A little over 4 years from the May 2, 2011 death of Osama Bin Laden, the U. S. government has declassified 103 of the documents and videos retrieved from his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The documents/videos are only a portion of the seized materials, some of which are still being reviewed and considered for declassification.
The materials reveal an isolated individual of lessening power who was beset with nearly-corporate commonplace problems of recruitment, infighting, communication breakdowns and the subpar performance of underlings.
While most of the translated material is conveyed in flowery language, the ultimate mission is clear: killing Americans, Europeans and Jews, all in the name of God. Bin Laden refers to America as the trunk of “the obnoxious tree” on which al-Qaida affiliates must concentrate, rather than fighting local North African security forces or fighting among themselves.
One of the most interesting documents is “Instructions to Applicants.” If you’ve ever wondered how Bin Laden and his ilk recruit fanatics, read this fill-in-the-blank form. You will be surprised by its close resemblance to a run-of-the-mill job application. The document asks the usual HR questions about education, languages, hobbies and pastimes. It also asks whether the applicant wishes to “execute a suicide operation” and person(s) to contact in case of the applicant’s martyrdom.
Another document, “Report on External Operations,” gives subordinates’ excuses for failing to kill as many people as they’d hoped. The first justification for unmet goals is “bad luck and God wasn’t on our side,” which can certainly cramp your killing style. In addition, the report cited problems with communications, transportation, weapons and lack of trained personnel. Don’t even get the subordinates started on the problems they had ducking security forces. The “humans-with-a-wicked-twist” aspect of Bin Laden’s materials makes them uniquely thought-provoking but no less dangerous.
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