Thanks to Jocelyn & Roggio, we now have a preliminary summary of the just-released documents that our Navy SEALS acquired when they took out Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad six years ago. Below are some of the tidbits.
The public can finally examine Osama bin Laden’s personal journal.
One of the newly-available files is a handwritten, 228-page journal kept by Osama bin Laden himself. The notebook contains the al Qaeda master’s private reflections on the world and al Qaeda’s place in it. Some of the pages contain bin Laden’s thoughts on the 2011 Arab uprisings, which bin Laden wanted his men to capitalize on. While al Qaeda did not predict the revolutions that swept through North Africa and the Middle East, it moved quickly to set up operations in countries such as Libya.
I suspect that he also communicated with al Nusra, which was affiliated with al Qaeda at the time, in Syria to rise against Assad.
Bin Laden was in charge of al Qaeda’s global network.
The Abbottabad repository confirms that bin Laden was anything but retired when US forces knocked down his door. 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.
This was why it was important to get bin Laden from the get-go. Also, let’s not forget that bin Laden was stashed away in the Pakistani equivalent of Colorado Springs or Norfolk, hiding in plain sight in a military town, and is another example of the double game that Pakistani officials were playing.
The files provide new details concerning al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran.
One never-before-seen 19-page document contains a senior jihadist’s assessment of the group’s relationship with Iran. The author explains that Iran offered some “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including “money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.” Iranian intelligence facilitated the travel of some operatives with visas, while sheltering others. Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, an influential ideologue prior to 9/11, helped negotiate a safe haven for his jihadi comrades inside Iran. But the author of the file, who is clearly well-connected, indicates that al Qaeda’s men violated the terms of the agreement and Iran eventually cracked down on the Sunni jihadists’ network, detaining some personnel. Still, the author explains that al Qaeda is not at war with Iran and some of their “interests intersect,” especially when it comes to being an “enemy of America.”
Bin Laden’s files show the two sides have had heated disagreements. There has been hostility between the two. Al Qaeda even penned a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei demanding the release of family members held in Iranian custody. Other files show that al Qaeda kidnapped an Iranian diplomat to exchange for its men and women. Bin Laden himself considered plans to counter Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East, which he viewed as pernicious.
However, bin Laden urged caution when it came to threatening Iran. In a previously released letter, bin Laden described Iran as al Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.” And despite their differences, Iran continued to provide crucial support for al Qaeda’s operations.
This basically confirms what we already knew, and it’s common sense. If Alabama is al Qaeda, Auburn is Iran, USC is the USA and UCLA Israel, then Auburn will be rooting for Alabama in a contest against USC, as well as calling for the destruction of UCLA, because Alabama and Auburn are in the SEC while USC and UCLA are in the Great Satan Pac-12.
Obama had this intelligence on the relationship between Iran and al Qaeda but still plowed ahead on the Iran nuclear agreement, and there were a lot of other things that Obama also let pass for the sake of a deal. Captain Ed has more.
This raises even more questions about Barack Obama’s deal with Iran over its nuclear-weapons program, and especially the release of $150 billion in assets to Tehran. By the time of the deal, the US had this information for almost five years. Bin Laden himself had written to his associates about the partnership with Iran being crucial to their operations. And yet Obama and John Kerry never made the ending of their state sponsorship of terrorism an explicit part of the agreement.
More from Jocelyn & Roggio.
The files are vital for understanding the history of the Iraqi insurgency and al Qaeda’s role in it.
Since bin Laden’s death, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State (ISIS) rose to prominence, becoming an international menace in its own right and al Qaeda’s main jihadi competitor. FDD’s Long War Journalhas reviewed dozens of audio files and other documents pertaining to the Iraqi insurgency. This valuable, primary source material provides new details on the history of al Qaeda’s efforts in the Iraq, ranging from Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s earliest days inside the country before the war, to the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and Baghdadi’s appointment as its chief.
The growth of the Islamic State came from a Syria in a growing civil war and an Iraq that Obama was eager to disengage from, leaving Maliki to his worser impulses.
An assessment of bin Laden’s support network in Pakistan will require careful analysis.
Many people will be interested in what the files have to say about bin Laden’s network inside Pakistan. He was, of course, hunted down in Abbottabad, near a Pakistani military academy. It is likely that the files contain new details concerning the personalities in Pakistan who supported al Qaeda in one way or another, including jihadists sponsored by the state. Parts of the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment have opposed al Qaeda and helped capture senior operatives. Al Qaeda has also helped direct an insurgency against Pakistani forces in the northern part of the country. Some of the files decry Pakistan’s supposed betrayal of the mujahideen after 9/11.
But Pakistan is a complex country, with multiple competing factions, and it is widely suspected that some in the military and intelligence apparatus were complicit in bin Laden’s operations. There may never be a “smoking gun,” but a meticulous review of the documents will likely shed light on previously unknown aspects of bin Laden’s Pakistani-based network.
As I learned after reading about the travails of Robin Raphel, Pakistan is a complex place where it’s tough to get good intel, but there is a certainly an element in the ISI that directly and tacitly supports al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Finally, let’s also not forget that Obama stonewalled the release of the bin Laden papers, which was his MO on any news that put him in a worse light.