7 surprising things we learnt from Bin Laden's 'treasure trove'

From recruitment letters to personal notes to his family, OBL documents reveal a hidden side of the al Qaeda chief

Web Desk May 21, 2015
Osama Bin Laden. PHOTO: FILE

Osama bin Laden took over headlines once again as US intelligence officials released more than 100 letters and documents seized during the raid at the al Qaeda leader's Abbottabad hideout in 2011 that killed him.

The trove of documents and letters reveal bin Laden’s correspondence with his family, his preoccupation with launching attacks against the west and fear of surveillance among other things.

Read: Bin Laden was bent on spectacular US attack until the end: files

From Naom Chomsky’s books to letters to his wife, his son’s wedding and climate change, the letters show bin Laden as never seen before -- a man with love and interest in his family. While some letters portrayed him unlike a militant, other documents revealed his plans to execute deadly attacks on Americans.

Here at The Express Tribune we collected seven documents and letters that reveal a side to the former world's most wanted terrorist that one could have not imagined if the letters were kept secret.


1) ‘Apple of my eye’ – final wishes to his wife

Not just a hardcore militant, in a letter written to one of his wives dated August 15, 2008 bin Laden calls his wife the ‘apple of my eye’ while conveying his final wishes to her.

“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,” the letter reads.

Assuming the role of a good father, he asks his wife to take good care of his children and raise them ‘properly.’

“If I get killed, and you want to return to your family, then that is okay, but you have to raise my children properly, and to watch them, and be careful of bad company for them.”

The complete letter can be viewed here.


2) Al Qaeda job application form

Ever thought you’d need to fill a form to be recruited in the militant organisation? Well, yes. An al Qaeda job application form discovered is chilling in its choice of questions.

The job application questioned hopeful recruits on their career history, foreign language skills and requested emergency contact numbers should they take part in a suicide mission.

The form, translated by the CIA, begins, “Please enter the required information accurately and truthfully. Write clearly and legibly. Name, age, marital status.”

But the form quickly moves to a darker place questioning, “Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?”

“Who should we contact in case you become a martyr?” it further asks.

The application letter can be viewed below:

Read: Declassified documents: Osama planned 9/11 anniversary media push


3) Bookshelf: Beginner’s guide to Islam

Giving an interesting glimpse into bin Laden’s mind, his massive digital library showed he was an avid reader.

Among the books seized during the raid, there was A Brief Illustrated Guide To Islam, according to Express.co.uk.

The book written by author IA Ibrahim promises to be "a key eye-opener to all of us to open our minds and hearts to the Book of Allah".

From Noam Chomsky, a vocal critic of American foreign policy to Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward’s critical account of US troop surge in Afghanistan in 2009, bin Laden’s bookshelf consisted of an interesting range of books.

Strangely, one of the books in bin Laden's digital library was a suicide prevention manual while another asserted 9/11 was an "inside job."

There were also books about the Illuminati and the Freemasons.

Owing to no internet access due to security concerns books or reports for bin Laden's were assembled by making PDFs of each page. They were then put on to a thumb drive and delivered to bin Laden by one of his two bodyguards, according to US intelligence officials.


4) "What is the latest funny news?” he asks his daughter

A family man showing great love for his children, bin Laden worried about his four wives, 20 children and other relatives, according to The Guardian.

“By God, I miss you so much,” he writes in an undated letter to his daughter Umm Muadh. He asks how her son is progressing with his studies of the Quran and other school subjects.

“What is the latest funny news?” he wrote, asking her to “forgive me if I made you mad — and perhaps for having done so frequently.”

Another letter addressed to a sister is dated April 26, 2011, six days before he was killed. “Please transfer my greetings to all my beloved daughters,” he wrote, adding, “Please destroy this message after reading it.”

Read: Bin Laden was grooming son as heir to al Qaeda's throne


5) Pornography

A ‘fairly extensive’ stash of pornography was found in bin Laden’s hideout.

The pornography recovered in bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive, according to the officials, who discussed the discovery with Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The officials said they were not yet sure precisely where in the compound the pornography was discovered or who had been viewing it. Specifically, the officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.


6) It was time to leave Pakistan

Months before al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found and killed by the CIA, he wrote that it might be time for him to leave the city of Abottabad.

“I think that I have to leave them,” bin Laden wrote, referring to the two Pakistani brothers who sheltered him and served as his primary connections to the outside world.

“But it will take a few months to arrange another place,” bin Laden said, a location where his third wife, Khairiyah, his son Hamza and other family members “can join us.”

About six months later, in May 2011, Navy SEALs came to the compound and killed bin Laden and his caretakers. His wife, Khairiyah, whom he addressed in the letter was also captured and handed over to Pakistani authorities.


7) WikiLeaks disclosures could benefit al Qaeda

Bin Laden also wrote to his ‘brothers’ about the leaked WikiLeaks documents. In his correspondence, he said that the leaked documents from the Pentagon contain possible strategies that the al Qaeda could benefit from.

“Please dedicate some brothers to translate the documents on Afghanistan and Pakistan that were leaked from the Pentagon because these documents contain the strategy of the enemy in the area. The US secretary of defense stated that the leak of these documents will negatively affect the war. The website that published these documents revealed 92,000 documents and then another 15,000.”


OpenYourEyes | 6 years ago | Reply @numbersnumbers: I request you to for once open your eyes and see the truth, O misinformed Indian. I'll help you on your journey to truth and honesty - Our most knowledgeable and patriotic DG-ISI Janab Hamid Gul has reasserted yesterday on TV that the entire Abbottabad drama was purely to besmirch Pakistan's pious name. He knows the truth behind all propaganda against our beloved bastion of Islam. All his predictions and clues about our adversaries like RAW etc. have always come true. He clearly laid out the discrepancies in the Abbottabad story and exposed the plot in clinical detail. If you can convincingly refute or counter even one of his exposes I'll recommend your comment, otherwise I need not tell you who is 'deluded' and 'in denial'. Peace
numbersnumbers | 6 years ago | Reply @Ninja: Wow, more delusion and denial about OBL's terror network, without any credible supporting references as usual!
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