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Attacks Thwarted, Information Examined in bin Laden Aftermath Attacks Thwarted, Information Examined in bin Laden Aftermath

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National Security

Attacks Thwarted, Information Examined in bin Laden Aftermath

Afghan security forces have killed or wounded two dozen fighters who crossed the border from Pakistan in what appears to be the first retaliatory attack for the killing of Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, the U.S. is examining the trove of material uncovered during the raid that led to his death, and working to ward off revenge attacks in the United States and abroad.

Here's a list of other developments related to the mission against bin Laden:


—The governor of Afghanistan’s northeastern Nuristan province told Reuters that the 25 foreign fighters—including Arabs, Chechens, and Pakistanis—were killed or wounded in a military operation to control border infiltration. The operation was very close to the Pakistan border and was intended to thwart a retaliatory attack after bin Laden’s death, he said. Militants have long used safe havens in Pakistan’s lawless border areas to plot attacks, regroup, funnel fighters into Afghanistan, and smuggle ammonium nitrate over the border to use in roadside bombs.

—Bin Laden’s death may provide renewed impetus for al-Qaida to stage an attack “to counter the impression that it is out of business,” or for the terrorist networks local affiliates to independently attack, former counterterrorism coordinator at the National Security Council, Richard Clarke, said in an op-ed in The New York Times. Al-Qaida affiliates are still recruiting, financing and training terrorists, and have not needed strong direction from bin Laden for several years. The Taliban in Afghanistan, even before bin Laden’s death, announced it would ramp up its attacks this spring.

—The U.S. is still weighing what additional information, if any, to put out about the raid—and this could include pictures or videos, said Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan. “One of the things we have the responsibility to do is to make sure we take measures to guard against any type of adverse reaction to the news of bin Laden's death,” he said Tuesday on CBS's Early Show. “Any other material, whether it be photos or videos or whatever else, we are looking at it and we will make the appropriate decisions,” Brennan said on CNN's American Morning.


—Brennan said that the U.S. is taking “prudent measures” to work with the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and others to be sure that the U.S. understands the threats that “may be out there”—though he said there have been no indications of specific threats that have emerged as a result of the killing. “Right now, we feel confident that we are at the right posture,” he said on ABC’s Good Morning America.

—By "exploiting and reviewing" material obtained during Sunday's raids, the U.S. is investigating "if we can get any insight into any terrorist plot that might be under way so we can take the measures to stop any attack planning," Brennan said. The U.S. is hoping that the material could lead to other members of al-Qaida, give insight into the group's capabilities, and provide information about any support system he may have had in Pakistan, Brennan said.

—Bin Laden was in the compound for the past five or six years, and had virtually no interaction with others outside of that compound, Brennan said. “But yet he seemed to be very active inside the compound. We know he released videos and audios. We know he was in contact with some senior al-Qaida officials,” he said on CBS’s Early Show. “So what we're trying to do now is understand what he had been involved in the last several years, exploit whatever information we were able to get in the compound, and take that information and continue to efforts to destroy al-Qaida.”

Sohaib Athar, the bin Laden neighbor who live-tweeted the raid unaware of the scope of what was happening, described bin Laden's compound on CNN’s American Morning. "I live 2 or 2.5 kilometers from [the compound], so I did not see the helicopters, but I heard the helicopter hovering above my house for a really long time; like five to eight minutes, which is not common in Abbottabad because it doesn’t have a real airport and helicopters just come to drop shipments sometimes. So, if a helicopter is hovering above for that long, it must mean looking at something closely.... At this time, the helicopter was a little suspicious, so I was worried about it,” Athar continued. "Initially I heard a fast car going by on the main road and, a few seconds after that, I heard the explosion that shook my windowpanes and then probably a bomb of some kind.”


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