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Bin Laden documents to go online Thursday

By Joe Sterling, CNN
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Tue May 1, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A West Point think tank will put the documents online Thursday
  • The Arabic originals and English translations will be issued
  • The Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden's compound occurred a year ago

(CNN) -- For the first time, the general public will be able to see a number of the 6,000-plus documents seized in last year's raid on Osama bin Laden's compound.

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point said it will release the material online Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, announced the release in remarks Monday to the Woodrow Wilson Center on Counterterrorism.

The center, an academic institution at the U.S. Military Academy in New York, said it plans to release original versions in Arabic and translations in English.

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"The CTC will issue a short report contextualizing the documents and providing an overview of their most salient themes," the center said.

U.S. Navy SEALs killed the al Qaeda leader in the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and seized reams of material described by scholars and officials as a "treasure trove."

The dramatic and historic assault took place in the early morning hours of May 2, Pakistan-time; while it was late May 1 in Washington. It ended a nearly 10-year hunt for the elusive militant, who headed the terror network that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

The CTC didn't say which and how many documents will be released.

Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst and author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden From 9/11 to Abbottabad," said he reviewed some of the documents for his research. They are declassified memos written by bin Laden and his subordinates.

"The only documents that will be released are the ones that I was able to review," he said Tuesday. "Bottom line is, this will be several hundred pages only."

In a CNN column Tuesday adapted from the book, Bergen called bin Laden "an inveterate micromanage." He said bin Laden was under the "delusion" that his group "could still force a change" in U.S. foreign policy if it was able to pull off another major strike.

"The memos paint a picture of an organization that understood it was in deep danger from the American drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions that had been decimating its leadership since summer 2008," Bergen said.

Brennan said one conclusion that can be reached from the documents is that al Qaeda "has had trouble replacing" field commanders "being lost so quickly." He's referring to the killing and capturing of those fighters.

"For example, bin Laden worried about -- and I quote -- "the rise of lower leaders who are not as experienced,' and this would lead to the repeat of mistakes," Brennan said.

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