Wired details declassified documents
Recently declassified documents from the SEAL raid show how out-of-control and worried OBL was about al-Qaida's image. They point out in the article that, ironically, OBL was just as concerned about protecting the lives of innocent muslims as the US is. He emphasized that their main focus should always be killing Americans whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Some interesting points if you don't feel like reading the whole article:
-Drone attacks scare the hell out of al-Qaida operatives
-Iran and OBL never worked together. In fact, al-Qaida had issues with Iran.
-OBL frequently watched American news channels to see what was being reported. The most interesting part of this to me is that he recognized the biased news channels and focused on ones that weren't as outrageous. Here's a quote from wired:
| Bin Laden wasn’t just a terrorist. He was a narcissist. Obsessed with his image, he dyed his grey beard black before filming propaganda videos. And however much he hated America, he and his deputies were positively obsessed how they came across in American media.|
“We should also look for an American channel that can be close to being unbiased, such as CBS, or other channel that has political motives that make it interested in broadcasting the point of view of al- Mujahidin,” bin Laden wrote shortly before his death. “Then, we can send to the channel the material that we want the Americans to see. You can ask brother Azzam about the channel that you should send the tape to and let me know your opinion and his.”
“Brother Azzam” is bin Laden’s California-bred (and ex-metalhead) media deputy, Adam Gadahn. Gadahn tracked the press like he worked for Fishbowl DC. Fox News will “die in anger,” he predicted. CNN “seems to be in cooperation with the government more than the others.” And he fell out of love with MSNBC.
“I used to think that MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit,” Gadahn observed, “but is has lately fired two of the most famous journalists — Keith Olberman [sic] and Octavia Nasser [sic] the Lebanese — because they released some statements that were open for argument.” Nasr was actually fired from CNN after seeming to praise Hezbollah. (“It seems she is a Shia,” Gadahn speculated.)
Bin Laden’s U.S. media diet even got occasionally eggheaded. To refute the idea that the U.S. was on the side of the angels during the Arab Spring, bin Laden suggested reading “the RAND Center publications, especially the books ‘Civil and Democratic Islam,’ and ‘Building Moderate Muslim Networks,’” since the monographs “emphasize that the US’s interests are with secularists and reformists because they are the true allies.”
All this media obsession was meant to protect al-Qaida’s brand. But the group’s own offshoots kept trashing it. A flunky wrote to bin Laden about the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq: “They said Abu Hamzah is much more bloodthirsty and more enthusiastic about [killing], is tyrannical in his dealings with others, and has no patience for anyone who disagrees with him, etc.” Much easier to attack Fox News than rein in bloodthirsty terrorists who thought they were only following in bin Laden’s footsteps.