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News Wrap: Bin Laden Documents Reveal Planned Attacks on Obama, Petraeus

May 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Nearly 200 pages worth of documents seized in last year’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound were released today. They reveal bin Laden was determined to carry out attacks on high-profile American targets, such as President Obama and General David Petraeus when he commanded troops in Afghanistan.

The documents also showed the al-Qaida leader was frustrated by dysfunction within his terror network. They were posted online by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

I spoke with Brian Fishman, a research fellow with the center, earlier today.

BRIAN FISHMAN, New America Foundation: What these documents do show is that al-Qaida central and Osama bin Laden was better networked to the al-Qaida affiliates, I think, than was commonly understood.

He was able to communicate with a wide range of affiliates. The issue is that they didn’t always listen to him. One of the key messages that he and his top lieutenants were trying to get out to the affiliates around the world was the idea that that they shouldn’t kill Muslims and that they should worry more about their sort of political position within the Middle East and within the Muslim world. That hasn’t worked.

HARI SREENIVASAN: You can view my entire interview and read the newly released bin Laden documents online on our website.

In Syria, security forces killed four students and wounded dozens more in an hours-long campus raid that ended this morning. The crackdown took place in Aleppo after 1,500 students protested against the regime on Wednesday. Amateur video purportedly shows government troops storming Aleppo University late last night. Activists said the troops fired live ammunition and tear gas, then arrested some 200 students.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney denounced the violence, and stressed that the cease-fire is not working.

JAY CARNEY, White House press secretary: These kinds of acts, which are now routine, lay bare this regime’s illegitimacy, and they underscore the urgent need for a political transition.

If the regime’s intransigence continues, the international community is going to have to admit defeat and work to address the serious threat to peace and stability being perpetrated by the Assad regime.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Syrian forces have stormed the Aleppo campus before, but last night’s raid was the most violent.

Egypt’s ruling generals vowed again today to transfer power to a civilian administration in the next two months. That assurance came a day after at least 11 people were killed in clashes between apparent military council supporters and a mostly Islamist crowd. A senior member of the military council reiterated its promise today at a news conference in Cairo.

MAJ. GEN. MOHAMMED AL-ASAR, Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces (through translator): We say it frankly and clearly. The armed forces and their Supreme Council are committed to the handover of power on June 30. We do not desire power.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Egypt’s presidential elections will be held later this month, but a winner isn’t expected to be announced until late June.

In economic news, the number of people seeking unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell sharply last week. Average mortgage rates have also fallen to record lows. Meanwhile, retailers reported their worst performance since 2009.

The conflicting news pushed stocks lower on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 62 points to close at 13,206. The Nasdaq fell 35 points to close at 3,024.

Seven of the 11 people charged in the death of a Florida A&M University band member have now turned themselves in to authorities. Robert Champion was found unconscious last November aboard a charter bus in Orlando. The medical examiner said he’d been beaten and gone into shock. The 11 defendants face third-degree felony hazing charges. Four of them remain at large.

More than 100 former pro football players are suing the NFL over inadequate protection from concussion-related brain injuries. A federal lawsuit in Georgia claims the league didn’t do enough to educate players about the dangers of concussions, and is failing to take proper care of them. They’re among more than 1,000 former NFL players who have brought legal actions on the same grounds. The NFL has said any allegations of intentional misleading are without merit.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.