By Tom Lawrence, PASunday, 8 May 2011
Osama bin Laden was still actively involved in planning and directing al-Qa'ida's terror plots at the time he was killed, US officials have said.
The claims were made as a number of candid videos seized at the secret Pakistani compound where the terror mastermind was shot dead were released by the Pentagon.
The five short clips show a hunched, unkempt bin Laden wrapped in a blanket watching newscasts of himself on a small television, and preparing a video message addressed to the US.
They were amongst a treasure trove of material - including computer disks, hard drives and hand-written notes - collected by Navy Seals after last Monday's raid at the compound in Abbottabad.
CIA director Leon Panetta said the haul was a clear indication that bin Laden was still directing the terror network responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent civilians.
"The material found in the compound only further confirms how important it was to go after bin Laden," said Mr Panetta.
"Since 9/11, this is what the American people have expected of us. In this critical operation, we delivered."
The notes and computer material confirmed that bin Laden's compound was a command and control centre for al-Qa'ida, and he stayed in contact with affiliates around the world through a network of couriers, the intelligence official said.
It is believed to be largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever collected.
Intelligence officials hope the information will bring al-Qa'ida, who claimed responsibility for the attacks on September 11, 2001, to its knees.
As well as images of the unkempt-looking bin Laden, the videos show "out-takes" of an al-Qa'ida propaganda video, apparently intended for public release, entitled "Message to the American People".
Bin Laden has not issued a video since 2007, and officials were not sure why this one had not been released.
Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter King said the footage shattered the image of bin Laden as a powerful terror leader.
"It showed that bin Laden was not the superhero he wanted his people to think," he said.
One video shows bin Laden choosing and changing channels with a remote control, which he points at what appears to be a satellite cable box.
The US government released the videos without sound claiming it did not want to disseminate a terrorist message.
A CIA taskforce is working through the material around the clock to find clues to plots that might already be under way.
Analysts are scouring the intelligence so quickly it has not even been catalogued or counted, according to officials.
The US launched air strikes in Pakistan and Yemen this week, but the US official would not confirm whether the bin Laden intelligence has already led to attacks.
Al-Qa'ida has confirmed the death of its founder, but did not announce a successor.