Videotapes show unflattering view of bin Laden's life in hiding

Osama bin Laden, in a video recovered from his compound and released by the Pentagon. CBS

(CBS/AP) Videotapes obtained during the raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan hideout released by the U.S. Saturday revealed images of the Al Qaeda leader preparing his video messages and watching himself on television.

The five movies offer the first public glimpse at bin Laden's life behind the walls of his compound in suburban Pakistan. The government-selected clips also provide an opportunity for the U.S. to paint bin Laden in an unflattering light to his supporters. They video include outtakes of his propaganda films and, taken together, portray him as someone obsessed with his own image and how he is portrayed to the world.

Watch all five bin Laden videos released by the U.S.

The videos don't include audio. The U.S. did not want to spread Al Qaeda propaganda, said Bob Orr, CBS News homeland security correspondent.

The videos also showed him holding a remote control scrolling through a series of channels on a small TV in the Abbottabad compound, watching pictures of himself on TV. Orr also noted that bin Laden dyed his grey beard black for the propaganda videos.

The bin Laden compound was an active command and control facility for Al Qaeda and bin Laden was actively engaged in coming up with and spreading ideas, U.S. officials said in the briefing.

Among the videos was an unreleased propaganda video made in October or November 2010 that was aimed at the U.S.

"The administration is trying to start a narrative offensive against Al Qaeda," said Juan Zarate, a CBS News security consultant and former deputy security advisor to President George W. Bush. In painting an unflattering picture of bin Laden, it helps "deconstruct the mythology" around the terrorist leader, he explained.

"This has Al Qaeda on its heels. No new leader has been announced, signaling dissension within Al Qaeda," Zarate said.   

2.7 terabytes of data from compound

A law enforcement source told CBS News on Friday that 2.7 terabytes of data were recovered from the laptops, computers, hard drives and other storage devices seized from the bin Laden compound. It's unclear whether all of the 2.7 terabytes are original files or if there are multiple copies of files.

Special Section: The Killing of Osama bin Laden

The first priority, sources told CBS News, is for analysts to determine if the mother-lode of data contains any actionable plots in the works against the U.S. and western interests.

On Friday, it was revealed that the intelligence community had obtained "positive intelligence" from the materials taken from Osama bin Laden's compound which is helping narrow down the locations of core al Qaeda leadership including the whereabouts of Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's former No. 2 man and a candidate to succeed bin Laden.

Intelligence officials have not said how they are analyzing the data, much of it encrypted, but a DOD computer forensic analyst who works on computers captured on the battlefield tells CBS News forensic analysts are most likely using search indexing tools and software to rapidly analyze seized electronic devices to locate information of interest to the intelligence committee.

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  • CBS News Staff

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