Bin Laden plot to kill Obama and Petraeus revealed


BEFORE HIS death last May, Osama bin Laden ordered a Pakistani member of al-Qaeda to assassinate President Barack Obama and Gen David Petraeus, who was then commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and has since become director of the CIA.

The information was contained in documents taken from bin Laden’s compound on the night he was killed by US special forces and shown to Washington Post journalist David Ignatius by a senior administration official.

Bin Laden wrote to his top lieutenant saying Mr Obama was “the head of infidelity”, and that vice-president Joe Biden was not prepared to assume power. Gen Petraeus was “the man of the hour”, Bin Laden said. “Killing him would alter the war’s path” in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden asked that Ilyas Kashmiri – a Pakistani who was later killed by a US drone – to report back on progress in planning the assassinations.

The documents show bin Laden was worried that al-Qaeda had damaged its reputation by killing so many Muslims. He instructed followers to spend “every effort” on attacks inside the US.

US troubles in Afghanistan are far from over, despite the former al-Qaeda leader’s death. President Obama yesterday phoned President Hamid Karzai, ostensibly to congratulate him on the birth of a daughter.

The two leaders discussed the transition from US to Afghan control as well as Mr Karzai’s demands for an end to night raids and house searches, and to the presence of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops in villages, the White House said. They also “recommitted” to reaching a memorandum of understanding on these topics.

The presidential phone call took place a day after Mr Karzai complicated US hopes of an orderly end to the Afghan war by demanding that Washington bring the calendar ahead by one year, beginning a pullback of US forces from villages to bases now, and handing over control to Afghan security forces next year.

Mr Karzai made the demand in a meeting with defence secretary Leon Panetta, who travelled to Afghanistan to limit damage from the massacre of 16 Afghans, nine of whom were children, by a US soldier on March 11th. Mr Karzai claimed Afghan forces “are ready to take all security responsibilities” now.

In theory, half of Afghanistan is already under Afghan control, but US forces continue to operate in those areas. Nato reported last year that only one of 158 Afghan battalions was ready to fight without support from the ISAF.

The US soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan this week was named by a senior American official last night as Staff Sgt Robert Bales.

He has not yet been formally charged of perpetrating Sunday’s massacre, was expected to be moved imminently from a US base in Kuwait to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Kuwaiti officials were not informed that the soldier was transferred to their country on Wednesday and were reportedly furious to learn the news from cable television reports.

The 33-year-old sergeant had been drinking with two other soldiers, in violation of a ban on alcohol in combat zones, before he went on a door-to-door rampage in a village in Kandahar province, according to the New York Times.

It quoted a senior US official who said the soldier argued with his wife on the telephone about his multiple deployments.

“When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues; he just snapped,” the official said.

The soldier had been wounded twice in three earlier combat tours in Iraq.

John Henry Browne, a lawyer retained by the soldier’s family in Seattle said the soldier had not argued with his wife and that he doubted the report about alcohol.