According to newly released documents, Osama bin Laden mulled renaming Al Qaeda amid worries that the terrorist group had become a tarnished brand.
That's one of the details tucked in thousands of pages of documents that were seized in last year's Navy SEAL raid. West Point’s Center for Combating Terrorism (CTC) released a study of 17 declassified documents today, offering a window into Mr. bin Laden’s views.
The report notes that one of “the most compelling” stories to come out of the declassified documents is bin Laden’s struggle to rein in Al Qaeda affiliates, and keep his intended message and branding on track.
“I plan to release a statement [announcing] that we are starting a new phase to correct [the mistakes] we made; in so doing, we shall reclaim, God willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the Jihadis,” bin Laden wrote in 2010.
The CTC report notes that though bin Laden publicly condemned the West, focusing on the repression and injustices exacted on Muslims by countries like the US, his private correspondence reveals that he was particularly pained by domestic jihadi attacks on Muslims.
His frustration may have even led bin Laden to consider rebranding his Al Qaeda movement as a whole. One letter by an unknown author suggests a list of potential names (see English translated document # 0000009). Some of the proposed options are aimed at making followers of Islam feel more included in the organization.
But pithy they are not:
* Tanthim al-Jihadi li-tawhid al-Umma wa-inkathiha, which means Jihad Organization for Unification and Rescue of the Nation,
* Tanthim al-Jihadi litahrir al-aksa wa-tawhid al-Umma, or Jihad Organization to Liberate Al-Aqsa and Unify the Nation,