BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Videotapes obtained during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan hideout released by the U.S. Saturday revealed images of the Al Qaeda leader preparing his video messages and watching himself on television.
The five movies offer the first public glimpse at bin Laden’s life behind the walls of his compound in suburban Pakistan.
The government-selected clips also provide an opportunity for the U.S. to paint bin Laden in an unflattering light to his supporters. They video include outtakes of his propaganda films and, taken together, portray him as someone obsessed with his own image and how he is portrayed to the world.
WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports
The videos don’t include audio. The U.S. did not want to spread Al Qaeda propaganda, according to Bob Orr, CBS News homeland security correspondent.
Senator John Kerry speaking at a town hall meeting in downtown Boston, told reporters he hadn’t seen Osama bin Laden’s home videos Saturday afternoon.
Kerry said he didn’t know why the clips were made public.
WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton spoke to a local expert about the clips.
“I don’t think they change very much,” said Kerry, “I’m surprised frankly they’ve been released because I don’t know what it adds to.”
Kerry added that the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound gathered a “treasure trove of evidence,” and the videos aren’t the most vital information collected.
“The documents, the computers, there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to be a lot more critical to us going forward,” said Kerry.
Kerry also said he has questions as to what Pakistani intelligence knew about Bin Laden’s hideout.
The videos also showed him holding a remote control scrolling through a series of channels on a small TV in the Abbottabad compound, watching pictures of himself on TV. Orr also noted that bin Laden dyed his grey beard black for the propaganda videos.
The bin Laden compound was an active command and control facility for Al Qaeda and bin Laden was actively engaged in coming up with and spreading ideas, U.S. officials said in the briefing.
Among the videos was an unreleased propaganda video made in October or November 2010 that was aimed at the U.S.
“The administration is trying to start a narrative offensive against Al Qaeda,” said Juan Zarate, a CBS News security consultant and former deputy security advisor to President George W. Bush. In painting an unflattering picture of bin Laden, it helps “deconstruct the mythology” around the terrorist leader, he explained.
“This has Al Qaeda on its heels. No new leader has been announced, signaling dissension within Al Qaeda,” Zarate said.
WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez contributed to this report
(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)