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Caleb Carr

Bin Laden realized the truth: Terrorism doesn't work

Bin Laden realized the truth: Terrorism doesn't work

Five weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden publicly commanded his foot-soldiers to ramp up the violence against American civilians. But five weeks before his death, he privately instructed his lieutenants to refrain from killing any civilians. Did the world's most notorious terrorist have a moral awakening and grow soft? Hardly. His unheralded tactical shift was purely strategic.

This month, the Combating Terrorism Center at the West Point Military Academy released 17 declassified documents that were seized from bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in the targeted killing last year. These documents, coupled with his post-Sept. 11 admissions to the media, portray...