Sunday 25 February 2018

Bin Laden left $29m in will 'for jihad and the sake of Allah'

Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden

Colin Freeman in London

Osama bin Laden left more than $29m in his will so his followers could carry on his grand jihadist schemes against the West, newly declassified documents show.

In a handwritten will that reveals anxieties about both his personal security and his long-term legacy, the late al-Qaeda leader said he had around $29m in personal wealth to be used "on jihad, for the sake of Allah".

The will 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.

It also shows the al-Qa'ida 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 CIA 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-Qa'ida kidnappers and on unwitting journalists who came to interview al-Qaeda's high command.

The will was released yesterday 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 on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and its Iraq operation all but quelled by the US troop surge in Baghdad.

Ideologically, al-Qa'ida was also struggling to find a response to the Arab Spring protests that were 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 Qa'ida's Yemen branch.

In another letter, addressed to 'The Islamic Community in General', bin Laden writes: "Here we are in the 10th 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 said the documents showed 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."

Even as al Qa'ida 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 US financial collapse.

And in a hand-written note, he laid out how he wanted his close relatives to use the funds to support holy war, and asked that his father take care of his wife and children in the event he died first.

Irish Independent

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