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Videos Reveal Osama Bin Laden's Life In Hiding

GUY RAZ, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz.

A lot of news to cover this hour. Many in Congress are now asking whether U.S. support for Pakistan is worth it. We'll hear from a top U.S. senator who oversees policy toward that country and a former U.S. ambassador to Islamabad in a moment.

But first, to a series of remarkable videos of Osama bin Laden seized by those Navy SEALs in the raid on his compound this past week. The Pentagon has now released some of those videos and briefed reporters on what they're learning from the computers, files and videos they found in that compound.

NPR's Rachel Martin was at the briefing, and she joins me from the Pentagon.

Rachel, first, for those who have not seen those videos, can you describe them?

RACHEL MARTIN: Sure, Guy. There are five very short video clips, and three of them are what intelligence officials are describing as essentially a bin Laden outtake reel. These are videos of bin Laden apparently practicing giving video messages.

And they can't confirm where they were filmed or when. But a senior intelligence official today said that the wooden armoire that bin Laden is standing in front of in one of these is very similar to a piece of furniture that was located in the compound in Abbottabad.

RAZ: And there's one video where bin Laden is essentially watching himself on TV.

MARTIN: Yeah, this is really interesting. We haven't seen very many images of bin Laden in an environment like this. He's wrapped up in some kind of blanket, appears to be sitting on the floor in this very dark room, no windows. And he's sitting a couple of feet from a small TV that's on an old wooden desk. And he's holding a remote control up and flipping through images of himself.

These are clips of him in appearances on television news programs. And in one image, a very profound image, there's a split screen with bin Laden's face on one side and the falling World Trade Center towers on the other.

RAZ: And, Rachel, briefer said Pentagon spent quite a bit of time talking about how they confirm that this was indeed Osama bin Laden, right?

MARTIN: That's right, Guy. Intelligence officials talked about how precise the DNA testing is that they did on bin Laden's body. And one U.S. official said that based on that DNA testing, the chance that this was not Osama bin Laden is only one in 11.8 quadrillion. I didn't even know there was a number that big. But safe to say that they are very sure that this was him.

RAZ: Rachel, what are intelligence officials saying about the significance of these videos and all the material they seized in that compound?

MARTIN: The big takeaway from this, Guy, is that intelligence officials say that the intelligence demonstrates that bin Laden had operational control of the al-Qaida network.

You know, for years, we were told that bin Laden was a figurehead. He wasn't operationally significant. They're saying now that is not true. They've got digital files, audio files, handwritten documents that they say only bin Laden could have written.

And all this intelligence, they say, demonstrates that bin Laden was still carrying out a tactical lead in al-Qaida that he was inspiring al-Qaida and its affiliates to carry out more attacks and more attacks on the U.S.

RAZ: That's NPR's Rachel Martin at the Pentagon.

Rachel, thanks so much.

MARTIN: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.