Bin Laden's ambitious final plans

The most tantalizing nugget in these documents is Rahman’s claim that the British, too, were exploring a separate peace. He told bin Laden that according to Libyan operatives in Britain, “British intelligence spoke to them . . . [to] find out what they [al-Qaeda] thought of the following idea: England is ready to leave Afghanistan if al-Qaeda would explicitly commit to not moving against England or her interests.” A spokesman for the British Embassy in Washington said “the claims are completely untrue.”

Hunkered down in Abbottabad, bin Laden was utterly focused on striking the United States “in its heartland.” He noted that the slow bleed wasn’t working: Vietnam had been far more costly to America than Afghanistan; al-Qaeda’s allies would have to kill 100 times more people to equal the Vietnam death toll.

What was needed, he said a few weeks before his death, was another “large operation inside America [that] affects the security and nerves of 300 million Americans.” Al-Qaeda and its offshoots haven’t achieved that goal yet.