Osama bin Laden was depressed because his Al Qaeda had been pounded by US forces and had developed a reputation in the Islamic world for killing Muslims. He, therefore, thought of “re-branding” the terror outfit.
“So damaged is Al Qaeda’s image that bin Laden even considered changing its name,” John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counter-terrorism, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“And one of the reasons? As bin Laden said himself, US officials ‘have largely stopped using the phrase ‘the war on terror’ in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims’,” Brennan said, according to political blog The Ticket.
The name Al Qaeda is Arabic for “the base”, and refers to the training bases fighters occupied while battling the Soviet army in Afghanistan.
Brennan’s information came from bin Laden’s documents, which were found at the compound in Pakistan’s Abbottabad city, where he was hiding when he was killed by US forces last year.
According to Brennan, Adam Gadahn, bin Laden’s US-born public relations chief, said Al Qaeda had become known as a group that “does not hesitate to take people’s money by falsehood, detonating mosques, spilling the blood of scores of people”.
Bin Laden himself said “a large portion” of Muslims around the world “have lost their trust” in the outfit.
The Al Qaeda chief was also worried that too many experienced leaders had been killed and that many “junior terrorists” were rising through the ranks, the daily said.