Report: Bin Laden Was Plotting To Kill President Obama

David Ignatius reports in The Washington Post today that intelligence uncovered from the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden indicates that the al Qaeda leader had instructed his organization to find a way to kill the President of the United States:

Before his death, Osama bin Laden boldly commanded his network to organize special cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the aircraft of President Obama and Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“The reason for concentrating on them,” the al-Qaeda leader explained to his top lieutenant, “is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make [Vice President] Biden take over the presidency. . . . Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour . . . and killing him would alter the war’s path” in Afghanistan.

Administration officials said Friday that the Obama-Petraeus plot was never a serious threat.

The scheme is described in one of the documents taken from bin Laden’s compound by U.S. forces on May 2, the night he was killed. I was given an exclusive look at some of these remarkable documents by a senior administration official. They have been declassified and will be available soon to the public in their original Arabic texts and translations.

The man bin Laden hoped would carry out the attacks on Obama and Petraeus was the Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri. “Please ask brother Ilyas to send me the steps he has taken into that work,” bin Laden wrote to his top lieutenant, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman. A month after bin Laden’s death, Kashmiri was killed in a U.S. drone attack.

As with many of the apparent plots that have been uncovered since the raid, this appears to have been more bluster than anything else since al Qaeda lacks the ability to target American aircraft, and certainly doesn’t seem to have the capability to infiltrate the security bubble that surrounds the President on a daily basis.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, National Security, Politicians, Quick Takes, Terrorism, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Paul L. says:

    Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis.

    But Sarah Palin is the one who was totally unprepared.
    HT : ‘Jim’ ‘Treacher’ ‏

  2. mantis says:

    @Paul L.:

    Amusing that the right wing finds Osama bin Laden’s opinions on American government and politics compelling. What other advice do you guys take from terrorists?

  3. Rob in CT says:

    Pretty poor analysis by the late, unlamented OBL.

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I feel bad for the sharks who had the misfortune of dining on that dish of crapola.

  5. Hey Norm says:

    @ Mantis…
    That’s the problem…they listen to, and believe, terrorists.
    OBL wanted Bush to over-react to 9.11…Bush over-reacted.
    Netanyahoo wants to drop a nukular bomb on Iran…Republicans want to drop a nukular bomb on Iran.

  6. Paul L. says:

    @mantis:
    You are just mad that Biden being an blowhard idiot is obvious to anyone outside the progressive echo chamber.

  7. Nikki says:

    Good lord, if the rabble already IN the country haven’t been able to do it, what made him think HE could?

  8. MM says:

    I guess I don’t see why Treacher and Paul L consider this such a gotcha.

  9. Bleev K says:

    @Paul L.: Do you even realize how pathetic you are?

  10. Mr Evilwrench says:

    Heh. If they’d had the wherewithal, it would have helped us. Biden’s so feckless and incompetent he’d be harmless, vs the malignancy barky is. I don’t know why everyone’s so worried about him.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Actually, Biden’s been right from the start that we should move to a small but lethal force in Afghanistan. But please: don’t let facts complicate your right-wing idiocy.

  12. In OBL’s defense, he was probably high at the time.

  13. PogueMahone says:

    Report: Coyote was plotting to kill Roadrunner.

  14. mantis says:

    Heh. If they’d had the wherewithal, it would have helped us.

    Another wingnut who is today lamenting the fact that terrorists have not been able to assassinate the president.

  15. Tom Hilton says:

    this appears to have been more bluster than anything else

    Yup. Never a serious possibility. But the frustration that made bin Laden want to target him is a pretty good indication of how effective the President’s campaign against al Qaeda has been.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.:

    You are just mad that Biden being an blowhard idiot is obvious to anyone outside the progressive echo chamber.

    And you are just mad that Bush/Cheney were a couple of incompetent blowhard idiots who couldn’t get the job done, but Obama/Biden did.

    B!tchslap.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    Mr. Bush launched two botched wars and blackened this country’s reputation with torture.

    Mr. Obama avenged 9-11 by killing Bin Laden.

    There’s the talk, and then there’s the walk. There’s the hat, and then there’s the cattle. There’s blowhard Republicans, and then there’s effective Democrats.

  18. Septimius says:

    “I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney Barack Obama was not in power, people wouldn’t be dying needlessly tomorrow … I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.”

