Monday, May 09, 2016

AL-QAIDA - After Bin Laden

"How al-Qaida has changed since bin Laden's death" PBS NewsHour 5/2/2016


SUMMARY:  Five years ago, U.S. special operations forces launched a daring mission to kill al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden.  Special correspondent Nick Schifrin, who visited the scene shortly after the battle, describes what he observed, then former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta joins Hari Sreenivasan to reflect on how international terrorism has changed over the past five years.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Five years ago,U.S. special operations forces launched one of the most daring raids in history.  They invaded a U.S. ally to kill the most wanted man on the planet.

I recorded this conversation last week with NewsHour special correspondent Nick Schifrin, who visited the scene shortly after the battle.

Nick Schifrin was the first Western reporter to arrive in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that day, and delivered exclusive, extraordinary video, images from inside the compound just hours after bin Laden was killed.

At the time, Nick was ABC News correspondent in the region.  And now he's a NewsHour special correspondent.

And he joins me in the studio.

So, what did we see in that video?

NICK SCHIFRIN (NewsHour):  Hari, we saw how the world's most wanted man lived and how he died.

In terms of how he lived, we see a bedroom, a large bed, bigger than any bed anywhere else in the house.  We saw the medications he was on, very simple medications available at the local pharmacy.  We saw a pantry where there was a week's worth of food stored up.  We saw so many signs of children.

There was a red wagon outside in the backyard.  There were 12 kids living there.  Half of them were bin Laden's.  We also saw a satellite dish outside.  That was a one-way communication device used to watch TV on that dish, of course, never used it to communicate with the outside world.

And, of course, we saw how he died, the pools of blood in his bedroom and the room of Khaled, his son, and the mess that Navy SEALs left behind.  They ransacked the room where all the computers were.  And all the files from those computers became what intelligence officials referred to as the Abbottabad files.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Here we are five years later.  The news is almost — almost on a daily basis mentions ISIS.  It doesn't mention al-Qaida so much.  Is there — explain the shift?


I think, as one longtime al-Qaida puts it, al-Qaida has kind of like become Microsoft.  It's still got a decent share of the market, but it's not preeminent.  It's not really seen as cutting edge.  And it doesn't really appeal to the younger generation.

And that is because, of course what we call core al-Qaida, the al-Qaida leadership as it was defined in 9/11 and the years after, has been decimated.  And that started before bin Laden was killed, about two or three years before, probably 2009.  The CIA moved a lot of assets and intelligence and technology into the region, and drones started picking off these leaders.

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