Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 15:00 [IST]
Washington, May 1: The felling of his top commanders one after the other by US drone strikes had plunged the slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden into gloom in his last days and he was mulling changing the name of the group, a top US official said.
Bin Laden rued "disaster after disaster", inflicted by the US drones in his last days, according to Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan, who claimed that the CIA campaign had left al-Qaeda seriously weakened and unable to replace wiped out commanders.
Brennan said Osama's frustration at the hits suffered by his group poured out in documents seized from his last hideout at Abbottabad in Pakistan where he was killed on May 2, 2011.
The US official claimed that Osama had "confessed to disaster after disaster" in some of the captured documents which would be published online this week by the Combating Terrorism Centre at the US Military Academy at West Point.
The American official said that the documents showed that al-Qaeda leader had asked his subordinates to flee for places "away from drones and missile hits."
Brennan said that al-Qaeda's killing of innocents-mostly Muslim men, women and children - has badly tarnished its image and appeal in the eyes of Muslims around the world.
"So damaged is al-Qaeda's image that bin Laden even considered changing its name," he said. "Even bin Laden and his lieutenants knew this. His propagandist, Adam Gadahn, admitted that they were now seen as a group that does not hesitate to take people's money by falsehood, detonating mosques, (and) spilling the blood of scores of people."
Bin Laden agreed that "a large portion" of Muslims around the world "have lost their trust" in al-Qaeda, Brennan said.
Brennan said despite the great progress US has made against al-Qaeda, it would be a mistake to believe this threat has passed.