Osama bin Laden was plotting to assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama before the al-Qaeda leader was hunted down and shot to death by an American SEAL team, an American newspaper reports.
In a story the paper broke on Friday, the Washington Post said the slain Saudi terrorist wanted his network to organize cells dedicated to bringing down a plane carrying Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. soldier in Afghanistan at the time.
“The reason for concentrating on them,” the al-Qaeda leader explained to his top lieutenant, “is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President Joe] Biden take over the presidency. … Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour … and killing him would alter the war’s path" in Afghanistan.
Petraeus resigned from the U.S. Army last September after 37 years' service to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
The scheme, which administration officials said Friday was never considered a serious threat by American officials, is described in one of the documents taken from bin Laden’s compound by U.S. forces on May 2, the night the terrorist leader was killed in his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the Post reported.
According to the Post, the man bin Laden hoped would carry out the attacks on Obama and Petraeus was the Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri.
“Please ask brother Ilyas to send me the steps he has taken into that work,” he wrote to his top lieutenant, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman.
A month after bin Laden’s death, Kashmiri was killed in a U.S. drone attack, one of several top al-Qaeda operatives slain in recent months. In the documents, Bin Laden noted some of the deaths.
What emerges from the report is the picture of an embattled and embittered leader who hoped to deliver another telling blow against his hated enemy, the United States, despite his dwindling power.
As well, it seems apparent bin Laden was worried his organization's reputation was taking a beating because of the enormous number of Muslim civilians al-Qaeda's attacks had claimed.
In his directive to Atiyah, bin Laden urges him to direct “every effort that could be spent on attacks in America,” instead of operations within Muslim nations.
And as for recruiting someone to pull off the assassination, he told Atiyah to "ask the brothers in all regions if they have a brother … who can operate in the U.S. [He should be able to] live there, or it should be easy for him to travel there."