So much for those “he’s just a figurehead” reports we’ve seen over and over for the last 10 years.

(Washington Times) — The covert operation that killed Osama bin Laden produced new evidence that the “emir” of al Qaeda actively commanded the terror group’s affiliates inYemen, Somalia and other parts of North Africa and was not just an inspirational leader.

Materials found in bin Laden’s compound include hard drives, thumb drives and a dedicated fiber-optic cable used for point-to-point access to the Internet, according to two U.S. officials who read initial after-action reports on the raid.

The commandos who carried out the raid also found equipment for use with a multimedia studio where the al Qaeda leader likely recorded some of the audio and video messages he periodically made public over the past nine years as well as compact discs and paper documents, according to these officials.

The officials said investigators already uncovered new leads on the location of other senior al Qaeda leaders, including Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian-born deputy to bin Laden who is the likely successor over al Qaeda.

The CIA has not begun a formal exploitation of the documents and other material found in the raid, but more details are emerging on one of the most successful counterterrorism operations in U.S. history.

One U.S. intelligence official who asked not to be named said “a peripheral scan of the data suggests that he provided strategic guidance and direction to al Qaeda’s affiliates. We knew he had contact with the affiliates through couriers, but the evidence we have now is that he delivered the strategic direction to many of these groups.”

U.S. intelligence analysts for at least two years have said bin Laden exercised strategic control over al Qaeda and its affiliates. As with most intelligence work, however, there were uncertainties.

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