Osama wanted to change name of Al-Qaeda

May 02, 2012, 07:18 IST | Agencies

Officials say the slain terror leader mulled over group's bad reputation and thought of renaming it

Before his death, Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda was a shadow of its former self.

The once-powerful terrorist organisation had been decimated by a decade of pounding by US forces and developed a reputation in the Islamic world for killing Muslims and destroying mosques.

Fresh start: Osama bin Laden believed al-Qaeda had developed a bad reputation in the Muslim world. File pic

So bin Laden planned to do what every other executive in charge of a troubled organisation does: re-brand.

It was revealed on Monday that the terrorist leader wanted to re-name al-Qaeda to escape its bad image.

The image of bin Laden presented by the White House — depressed and struggling to revive al-Qaeda — differs sharply from the portrait that emerged the day before, of a leader tapped into his terrorist network and planning attacks on US forces, despite a decade on the run.

“So damaged is al-Qaeda’s image that bin Laden even considered changing its name,” John Brennan, President Obama’s Assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said in a speech.

“And one of the reasons? As bin Laden said himself, US officials “have largely stopped using the phrase ‘the war on terror’ in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims.”

The name al-Qaeda is Arabic for the base, and refers to the training bases fighters occupied while battling the Soviet army in Afghanistan.

Brannan’s information comes from bin Laden’s documents, which were found at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was hiding out when he was killed by US forces last spring.

Bin Laden’s American-born public relations chief, Adam Gadahn, said al-Qaeda had become known as a group that ‘does not hesitate to take people’s money by falsehood, detonating mosques, spilling the blood of scores of people,’ Brennan said.

Bin Laden himself agreed that ‘a large portion’ of Muslims around the world ‘have lost their trust’ in the terrorist group. Hence, the name change. Brennan said bin Laden was trying to escape the negative image had on al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden also worried that too many of his experienced leaders had been killed and that too many junior terrorists were rising through the ranks.

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Navy Seals slam Obama for politicising Osama’s death
Washington: Former and current Navy SEALs have slammed US President Barack Obama for politicising the killing of Osama bin Laden, and using the military outfit as “ammunition” to get re-elected.

“The decision was a no-brainer,” said Montana state senator Ryan Zinke, a 23-year veteran of the special forces outfit. “I applaud him for making it but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call.”

A serving SEAL Team member said, “Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because he speechwriters are smart.” 

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