Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was slain by United States Navy SEAL commandos on May 2, 2011, at the Al Qaeda chief’s secret compound in Abbotobad, Pakistan, ending a reign of bloodshed that included some of the deadliest and most brazen terror attacks in history. But in the raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout, U.S. forces seized a massive stash of documents, videos, and audio recordings from the 9/11 mastermind’s personal computers.
On Wednesday, more than six years after bin Laden was killed, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for the first time released the entire collection of bin Laden’s personal files and made them accessible to anyone willing to download the files and take a disturbing but fascinating look inside the mind and daily activities of the man who for more than a decade ruled as the world’s most notorious and feared terrorist.
In addition to the September 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed New York City’s World Trade Center twin towers, damaged the Pentagon, and killed almost 3,000 people — including all passengers aboard four commercial airliners simultaneously hijacked by the Al Qaeda terrorists — bin Laden was believed to be behind the 1993 attack on U.S. troops in Somalia that killed 18 American soldiers, the twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed 224, and the suicide boat attack on the American warship USS Cole in 2000 that claimed the lives of 17 U.S. Navy sailors.
However, in addition to videos of Al Qaida terrorists beheading hostages and roadside explosive devices killing and injuring American troops, bin Laden’s personal video collection also contained many items of a more mundane nature — including such popular YouTube videos as “Charlie Bit My Finger,” “Girls Fight,” and “The Art of Crochet.”
Bin Laden also possessed bootleg copies of feature-length Hollywood films, including Antz and Resident Evil, as well as a large collection of classic Tom and Jerry cartoons.
The CIA warns on its website that members of the public should download the files with caution.
“The material in this file collection may contain content that is offensive and/or emotionally disturbing. This material may not be suitable for all ages,” the agency wrote on the site.
In addition to the cartoons and YouTube videos that bin Laden kept presumably for the entertainment of his large family as well as himself, the release of about 470,000 files also sheds light on some serious historical issues, including the previously murky nature of Al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran.
While the Sunni Muslims of Al Qaeda and the Iranian Shiite Muslims were widely believed to be at odds, the new files show that, in fact, Iran supported some elements of bin Laden’s terror organization with, the files say, “everything they needed… money, arms (and) training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf,” according to an analysis by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy’s Long War Journal, which had long lobbied for the release of the Osama bin Laden files.
According to the Long War Journal analysis, the files also show that bin Laden, despite spending his final years effectively a prisoner in his own compound, remained a hands-on leader of the Al Qaeda terror network.
“He was not a mere figurehead. During the final months of his life, Osama bin Laden was communicating with subordinates around the globe. Recovered memos discuss the various committees and lieutenants who helped bin Laden manage his sprawling empire of terror,” the Journal wrote in its report in the bin Laden file release.
To download the Osama bin Laden files, visit the CIA “November 2017 Release of Abbottabad Compound Material” page at this link. Scroll to the bottom of the page for warnings, instructions, and links to download the 321-gigabyte trove of video, audio, and text.
[Featured Image by Anonymous/AP Images]