Back in May 2011, U.S. Navy Seals invaded Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, killed him, and made off with not just his body, but a whole lot of documentation. A few years later some of that info is being declassified.
The 86 document tranche that was released by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence this week includes a collection of letters to family members, writings on the goings on in the middle east, plans for destruction of western targets, thoughts on western countries, jubilant musings on the Arab Spring and what many news outlets and the like are calling “Al Qaeda job applications.” The most fascinating question on the applications?
“Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?”
Yes, as one Fox News talking head put it, Al Qaeda needs an emergency contact information just in case the recruit blew him or herself up.
The correspondence itself shows bin Laden continued to be engaged from his hideout and sought to direct operations. Shortly before he was killed in the May 2011 raid, a letter shows him celebrating the Arab Spring revolutions which had toppled Tunisia’s leader at that point and were mounting in several other countries.
“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,” bin Laden wrote, according to a translated version.
Aside from the entertainment value of Al Qaeda job applications and the discovery that family was important to Bin Laden along with a vendetta against the United States and the sheer desire to see things blown up on this side of the pond, one of the more interesting questions on why release this information now is starting to be asked by people on Capitol Hill and members of the media. Only the director of national intelligence knows for sure, but this information seems to be innocuous enough that its release merely keeps the matter top of mind.
However, according to Steven Hayes at the Weekly Standard, there are still over a million documents yet to be released.
The release comes despite strong objections from the leadership of the CIA and many in the Obama administration. It was forced by Congress, which included the requirement to declassify and make public the bin Laden documents in its most recent intelligence authorization.
But Hayes is right about something else, Bin Laden’s library and reading list is fascinating. Bob Woodward, Noam Chomsky, Foreign Policy, American news serials, etc. What is not included in the tranche, Hayes says his sources tell him, is the REALLY interesting stuff like Bin Laden’s relationship with Iran, intelligence information, and writings about the Taliban.