  19. An Interested Party says:

    You are just mad that Biden being an blowhard idiot is obvious to anyone outside the progressive echo chamber.

    Actually you appear to be the one who is mad that so few people take Sarah Palin seriously…you poor dear…

    I guess I don’t see why Treacher and Paul L consider this such a gotcha.

    Because they are so desperate to smear the Obama Administration that they are taking the words of al-Qaeda trash as gospel…

  20. Jenos Idanian says:

    “Plotting?” There was no “plot.” There were “aspirations” and “intentions.” To call this a “plot” is like calling Fast & Furious a “botched sting” — there was no planned “sting” to “botch.”

    And Bin Laden was right about Biden. Biden is a bigger idiot than Dan Quayle, a bigger liar than Richard Nixon, a bigger fraud than the Piltdown Man, and a bigger blowhard than Rush Limbaugh. (OK, not on that last one, but close.) Biden voted against the first Iraq war, for the second, and argued in favor of partitioning Iraq into three nations. Half his job is making Obama look competent (as well as “clean and articulate”) by comparison, half is serving as Obama’s assassination insurance.

  21. Jenos Idanian says:

    Oh… and after 9/11, thanks to Bush, Al Qaeda NEVER pulled off a successful attack in the US again. They had to content themselves with going after our allies (UK and Spain), as well as third-world countries. Bush broke them HARD.

  22. Bleev K says:

    @Jenos Idanian: And of course, in your twisted mind, 9/11 doesn’t count… You’re a pathetic moron.

  23. anjin-san says:

    Al Qaeda NEVER pulled off a successful attack in the US again

    Yea, Bush’s record is not that bad. 3000 Americans murdered in the heart of NYC, a pile of rubble where the WTC used to be. Good point.

  24. An Interested Party says:

    It’s really not a good idea to give Bush any credit for anything while also mentioning 9/11…unless of course one wants to look like a fool…

  25. Jenos Idanian says:

    The stirring defenses of Joe Biden are quite remarkable. And I don’t need to defend Bush — the record is clear: after a string of successful attacks on the US during the Clinton administration (the first WTC bombing, the African embassy bombings, the Khobar towers bombing, and the USS Cole bombing), they pulled off their greatest coup. And after that… lots of empty threats and dire warnings, but never a single successful operation against the US.

  26. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Let us also not forget, the Earth’s core didn’t stop spinning under GWB’s watch, there were no schoolchildren attacked by enraged flocks of crows, and all the Texas-sized asteroids stayed far, far away from our ionosphere. Also, nobody cloned any dinosaurs.

  27. @Jenos Idanian:

    You do remember that GWB had “Bin Laden Determined to Strike” sitting on his desk before 9/11, right?

    I wouldn’t put it all on GWB. There is “fog of war” in counter-terrorism. It’s just absurd to give him a 100% grade, given that warning.

  28. matt says:

    Biden voted against the first Iraq war, for the second, and argued in favor of partitioning Iraq into three nations.

    Clear evidence that Biden understands Iraq far better then you. The low level civil war that has been being fought for the last several years still could result in a partitioned Iraq.

    Obviously the vote against invading Iraq was a very smart vote and it’s too bad he was in the minority on that one.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    after a string of successful attacks on the US during the Clinton administration (the first WTC bombing, the African embassy bombings, the Khobar towers bombing, and the USS Cole bombing), they pulled off their greatest coup.

    Yes, their greatest coup being pulled off while Bush was president…it isn’t so much that anyone needs to defend Bush, but rather, that no one can defend Bush for that disaster…

  30. jenos idanian says:

    @matt: Biden voted against the 1991 war, for the 2002 one.

  31. matt says:

    @jenos idanian: Never cared to look. Should of known better then to trust you for information..

  32. Jenos Idanian says:

    So, the response to my statement that “this plot is a joke, and Biden’s a bigger one?”

    SQUIRREL!!!

    Now that i have access to a full keyboard, let me spell it out for you, Matt:

    Biden voted AGAINST the first Gulf War, in 1992, when Saddam invaded Kuwait.

    Biden then voted FOR the 2002 Iraq invasion.

    And several years later, Biden put forth his “Iraq plan” that called for partitioning Iraq into three autonomous regions, along racial/sectarian lines — a plan that had the beneficial effect of uniting all three parties in saying it was the dumbest proposal they’d ever heard of.

