July 15, 2011 — -- U.S. officials say that Osama Bin Laden wanted to assemble a team to attack America on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and had a hit list that included President Obama, General David Petraeus and a major U.S. sporting event.
The hit list was discovered in the "treasure trove" of information seized from Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound after the Navy SEAL raid that killed him in May. Officials say he was intent on an attack on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, though the plot was only in the "discussion phase." He also remained obsessed with using aircraft to kill.
Officials tell ABC News that bin Laden wanted to fly a small plane into a sporting event to cause mass casualties.
"We have so many small airports, you could fly below radar," said Brad Garrett, former FBI special agent and now an ABC News consultant. "That's possibly doable.'
The primary target on bin Laden's hit list was President Obama. Officials tell ABC News that bin Laden was trying to hatch a plan to kill President Obama by shooting down Air Force One or Marine One, the president's plane and helicopter.
Bin Laden hoped to kill General Petraeus, commander of forces in Afghanistan and soon to be CIA director the same way, either in a helicopter or fixed wing airplane with a missile or rocket propelled grenade.
Investigators do not believe the planning got very far, and both President Obama and General Petraeus have countermeasures on their aircraft that would make them tough targets.Said Garrett, "It's difficult, but not impossible, to shoot down either General Petraeus or the president's plane. But the reality is because of the countermeasures and other planes and helicopters in the air, it's not a likely scenario."
Investigators are also learning more about the travels of Bin Laden's couriers from the thumb drives taken from his compound. Over the years, U.S. intelligence has placed a kind of tracking system in some internet cafes in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. If someone inserts a thumb drive it will leave a signature on that drive from that internet site. Investigators say they know now some of the places where bin Laden's people went to transfer and receive data across the internet.