The US Central Intelligence Agency has released yet more files seized during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, revealing details about the al-Qaeda leader in his final hideout in Pakistan's Abbottabad.
"Today's release of recovered al-Qaeda letters, videos, audio files and other materials provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans and workings of this terrorist organisation. CIA will continue to seek opportunities to share information with the American people consistent with our obligation to protect national security," said Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo.
The release contains 17,000 documents, 79,000 audio and image files and 10,000 video files, dragging the total number available to almost 470,000. Perhaps predictably, among the video files are torture, execution and beheading videos, jihadist propaganda and practice reels for public speeches — but surprisingly, among the clips were several children's cartoons, such as Tom & Jerry and Wallace and Gromit, and British comedy staple Mr. Bean (dubbed in the local Pashtu language).
Moreover, there were Hollywood films, pornography, and a series of documentaries about the terrorist leader himself — including "CNN Presents: World's Most Wanted" and "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" — and home movies, including a wedding video of bin Laden's son, Hamza. Hamza is now in his 20s, although his exact whereabouts are unknown.
Other unexpected choices included a number of crochet tutorials (including one video titled How to Crochet a Basket), cat videos and YouTube sensation Charlie Bit My Finger.
A journal also released by the security agency confirms bin Laden came to the UK twice as a teenager validating suspicions he'd visited the West.
"I got the impression they were a loose people, and my age didn't allow me to form a complete picture of life there. We went every Sunday to visit Shakespeare's house. I was not impressed and I saw they were a society different from ours and that they were a morally loose society," Bin Laden wrote.
DCIA Pompeo authorized release in the interest of transparency & to enhance public understanding of al-Qa‘ida & UBL.https://t.co/U18iNXS04j— CIA (@CIA) November 1, 2017
Other entries indicate bin Laden remained active in al-Qaeda, despite some reports claiming the group forced him to retire. The files also show that bin Laden and those close to him were fascinated by how Western media depicted him.
From May 2015 — January 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published details of the contents of bin Laden's compound bookshelf, which included Noam Chomsky's seminal Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, The Oxford History of Modern War by Charles Townsend (an examination of every conflict since the 14th century), Obama's Wars by famed Watergate journalist Bob Woodward (which analyzed the former President's wartime decision-making), A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam by I. A. Ibrahim, and New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin, one of the most prominent 9/11 conspiracy tomes.
Also found in the compound were al-Qaeda application forms, asking questions including whether the applicant would be willing to do a suicide mission and whom al-Qaeda should contact if the applicant became a martyr.