    Biden — Obama’s personal choice as the guy one heartbeat away from the Oval Office — is a blithering idiot who is most famous for his BSing, his shooting his mouth off, his plagiarism, his lies, and his just plain stupidity.

    And most of you voted for him and Obama.

  33. matt says:

    Well then Biden sucked in 2002 and the partitioning was welcomed by several sects in IRAQ (especially the Kurds).

  34. Peter 4 Ron says:

    Soooooo we are suppose to be surprised? Thank God Mr President had a plan that was actioned faster than Bin Laden….(sarcasm people) if we would get our noses out of other countries the likelihood of retaliation against the US of A would be non-exsistant/much less.

  35. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Bleev K: @anjin-san: @An Interested Party: And just what, pray tell, does “whose responsibility was 9/11” have to do with “what are Al Qaeda’s tactical capabilities 10 years later?”

    SQUIRREL!

    This story is a huge amount of nothing. “Bin Laden wanted to kill Obama and realized Joe Biden was an idiot.” In other news, water continues to be wet and top scientists confirm 2 + 2 still equals 4.

  36. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You were the one who brought up 9/11 and how much Bush did after that event but that logic fails as it was on Bush’s watch when 9/11 happened…and screaming, “SQUIRREL!” from the top of your lungs doesn’t change that fact…

  37. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: It’s called a “data point.” Prior to 9/11, Al Qaeda carried out major operations within the United States. Since then, they have not. And assassinating the President of the United States within the US would be a major operation.

    Outside the US? Bush had one scare, in Georgia. Apart from that, if any happened, they were kept quiet.

    I suspect that the Secret Service is as terrified at the thought of President Biden as I am, in addition to their professional pride, and that Obama is quite possibly the safest president ever.

    To repeat the two points no one wants to address: to call this a “plot” is ludicrous, and Biden’s a complete idiot.

  38. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You have provided a “data point” that defeats your whole argument about how Bush supposedly kept our country so safe…

    To repeat the two points no one wants to address: to call this a “plot” is ludicrous, and Biden’s a complete idiot.

    Maybe you shouldn’t have changed the subject by bringing up 9/11…

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: So, then, tell us the details of this carefully-crafted “plot” that posed such a great danger to Obama. Discuss the great resources Bin Laden had at his disposal, their record of carrying out attacks in the US over the last 10 years, the extraordinary efforts we’ve had to undertake to keep ourselves safe…

    Al Qaeda had a good run under Clinton, with several very successful attacks against the US. They had their greatest success. And since then, it’s all been downhill.

    This “plot” is as big a joke as your arguments, as big a joke as Joe Biden. And your flailing to find any excuse to change the subject…

  40. An Interested Party says:

    So, then, tell us the details of this carefully-crafted “plot” that posed such a great danger to Obama. Discuss the great resources Bin Laden had at his disposal…

    I don’t need to do any of that, as none of that was part of any argument or point I was making…

    Al Qaeda had a good run under Clinton, with several very successful attacks against the US. They had their greatest success under Bush.

    Once again, happy to be of help…

    And your flailing to find any excuse to change the subject…

    Once again, you were the one who changed the subject by bringing up 9/11

  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: You’re really not that stupid, and you’re not smart enough to play that dumb. So just hang it up. You’re no Joe Biden.

    The whole POINT of this thread was the ludicrous idea that there was a “plot” to kill Obama. The relevance of 9/11 was that was the last time Al Qaeda pulled off anything in the US, and that was a decade ago.

    To sum it up once more: the original article talked about Bin Laden “plotting” to kill Obama. There was no plot; they didn’t have the resources and capabilities to even begin to start a remotely plausible “plot.” The only reason to call it such that I can imagine is to fortify Obama’s “tough guy” reputation — God knows maintaining that kind of fiction takes serious work.

    And, and Biden’s still an idiot. Even Bin Laden knew that. Pity you can’t also admit it…

  42. An Interested Party says:

    Pity you can’t also admit it just let me direct the conversation and agree with me about whatever point I want to make, whether it is accurate and germane to this post or not…

    Indeed, a real pity…

  43. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm…and let’s look at why Bin Laden wanted to kill the President–because his policy was effective…