The United States has released several videos seized by U.S. forces from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's Pakistani hideout that show him watching himself on television and rehearsing to make statements to the world.
U.S. Navy Seals killed the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. in a predawn raid last Monday on bin Laden's mansion in the garrison town of Abbottabad. Before leaving, the commandos seized what U.S. officials described Saturday as the largest terrorism data collection ever.
The intelligence official briefing reporters said that the videos, computer drives and other materials showed that bin Laden was "far from a figurehead, he was an active player" in al-Qaida's operation. Under ground rules with reporters, the official's name could not be divulged.
Bin Laden seemed particularly concerned about how he presented himself to the world.
One video showed bin Laden intently watching television newscasts about himself. He was sitting on the floor, wrapped in a brown blanket, holding a remote control, flipping back and forth between channels that apparently were showing live coverage of himself. He watched it on an old, small television set on top of a desk, with a tangle of wires leading to a nearby control box.
In that video, his unkempt beard was streaked gray.
But in another, he has apparently dyed his beard black and neatly trimmed it for the filming of a propaganda video, one titled "Message to the American People," that was believed to have been recorded last October or November. The videos the U.S. selected to release did not contain any audio.
The intelligence official briefing reporters said that U.S. officials who have examined bin Laden's DNA samples have determined there is only a one in 1.8 quadrillion chance that the man the Navy Seals killed is not bin Laden.
U.S. officials have been searching through seized items in hopes of learning of what plans al-Qaida had for future attacks and where other al-Qaida officials are living.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.