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Bin Laden worked directly with Taliban from exile, secret documents reveal

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Confidential documents found in the house where Osama bin Laden was killed last year show a close working relationship between the former al-Qaeda mastermind, the Afghan Taliban and other militants, including joint plans to carry out attacks on NATO troops in Afghanistan.

A three-way conversation between Bin Laden, his then deputy Ayman Zawahiri and Mullah Omar, the overall commander of the Taliban in Afghanistan, indicate a “very considerable degree of ideological convergence,” a Washington-based source familiar with the documents told the Guardian late Sunday.

The cache of documents includes memos apparently dictated by Bin Laden urging followers to avoid indiscriminate attacks which kill Muslims.

But despite recent U.S. and Afghan hopes that the Taliban could be persuaded to renounce terrorism and come to a negotiated peace agreement, the documents have prompted fears that the group “might once again offer a safe haven to al-Qaeda or like-minded militants,” the Guardian reported.

A close alliance or cooperation between senior Taliban and al-Qaeda members is therefore considered deeply problematic.

American officials have sought to draw a distinction between al-Qaeda fighters, of whom they say there are less than 100 in Afghanistan, and the native Taliban who are fighting NATO troops, while last year last year the United Nations split its sanctions list to separate the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

NATO had originally invaded Taliban-controlled Afghanistan because officials there allegedly allowed al-Qaeda to operate within the country and plan the September 11 terrorist attacks.

But the documents show direct communications between the al-Qaeda chief and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, just weeks before the raid in which he was discovered, the Guardian claimed.

The documents include memos stating broad strategic aims but little “hands-on” planning, according to the newspaper’s sources.

Despite Bin Laden communicating with the Taliban and other groups, the former al-Qaeda head appeared to have largely out of touch with the day to day workings of his organization.

“His communications were written on a computer in the compound in Abbottabad where he lived, loaded on to memory sticks and then sent from distant internet cafes by a courier. It was this courier who eventually led the CIA to the al-Qaeda chief,” the newspaper stated.

Bin Laden was killed after being tracked down by U.S. special forces to a safe house in the north-west Pakistani city of Abbottabad in May last year.

The documents, whose dates range from several years to as recent as only weeks before the May 2 raid, also show that Bin Laden “was in direct or indirect communication with Nigerian-based militant group Boko Haram as well as many other militant outfits,” the newspaper reported.

Boko Haram has been responsible for a series of suicide attacks and bombings in the last year within Nigeria and the documents also show that the leaders of the group had been in contact with top levels of al-Qaeda in the past 18 months.

(Written by Eman El-Shenawi)