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A Lion in Winter?

9:05 AM, Apr 13, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Similarly, in May 2011, ProPublica’s Sebastian Rotella talked to intelligence officials who had knowledge of the documents. Rotella concluded that bin Laden “clearly played a role in al Qaeda's operational, tactical and strategic planning.”

“You could describe him as a micro-manager,” one U.S. official told Rotella. “The cumbersome process he had to follow for security reasons did not prevent him from playing a role...He was down in the weeds as far as best operatives, best targets, best timing.”

Still other evidence comes from relatively recent plots, including al Qaeda’s nascent plan to launch Mumbai-style attacks against European cities in 2010. That plot was reportedly ordered by bin Laden himself.  

Some in the counterterrorism community have long tried to downplay or outright dismiss bin Laden’s role in managing al Qaeda’s operations after he fled Afghanistan in late 2001. Evidence demonstrating the opposite was true—that bin Laden maintained a direct role in managing terrorist operations until his death—continues to mount.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

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