been reduced through isolation to being an inspirational figurehead."

On Morning Edition today, NPR's Rachel Martin reported that Obama administration officials say the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan "will remain as is — in part because it's still unclear what effect bin Laden's death is going to have" on the insurgency there that's being led by the Taliban and other anti-government forces. There is hope, though, that bin Laden's death will open up some room for negotiations between the warring parties.

NPR's coverage of bin Laden's death and the intelligence being gathered since U.S. commandos raided his compound in the earlier morning hours of May 2 (local time), is collected here. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit