Documents found in Osama bin Laden raid to be released
A SELECTION of more than 6,000 al-Qaeda files seized during the US Navy Seal raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound is to be made public later today.
The cache, described as a “treasure trove” of material by US officials, was extracted from five computers, dozens of hard drives and more than 100 external data storage devices found in bin Laden’s hideaway.
Seventeen of these documents are to be released at 2pm GMT on the website of the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), an independent research institution at the US military academy in West Point, New York. They will be published in Arabic and English.
The CTC has said it will follow the release with a report “contextualising” the documents with an overview of the most salient themes.
It is expected to be the single largest collection of terror material obtained at a senior level.
The material includes audio, video and digital files, as well as handwritten papers, printed material and recording devices, US officials have said, however videos will not be published in today’s release.
It is not known whether more of the material will be made public at a later date.
Peter Bergen, a terrorism analyst, said information about the 10-year search for bin Laden’s lair would probably be included in the release.
Mr Bergen was given access to some of the files for a book about the hunt, including letters bin Laden had written to al Qaeda leaders and other terror heads.
Intelligence and counter-terrorist analysts have spent months studying the documents, looking for clues about the inside workings of al-Qaeda and possible future targets.
“[The files] gave us much more of an insight into the strategic agenda and intent and his [Osama bin Laden's] desire and efforts to still maintain contact with the affiliates," an anonymous intelligence official was reported as saying last week.
"It provided us some tremendous insights on al-Qaida's strategy and the personalities that are likely to remain useful for years to come, much like we find with debriefing and other pieces of information we gather," the official added. "These are, again, all things that we can continually go back to reference to put, again, pieces of that puzzle together."