U.S. counterterrorism officials have concluded that Osama bin Laden was aware of the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, but it was the last successful operation in which he played a prominent role, Reuters reports. While circumstantial information and government analysis suggests that bin Laden was in close contact with terrorist plotters abroad, data found in his Abbotabad compound does not show evidence of any new plots.
“Bin Laden was absolutely a detail guy. We have every reason to believe that he was aware of al Qaeda’s major plots during the planning phase, including the airline plot in 2006 and the London ‘7-7’ attacks,” one of the U.S. officials told Reuters. “We believe he was aware of these plots ahead of time,” one of the officials said.
Data seized after the raid which killed him shows that bin Laden was often aware of plots before they happened. The evidence firmly ties the al-Qaida mastermind to the 7/7 bombings for the first time and indicates that al-Qaida’s senior leadership “supervised” Najibullah Zazi’s 2009 attempt to bomb New York’s subway. It also suggests that bin Laden was personally involved in a European plot last year, which sparked heightened terror alerts in Germany, France, and Britain.
Despite the involvement of al-Qaida’s supreme leader, none of the attacks managed to get off the ground. Western intelligence sources interrupted the plots, all of which were large-scale attempts designed to maximize casualties. As a result, American al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and other leaders of the group have called for a campaign of small-scale and lone-wolf terrorist attacks.