Bin Laden spent last weeks trying to build "grand coalition" of jihadi groups

The terrorist leader, who had made repeated efforts to unify militant groups, was even considering risking leaving his safe house in Abbottabad, the northern Pakistani garrison town, to try to build a fresh alliance through face-to-face meetings, sources in Pakistan, Afghanistan and America have told the Guardian.

Western intelligence services and Richard Barrett, head of the United Nations al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions committee, told the Guardian the reports that Bin Laden was planning a “grand coalition” were credible.

“Bin Laden found it pretty difficult to be marginalised and was making a huge effort to stay relevant. There was some indication that he was looking at re-energising links with [other local militant groups] to give himself a central role,” Barrett said.