© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance Picked To Be Trump's Running Mate

U.S. Releases Documents Seized From Osama Bin Laden's Compound

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, seen in Afghanistan in this undated photo, was killed in 2011 during a U.S. raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, seen in Afghanistan in this undated photo, was killed in 2011 during a U.S. raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET

Intelligence officials on Wednesday released a trove of newly declassified documents, books and magazines found during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. They're calling it "Bin Laden's Bookshelf."

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence says the release followed "a rigorous interagency review" and "aligns with the President's call for increased transparency."

The documents show that bin Laden, or those residing in the compound with him, had some eclectic tastes in reading material, with titles ranging from A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam, to Black Box Voting, Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century as well as Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward and Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., called the release "a step in the right direction." He added, "I look forward to the conclusion of the ongoing efforts to declassify the hundreds of remaining Abbottabad reports to meet congressional requirements."

Among the newly declassified documents are letters and messages from bin Laden. One is a letter addressed to someone named Atiyah in which he mentions the Arab Spring. Atiyah could refer to Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who the Washington Post says is "a Libyan who served as the terrorist network's top operational planner and was killed in a 2011 drone strike."

"To Shaykh ((Mahmud)), I am sure that you are following up on the news media on the events taking place; the downfall of the Tunisian tyrant, the revolutions taking place in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Oman, and the protest marches in Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon.

"These are gigantic events that will eventually engulf most of the Muslim world, will free the Muslim land from American hegemony, and is troubling America whose Secretary of State declared that they are worried about the armed Muslims controlling the Muslim region. We also note that Egypt is the most important country, and the fall of its regime will lead into the fall of the rest of the region's tyrants, and the existing international situation doesn't allow the West to support ((Mubarak)) and the West's position towards the Libyan revolution is a weak one. All of this indicates that the Western countries are weak and their international role is regressing."

One document, listed as "Instructions to Applicants" appears to be an al-Qaida job application, and is both comical and chilling:

"Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?..................... What objectives would you would like to accomplish on your jihad path?........................................................... What ideas and views do you, your family, and your other acquaintances have about jihad in Allah's sake here?............ Family members:..............Other acquaintances:............... Do you have any chronic or hereditary disease(s)?............... Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?.............. - Address:...................................................... - Phone numbers:................................................

"Praise Allah, Lord of all worlds"

Among the correspondence is a letter from Bin Laden to his wife:

"My beloved wife, Know that you do fill my heart with love, beautiful memories, and your long-suffering of tense situations in order to appease me and be kind to me, and every time I thought of you my eyes would tear for being away from you. I want you to know that I will not marry on you because I will not find a woman like you, and I will remain in the land of jihad until God will bring us together in this world to see you and enjoy looking at you and at my children, and to compensate you for the kindness and love you missed in prison, due to the tension and being occupied with the thought. Or if meeting in the world is not possible, then I will see you in the thereafter and that will suffice."

Another appears to be from a video message aimed at Americans:

"I begin by reminding you that if you had reflected on a little
of what has been said, you would have been able to avoid wasting
much blood and money.

"A good example is what one of your former presidents previously
warned you about with the despotism of the Big Money and about a day when you would become its laborers."

The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the letters discusses terror operations in Somalia and mentions an effort to kill the president of Uganda. "Please talk to the Somali brothers about reducing the harm to Muslims at Bakarah Market [in Mogadishu] as result of attacking the headquarters of the African forces," the 2010 letter reads, according to a translation by the U.S. government.

Also included in the release were articles from American newspapers and magazines, along with software and technical manuals and a number of materials relating to France.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.