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Seized Bin Laden Writings Yield New Details, Rwandan Woman Convicted of Genocide

Pakistani media personnel and local residents gather outside the hideout of Osama bin Laden following his death by U.S. Special Forces in a ground operation in Abbottabad. Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Writings seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, show that he had been concerned about al-Qaida’s image and considered changing the group’s name. According to the Associated Press:

The problem with the name al-Qaida, bin Laden wrote in a letter recovered from his compound in Pakistan, was that it lacked a religious element, something to convince Muslims worldwide that they are in a holy war with America.

Maybe something like Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad, meaning Monotheism and Jihad Group, would do the trick, he wrote. Or Jama’at I’Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida, meaning Restoration of the Caliphate Group.

Bin Laden was reportedly concerned that the deaths of so many Muslims at the hands of al-Qaida caused further harm to its reputation, and that it needed to do a better job of conveying the belief that America and other Western nations were enemies of Islam.

He also wrote about the deaths of senior members of his organization who were being rapidly replaced by newer and younger members.

The New York Times reported that a cellphone belonging to one of bin Laden’s aides revealed information about al-Qaida’s relationship with Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, a militant group with ties to Pakistan’s intelligences services. The information raised questions about whether those connections factored into his residing in Pakistan:

In tracing the calls on the cellphone, American analysts have determined that Harakat commanders had called Pakistani intelligence officials, the senior American officials said. One said they had met. The officials added that the contacts were not necessarily about Bin Laden and his protection and that there was no “smoking gun” showing that Pakistan’s spy agency had protected Bin Laden.

The May 2 raid in Abbottabad caused further strain in U.S.-Pakistani relations. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday that the relationship is critical to protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy in the region.

A survey of public opinion in Pakistan showed widespread disapproval of the raid. The Pew Research Center poll showed a mere 12 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of the United States.

Former Rwandan Minister Convicted of Genocide

Former Rwandan women’s minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko was sentenced to life in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for her role in the rape and killing of Tutsi women and girls in 1994, when more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Nyiramasuhuko, 65, is the first woman convicted in connection with the Rwandan genocide in the U.N.-supported ICTR. (Other women have been convicted by domestic courts.) She has denied the allegations. Her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, was also sentenced to life in prison for similar charges.

First Lady Michelle Obama Arrives in Botswana

First lady Michelle Obama began her visit to Botswana on Friday, following a stop in South Africa where she met with former South African president Nelson Mandela at his home. The first lady is accompanied by daughters Sasha and Malia. Her trips has centered around public health.

In Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, Obama visited a clinic that treats HIV/AIDS patients, where she helped paint a wall mural. Botswana has about 300,000 people who have HIV/AIDS.

Obama praised Botswana as a “thriving democracy” and said it demonstrates “a vision of Africa on the move.”

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