Is al Qaeda fixated on America?

On Wednesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released documents that were seized by U.S. commandos during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. These documents contain details of negotiations between al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, as well as its representatives in Yemen, to portray that Osama bin Laden was fixated on attacking the United States and pressured al Qaeda affiliates to put aside other struggles and focus on attacking American targets.

According to a Reuters article, one of the many letters discovered was written by a bin Laden associate who identified as “Atiyyah”. This letter was a summary of the game plan:

“The purpose is to focus on striking inside America and its interest abroad, especially oil producing countries, to agitate public opinion and to force US to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq.”

A letter from 2010 shows that Bin Laden urged Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to sign a truce with Yemeni authorities in which the government would not bother the group “in exchange for focusing on America”. This was one of many documents that urged groups to make peace with their own governments, and focus their energy and resources on weakening the U.S.

The commandos also discovered a several page document printed on pages with a watermark of “The Security Committee – al Qaeda Organization” which they translated as a job application form for potential al Qaeda members. This document asked when an applicant had arrived in “the land of Jihad”, which sheiks or dignitaries they knew, which countries they were familiar with, how much of the Quran they had memorized, which passports they possessed, and whether they were interested in a suicide operation.

Whether this fixation on the United States has carried on after the death of Bin Laden is unknown, however the job application, letters and accompanying documents give a terrifying sense of the organization and focus of the al-Qaeda network.