May 11, 2011 — -- A journal apparently handwritten by Osama bin Laden is among the trove of evidence recovered by U.S. Navy SEALs in the operation that killed the al Qaeda leader more than a week ago, U.S. officials said today.
The notebook, which was described by one official as a "professional journal," detailed al Qaeda doctrine, potential targets and how to carry out attacks against them. U.S. intelligence analysts conducted a handwriting analysis of the journal and believe it was personally written by bin Laden, who another official described as a "meticulous note-taker."
The notes describing potential plots against the U.S. rail system, which prompted an advisory from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security last week, were part of the journal, officials said. Analysts have been poring over the documents in the ten days since bin Laden was killed and still no immiment plots have been discovered, though officials said there is still much work to do.
The journal also revealed that bin Laden encouraged attacks against smaller cities in the U.S. and was in communication with the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. officials have recently described as the greatest threat to America, according to a report by The Associated Press. The al Qaeda leader even allegedly tallied how many American lives it would cost to force a U.S. withdrawal from the Arab world, according to officials cited in the AP report.
Previously, officials said the evidence recovered from bin Laden's compound amounted to a veritable "playbook" of al Qaeda operations, from potential terror attack targets to information on international safe houses and other top commanders.
Analysts said the proposed rail plot was dated in February, 2010 and indicates a "low-tech" sabotage operation using trees and cement blocks was being considered on the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the FBI and Department of Homeland Security bulletin reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."
In a statement, DHS press secretary Matt Chandler stressed at the time that the message it sent out to its rail partners about a potential al Qaeda plot was "based on initial reporting, which is often misleading and inaccurate and subject to change. We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue [a National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time."
Analysts have been poring over the documents in the nine days since bin Laden was killed and still no immiment plots have been discovered, though officials said there is still much work to do.