The U.S. government is finally going to spill the beans on the secret writings of Osama bin Laden, according to The Washington Post's David Ignatius. The national security columnist says that a chunk of documents taken from the al Qaeda leader's hideout in Pakistan have been "declassified and will be available soon to the public in their original Arabic texts and translations." That's a titillating prospect considering that the vast majority of what we know about bin Laden's Abbottabad writings stem from guarded statements by anonymous officials. So what do we have to look forward to? Ignatius hinted at a few of the primary documents today but we can think of a few more that would be highly intriguing to see first-hand.
Osama's plot to kill Obama This was a total pipe dream but it was bin Laden's most sensational ambition so it's the focal point of Ignatius's story. While holed up in his compound, bin Laden wanted to assassinate President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus simultaneously while aboard a U.S. aircraft. If you remember, this plot was already leaked last May but Ignatius has a pretty funny quote to go along with it. “The reason for concentrating on them,” bin Laden told his top lieutenant, “is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make (Vice President Joe) Biden take over the presidency. … Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis." Alas, it was a mere fantasy, Ignatius notes, because al Qaeda "lacked the weapons" to take down U.S. aircraft.
Al Qaeda's disdain for Fox News Ignatius reveals a pretty hilarious discussion between two Al Qaeda operatives who are deliberating their media strategy for the release of an Al Qaeda video commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11. “It should be sent for example to ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and maybe PBS and VOA. As for Fox News let her die in her anger,” said U.S. born Al Qaeda operative Adam Gadahn. “From a professional point of view, they are all on one level — except (Fox News) channel, which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks objectivity, too.” A true badge of honor for Roger Ailes.
Al Qaeda's branding problems Bin Laden writes that Al Qaeda is taking a PR hit because Obama administration officials "have largely stopped using the phrase ‘the war on terror’ in the context of not wanting to provoke Muslims,” notes Ignatius. Instead, the administration cited a war against al Qaeda, which bin Laden said was hurting the group's appeal. As such, he proposed alternative names for the group including “Taifat al-tawhid wal-jihad,” or Monotheism and Jihad Group.
Osama's Diary? A big story from anonymous officials last year was the existence of Osama bin Laden's diary. Reports hinted at his micro-managerial style in dealings with couriers in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Algeria and Iraq. He also reportedly ridiculed his underlings, including the publishers of Inspire magazine for editorial judgements. Will we finally get to see the diary?
Plots to destroy U.S. cities As an ABC New report cited at the time, the documents reportedly explain plans to destroy U.S. cities.
"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the FBI and Department of Homeland Security bulletin reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."
Porn collection? Perhaps the most cited anonymous finding from bin Laden's lair, the porn collection. Reuters had the exclusive but we never heard another detail about it other than it exists. Will the government release the porn?!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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