Bin Laden's will shows that he left €25m for global jihad - and worried about CIA tracker chips in his wife's teeth
Declassified documents show the al-Qaeda leader was also still planning grand terror schemes
Published 02/03/2016 | 09:02
Osama bin Laden left more than €25 million in his will so that his followers could carry on his grand jihadist schemes against the West, newly declassified documents show.
In a series of missives that reveals anxieties about both his personal security and his long term legacy , the late al-Qaeda leader said he had around €26m in personal wealth to be used "on jihad, for the sake of Allah."
His last will and testament is part of a file released by US officials from a cache of documents seized during the raid that killed bin Laden at his secret compound in Pakistan five years ago.
The file also shows the al-Qaeda leader's increasingly anxious state of mind as the world's intelligence agencies closed in on him.
In one missive, he frets over a visit by one of his many wives to a dentist in neighbouring Iran, fearing that a tracking chip could have been hidden in one of her fillings.
And in others, he warns comrades to be wary of tracking devices planted in ransom payments to al-Qaeda kidnappers and on unwitting journalists who came to interview al-Qaeda's high command.
The will was released on Tuesday as part of a batch of more than 100 declassified documents taken during the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s hideout in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.
At the time, his organisation was in its worst shape since 9-11, with its leadership being hammered by US drone strikes Afghanistan and Pakistan, and its Iraq operation all but quelled by the US troop surge in Baghdad.
Ideologically, al-Qaeda was also struggling to find a response to the Arab Spring protests that were already toppling regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Yet the documents show that bin Laden, despite being an effective prisoner in his own home, still saw himself as a terrorist mastermind, urging new and grandiose attacks on a West that he thought was close to collapse.
"We need to extend and develop our operations in America and not keep it limited to blowing up airplanes," says a letter, apparently written by bin Laden, to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, head of al Qaeda's Yemen branch, which masterminded the failed "Underpants Bombing" in December 2010.
In another letter, addressed to "The Islamic Community in General," bin Laden writes: "Here we are in the tenth year of the war, and America and its allies are still chasing a mirage, lost at sea without a beach."
"They thought that the war would be easy and that they would accomplish their objectives in a few days or a few weeks, and they did not prepare for it financially, and there is no popular support that would enable it to carry on a war for a decade or more."
One senior US intelligence official told the Reuters news agency that the documents showed that bin Laden "was still sort of thinking in very kind of grand schemes, and still ... trying to reclaim that 9/11 'victory'. But he was "somewhat out of touch with the (actual) capabilities of his organisation."
In one communique, written under the pseudonym Abu Abdallah, he expresses alarm over his wife's visit to a dentist while in Iran, worrying that a tracking chip could have been implanted with her dental filling.
"The size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli," he wrote, showing an unexpected knowledge of a particularly thin type of spaghetti.
The letter ended with the instruction: "Please destroy this letter after reading it."
In a May 11, 2010 letter to his then second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, he urges caution over the group arranging access for al Jazeera journalist Ahmad Zaidan, asserting that the United States could be tracking his movements through devices implanted in his equipment, or by satellite.
"You must keep in mind the possibility, however, slight, that journalists can be under surveillance that neither we nor they can perceive, either on the ground or via satellite," he wrote.
In another document, bin Laden issues instructions to an al-Qaeda cell holding an Afghan hostage to beware tracking technology attached to the ransom cash.
"It is important to get rid of the suitcase in which the funds are delivered, due to the possibility of it having a tracking chip in it," he advises.
He also says the kidnap negotiators should not leave their rented house in the Pakistani city of Peshawar "except on a cloudy overcast day" - an apparent reference to it being harder for drones to track them in poor visibility.
Another missive in bin Laden's possession acknowledges that al Qaeda executed four would-be volunteers on suspicion of spying, only to discover they were probably innocent.
"I did not mention this to justify what has happened," wrotes the letter's unidentified author, adding, "we are in an intelligence battle and humans are humans and no one is infallible."
Even as al Qaeda came under growing pressure, bin Laden and his aides planned a media campaign to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the documents show. They plotted diplomatic strategy and opined on climate change and the U.S. financial collapse.
In a undated letter "To the American people," the al Qaeda chief chides Obama for failing to end the war in Afghanistan; and accurately predicts that the U.S. president's plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would fail.
One hand-written note, believed to have been written in the late 1990s, laid out how he wanted to distribute about $29 million to followers in Sudan, where he lived as a guest of the then-Islamic fundamentalist government until Washington pressured Khartoum to kick him and his followers out.
One percent of the €26 million, bin Laden wrote, should go to Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, a senior al Qaeda militant who used the nom de guerre Abu Hafs al Mauritani.
Another one percent of the sum should be given to a second associate, Engineer Abu Ibrahim al-Iraqi Sa'ad, for helping set up bin Laden's first company in Sudan, Wadi al-Aqiq Co., the document said.
Bin Laden also urged his close relatives to use the rest of the funds to support holy war, and asked that his father take care of his wife and children in the event he died first.
In a letter dated August 15, 2008, he asked that his father took care of his wife and children in the event that he died first. In one whistful paragraph, he also asks his father for forgiveness "if I have done what you did not like."
In February 2011, bin Laden also hailed the uprising in Libya against Colonel Gaddafi, who had long taken a firm line with jihadists in order to curry favour with the West.
In flamboyant and jubilant language, he says: "Praise God, who made al-Qa'ida a great vexation upon him, squatting on his chest, enraging and embittering him, and who made al-Qa'ida a torment and exemplary punishment upon him, this truly vile hallucinating individual who troubles us in front of the world!"
As it turned out, bin Laden would not live to see Gaddafi's demise. The Libyan leader was killed by rebel militiamen in October that year - some five months after bin Laden's body had been given a burial at sea in the Indian Ocean.