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Trove of bin Laden papers includes handwritten will, al-Qaida job application

New insights about Osama bin Laden -- gleaned from material seized after he was killed -- were made public today, including the terror leader's fixation on attacking the U.S. and what was on his bookshelf. The release follows a recent article contradicting the official U.S. account of the hunt for and killing of bin Laden, though the U.S. government says the timing is not related. Gwen Ifill reports.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Today, we found out a bit more about al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, including what he wrote, what he looked for in recruits and what was on his bookshelf.

    The information was revealed in a stack of documents released this morning by the director of national intelligence.

    Osama bin Laden remained fixed on attacking the United States until his death, and he urged al-Qaida's affiliates to put aside rivalries in service of the larger fight. Those insights can be gleaned from the material made public today, as mandated by Congress.

    The director of national intelligence says it was seized after the terror leader was shot dead by Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011. Within the trove, a list of what the SEALs found on what they called bin Laden's bookshelf, including "Imperial Hubris," authored by the CIA officer who headed the search for bin Laden, and "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward.

    The release follows a recent article published in The London Review of Books by longtime investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.

  • SEYMOUR HERSH:

    Our president did authorize the raid. The SEALs carried it out. They did kill bin Laden. They got in and out successfully. And the rest of it is sort of hogwash.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Hersh says that, contrary to the official U.S. account, Pakistan knew about and kept bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad, that the U.S. coordinated the raid in his compound with Pakistan, and that, in fact, very little useful intelligence was seized.

    The White House has flatly denied those claims.

  • JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:

    The story is riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods. The former deputy director of the CIA, Mike Morell, has said that every sentence was wrong.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    In all, officials made 103 bin Laden papers and videos public today. They said the timing wasn't connected to the Hersh story.

    In video released by the U.S., one handwritten letter, a missive to one of his wives, translated by the U.S. government, is titled "My Will," and says: "If I get killed, and you want to return to your family, then that is OK. But you have to raise my children properly."

    Another letter turns out to be a job application to join al-Qaida. Would-be jihadis are instructed to write clearly and legibly. And they are asked, "Who should we contact in case you become a martyr?"

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