Bin Laden cache trove reveals 'cash-hit' al-Qaeda was reeling under US drone strikes

Washington, July 2(ANI): Osama bin Laden was spending as much time exchanging messages about al-Qaeda's struggles- including a financial crunch and CIA drone attacks- as he was plotting ways for the terrorist organisation to reassert its strength, according to US officials who have completed an exhaustive review of the trove of files seized from his hideout during the May 2 raid. Over the past year, the al-Qaeda leader fielded e-mails from followers lamenting the toll being taken by CIA drone "explosions" as well as the network's financial plight, The Washington Post quoted the officials, as saying. Bin Laden approved the creation of a counterintelligence unit to root out traitors and spies, only to receive a complaint in mid-2010 from the unit's leader that it was losing the "espionage war" and couldn't function on its paltry budget, the report said. Just months before the Arab Spring took hold, bin Laden warned affiliates in Yemen and elsewhere that it was too soon to create an Islamic state, saying that there was not "enough steel" in al-Qaeda's regional support structures to warrant even tentative steps towards re-establishing the caliphate, it added. Many of the most recent files found on bin Laden's computers depict an organisation beset by mounting problems even as its leader remained singularly focused on delivering a follow-up to the 9/11 strikes, officials said. "The trove makes it clear that bin Laden's primary goal- you can call it an obsession- was to attack the US homeland," said a senior US counterterrorism official. "He pushed for this every way he could." A 2010 message from one of bin Laden's principal correspondents- Atiyah abd al-Rahman- expressed frustration with the CIA drone campaign, a source of particular concern because many of his predecessors in the third-ranking slot had been killed in strikes by the unmanned aircraft. "He was saying in the letter that their guys were getting killed faster than they could be replaced," the US counterterrorism official said. Other messages sounded a similar theme, the report said, ading that at least two came from the head of al-Qaeda's security unit, a group that had been established to protect against penetrations by informants who might provide targeting tips to the CIA. One bin Laden message sent to Rahman in spring 2010 "instructed a deputy to form a group that would get money through kidnapping and ransom of diplomats," the U.S. official said, adding, "The term 'financial hardship' was used" in the message. The seized cache also contains correspondence between bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who recently succeeded the former as al-Qaeda's leader. he two express frustration that the conflict between al-Qaeda and the United States is not more widely perceived among Muslims as the front of a religious war, the report said, adding that they also voice concern about how insurgent killings of civilians in Iraq and elsewhere could undermine al-Qaeda's standing among Muslims. The exchanges read like status updates between a headquarters and a satellite branch, officials said, with bin Laden pressing far-flung followers for more information on their plans, then waiting, sometimes for weeks, for replies. (ANI)