The declassification of documents retrieved from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound has given an unprecedented closer look at one of the most dreaded terrorists of our time.
US intelligence agencies have declassified more than 100 documents found by the US Navy Seals during their 2011 raid on bin Laden’s house in Pakistan.
Here are a few things we learnt about him and his terror group from the documents:
1) There was an application form for jihad
Would you wish to execute a suicide operation?
Who should we reach out to in case you become a martyr?
These are just some of the questions that would-be jihadists had to answer in an application form that Osama asked each applicant to fill out. Other questions include: 'Have you received military training?', and 'Do you have any chronic or hereditary diseases?'
2) Bin Laden was grooming his 'favourite' son to take over
Bin Laden’s correspondence includes letters exchanged with a 22-year-old aspiring jihadist who is anxious to joint the fight.
The young man is his favourite son, Hamza, and the letters indicate that bin Laden was grooming Hamza as his successor. A letter from Hamza’s mother includes a prayer that he follow in “his father's footsteps”.
3) What was in Osama’s library
He read the highly intellectual works of Noam Chomsky and Bob Woodward, but Osama bin Laden’s personal library also contained an extensive collection of porn videos. Bin Laden’s library included Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance and Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, as well as Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward.
US officials said the pornographic material could not be made public, on grounds of taste.
4) Al Qaeda called 26/11 attack ‘heroic’, German Bakery blast ‘beautiful’
A chilling 15-page document, titled Terror Franchise: the unstoppable assassin: tech's vital role for its success, reveals how a top Al Qaeda leader, Abu-Salih al Somali, boasted about the deadly terror attack in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people, as well as the German bakery blast in Pune that had claimed 17 lives.
“The heroic suicide operations in Bombay... in which several western targets were struck in which many Americans and other westerners were killed”.
“Following that,” he went on, “was the beautiful huge bombing -- also in India -- of the western German Bakery mainly visited by Jews and western nationals in general”, the terrorist wrote.
5) He gave his wife permission to re-marry
The following is excerpted from a letter written by bin Laden to one of his wives:
“As for you, you are the apple of my eye, and the most precious thing that I have in this world. If you want to marry after me, I have no objection, but I really want for you to be my wife in paradise, and the woman, if she marries two men, is given a choice on Judgment Day to be with one of them.”
6) His chief objective was to kill Americans
In a letter addressed to an Al Qaeda commander, bin Laden urges his fighters not to become “distracted” by battling local security forces but to instead focus on “breaking the power of our main enemy”.
His letters make it quite clear that that the enemy is America, and that Al Qaeda’s primary objective would be to kill as many Americans as possible.
He suggests that Al Qaeda affiliates plan attacks on US embassies and consulates in the region.
7) He was paranoid about being “bugged”
Bin Laden lived in constant fear of surveillance. One particular concern was a western spy inserting a microscopic recording device into his wife’s clothing while she was living in Iran.
In one letter bin Laden writes, “Before um Hamza arrives here, it is necessary for her to leave everything behind, including clothes, books, everything she had in Iran.... Everything a needle might possibly penetrate.”
He was also fearful of US drones, and of a member of his household being followed.