Files reveal secret world of Bin Laden
Published 23/05/2015 | 02:30
The US government released hundreds of documents this week that were recovered from the compound in which Osama Bin Laden was killed.
Here is what we learned from them:
1. There was an application form for Jihad
Would-be-Jihadists were asked to fill out what at first appears to be a fairly standard application form, including prior experience and goals for the future.
But on this form the applicants must decide whether they "wish to execute a suicide operation". Instead of an emergency contact, they are asked who should be reached "in case you become a martyr".
Other questions include "have you received military training", and "do you have any chronic or hereditary diseases".
2. He was grooming his son as heir to the al-Qa'ida empire
Bin Laden's correspondence includes letters exchanged with a 22-year-old aspiring Jihadist who is anxious to join the fight.
The young man is his favourite son, Hamza, and the letters indicate Bin Laden is grooming Hamza as his successor.
A letter from Hamza's mother includes a prayer that he follow in "his father's footsteps".
3. He had been reading about English bishops
The list of Bin Laden's documents contains a curious entry: "Profiles of bishops in the Church of England".
The document itself was not made available, so it is unclear precisely what information it contains, and why Bin Laden would be interested in the Church hierarchy remains unknown.
4. He gave his wife permission to re-marry
The following is excerpted from a letter written by Bin Laden to one of his wives:
"As for you, you are the apple of my eye, and the most precious thing that I have in this world. If you want to marry after me, I have no objection, but I really want for you to be my wife in paradise, and the woman, if she marries two men, is given a choice on Judgment Day to be with one of them."
5. He had a taste for conspiracy theory
While much of his reading material was sober and academic, Bin Laden was apparently captivated by conspiracy theory.
He had a book on secret societies, as well as one called 'Bloodlines of the Illuminati' by Fritz Springmeier, an American conspiracy theorist and convicted felon, who has argued that satanic forces have aligned with global elites to create a new world order.
Also on his bookshelf was 'Secrets of the Federal Reserve' by Eustace Mullins, another American conspiracy theorist. Mullins was a white supremacist and Holocaust denier, who once served as secretary to the poet Ezra Pound.
Bin Laden also had a keen interest in conspiracy theories about 9/11 - the mass terrorist event for which he himself claimed responsibility.
He had copies of 'New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11' by David Ray Griffin, and a printout of an article containing further theories about the attack.
6. He was focused on France
Bin Laden had 19 documents about France in his possession, enough for the US government to create a separate sub-category.
7. His chief objective was to kill Americans
In a letter addressed to an al-Qa'ida commander, Bin Laden urges his fighters not to become "distracted" by battling local security forces but to instead focus on "breaking the power of our main enemy".
His letters make it quite clear that that enemy is America, and that al-Qa'ida's primary objective would be to kill as many Americans as possible.
He suggests that al-Qa'ida affiliates plan attacks on US embassies and consulates in the region.
8. He was paranoid about being "bugged"
Bin Laden lived in constant fear of surveillance.
One particular concern was a western spy inserting a microscopic recording device into his wife's clothing while she was living in Iran.
In one letter, Bin Laden writes: "Before um Hamza arrives here, it is necessary for her to leave everything behind, including clothes, books, everything she had in Iran.... Everything a needle might possibly penetrate."
He was also fearful of US drones, and of a member of his household being followed.
9. He called George Bush "this age's Pharaoh"
In a letter to the mujahideen, Bin Laden refers to George Bush as "a liar, a butcher, and killer" and "this age's pharaoh".
He says when Mr Bush declared "mission accomplished", he underestimated the "lions of the desert" who would rise up to oppose him.
Bin Laden also predicts that the 'War on Terror' would be a disaster for the US economy.
10. His pornography collection is classified
A spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence said that the details of Bin Laden's stash of pornography would not be released.
Reuters reported days after the 2011 raid that the pornography "consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive".
But Brian Hale, the spokesman, confirmed that the pornography collection was not going to be released, nor will the US put out a list of what was found.
"We have no plans to release that at this point in time," he said.
"Due to the nature of the content, the decision was made not to release it." (© Daily Telegraph, London)