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April 30th, 2012
04:06 PM ET

CNN obtains access to al Qaeda documents

A year since the death of Osama bin Laden, CNN has gained access to documents that outline al Qaeda's inner workings, including details of high-profile plots and attacks.

Journalists from the network – including CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson – have viewed one of a total of 141 documents found following the arrest of two al Qaeda operates. The arrests, which were made by German intelligence operatives, took place in Europe in the days following the death of Osama bin Laden last year.

Robertson's report – Part 1

Robertson's report – Part 2

The documents were discovered hidden within a pornographic movie on a data chip with highly sophisticated security encryption. They offer an intimate insight into some of al Qaeda’s most notorious operations, as well as some of the tactics used by the organization as it attempts to elude the counter-terrorism initiatives of the world’s military and intelligence agencies.

The documents contain the first ever confirmation that al Qaeda was behind the London 7/7 and 7/21 plots, as well as the plan to use liquid explosives in a campaign of terror on airlines. They contain a highly detailed 46 page account from Rashid Rauf, the terrorist behind the plots.

“These documents show that London was extremely lucky on 7/21. The terrorists were using the same bomb-building instructions as the 7/7 bombers, who had actually encountered the same problem with the way they had mixed their explosives," said Robertson. " The 7/7 bombers had closer contacts with Rauf and were able to contact him and change their bombs so that they worked.”

Robertson adds: “These documents lay open al Qaeda’s inner workings. They prove the links between some of its highest profile plots and attacks, and show how it is trying to cope with the constant pressure from military and intelligence operations against it.”

Read Peter Bergen's op-ed: Bin Laden: Seized documents show delusional leader and micromanager 

Read Security Clearance blog post: The bin Laden Situation Room revisited – One year later 

Read the CNN Wire here.

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