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Osama bin Laden wanted to rebrand al Qaeda: White House

Frustrated over al Qaeda’s recognition as a global terror outfit, its chief Osama bin Laden wanted to change the name of the group to identify it more closely with Islam before he was killed by US special forces in Pakistan, the White House has said.

“He (bin Laden) even contemplated, in those writings, changing the name of al Qaeda to try to more closely identify it with Islam,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, referring to the treasure trove of information recovered from the Abbottabad hide out of the al Qaeda leader.

“He felt like that would be helpful to their flagging recruiting efforts. That is an indication that our efforts to be crystal-clear about what it is that we’re fighting and what we’re not has not just been successful, but actually frustrated the efforts of our enemies,” Earnest said.

In the operation to recover and bring to justice bin Laden, US commandos also recovered a treasure trove of material from his residence where they were able to evaluate some of his ongoing communications and even some of his thinking about the state of al Qaeda, he said yesterday.

“And in those writings there is clear evidence that he (Laden) was frustrated that al Qaeda was being recognised and acknowledged and fought not as a religious organisation but as a terrorist group,” he said.

Earnest said there is no question that radical ideologues around the globe have sought, and in some cases succeeded, in infiltrating some elements of the Muslim world to propagate their ideology and to try to distort that religion to justify their terrible acts of violence.

“At the same time they would love nothing more than for the US or the West to engage in a religious war with them. But the fact of the matter is, that is not what this is. This is not a religious war. This is not a war on Islam. And those individuals do not represent Islam; the leaders of Islam say as much. And there are a variety of ways that we can assess this,” Earnest said.

The founder and head of al Qaeda, Osama was killed in Pakistan’s Bilal Town in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 by US Navy SEALs of the US Naval Special Warfare Development Group. The operation was carried out in a Central Intelligence Agency-led operation.

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