Osama Bin Laden: Authorities Hunt for Terrorists Named in Files Found at Bin Laden's Compound

Authorities hunt for terrorists named in files found at Bin Laden's compound.

May 18, 2011, 5:45 PM

May 19, 2011— -- The entire U.S. intelligence community is busy pursuing leads from files recovered from Osama bin Laden's Abbottobad, Pakistan, compound to determine whether bin Laden's plots had gone beyond the discussion and planning phase to concrete threats, government sources told ABC News.

Sources familiar with bin Laden's handwritten journal and computer files told ABC News that names of suspected al Qaeda operatives had been found in the files, and that an intense effort was under way to find the individuals attached to those names.

A special Media Exploitation Task Force "working 24/7" in shifts has been set up on the grounds of CIA headquarters to exploit the bin Laden files.

U.S. intelligence has been trying to determine if the names in the files are real or aliases, and has called on Great Britain and Canada to to help it nail the identifications.

"The names that they are finding are extremely important," former FBI Agent Brad Garret said in an interview with ABC News. "I believe that they're under a lot of pressure to resolve and identify these people as quickly as possible."

Travel records are being combed to see if any of these people have entered the U.S. already, and names are being added to terrorist watch lists in case any operatives try to come here.

Some officials have expressed shock that bin Laden kept so much sensitive material with him in what has been described as the most significant terrorism trove ever discovered.

Analysts pouring over the bin Laden files have found a number of references that signal he was pushing the terror network to ready an attack on U.S soil on or before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Some analysts worry that such a plot could already be in motion, even though they have found no evidence of it.

But al Qaeda plots are often months in the making. The 9/11 plot, which bin Laden and Khalid Sheik Mohammed dubbed "The Planes Operation," took more than two years to conceive and execute.

The bin laden files indicate that he and al Qaeda discussed not only attacks against commuter trains but plots against airplanes and airports, buildings, vehicle bombs and hits like the one in Mumbai in which terrorists used guns and small explosives to execute victims in cold blood, sources familiar with the documents told ABC News.

Now intelligence officials are studying the files to figure out if bin Laden's writings reflect simply his aspirations or plans to be put in motion.

ABC News' Jason Ryan contributed to this report.

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