Seventeen declassified documents obtained in the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden were published on Thursday by the Combating Terrorism centre (CTC).The 175 pages of electronic letters and drafts represent a small fraction of the 6,000 documents taken from bin Laden’s compound, but they do provide a glimpse into the mind of al-Qaeda’s founder and some of his confidants between September 2006 and April 2011.
We’ve gone through the cache and chose 10 items that shed light on the intentions and frustrations of bin Laden’s global jihad movement.
In a letter addressed to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi and most likely written by bin Laden or his close confidant Jamal Ibrahim Ishtiwi al-Misrati (i.e. Atiyya), the author(s) discuss media strategy:
'… a huge part of the battle is the media… If the cable channels concentrate on promoting a specific person, they will have success, and the opposite is correct. If those channels do not want that person to be successful, they will destroy him. This shows that we are at odds with most of the channels and al-Jazeera has a different agenda than ours. It would be better for us to stay neutral, even though this channel sometimes commits mistakes against us. These mistakes are limited, and if we confront it, al-Jazeera will raise propaganda against us and could hurt our image within the Muslim world.'
A October 2010 letter from bin Laden to Atiyya explains plans for the 10th anniversary of 9/11:
'Enclosed is a special chip for the media. It contains Statement to the American People... Tell the brothers that this statement should be broadcasted before the American congressional election. Also, a copy of the statement should be given to the correspondent of al-Jazirah- English. Also, another copy of it should be given to an American news agency.'
'We should also look for an American channel that can be close to being unbiased, such as CBS, or other channel that has political motives that make it interested in broadcasting the point of view of al- Mujaheddin. Then, we can send to the channel the material that we want the Americans to see.'
We already know how al-Qaeda's American spokesman Adam Gadahn felt about Fox News and Keith Olbermann, but here's what Gadahn said about Catholics:
'The conclusion is that, in general, the Catholics are a fertile ground for call of God and to persuade them about the just case of the Mujaheddin, particularly after the rage expanding against the mother church (Vatican) as a result of its scandals and policies refused by many of its public.'
bin Laden received a strong critique from a 'brother' in 2006 that seems to have heavily influenced al-Qaeda's strategy
In the same letter, the author(s) wrote:
'Creating a Muslim state, however, cannot happen overnight. We need to be realistic about so many factors... A revolutionary movement today needs more than just the military might to topple a government or control a country.'
'Our main goal, and yours, is to resurrect the religion of Islam, and to build a Caliphate-based state in every Muslim country. So, for now, we do not need to be diverted from our goal by going to war with the apostate regimes in the region. This is not the time for it.'
'Those requirements and suitable conditions will fall into place, however, only if America becomes weak... The Mujaheddin, then and only then, will be able to build a Muslim state and defend it. A state in which Muslims can live under the umbrella of a Caliphate-based authority.'
An unidentified author suggested a name change because the name al-Qaeda 'allows the enemies to claim deceptively that they are not at war with Islam and Muslims,' but instead are at war with 'a military base with fighters without a reference to our broader mission to unify the nation' of Islam.
The author's suggestions included:
Taifat al-tawhid wal-jihad (i.e. Monotheism and Jihad Group)
Jama‟at i‟adat al-khilafat al-rashida (i.e. Restoration of the Caliphate Group)
Jama‟at nasr al-Islam wal-aksa (i.e. Support of Islam and Al-Aqsa Group)
Jama‟at wihda al-Muslimin (i.e. Muslim Unity Group)
Hizb tawhid al-Umma al-Islamiya (i.e. Islamic Nation Unification Party)
Jama‟at tahrir al-aksa (i.e. Al-Aqsa Liberation Group)
Jama‟at inkath wanahdat al-Umma (i.e. Rescue and Revitalization of the Nation Group)
Bin Laden says the following in a letter to Atiyya (dated October 2010):
'The wise people would tell you to give people their rights in order to be able to focus on other vital issues such as global warming. They have the option to stop the war, but we do not have any option, except to defend our nation. This is a conflict between the biggest cultures in the world at a time when the climate is changing rapidly.'
'All talk about climate change and the catastrophes that were caused by it. After the Copenhagen conference, they stated that the main reason for these catastrophes is the sins… One of the main criticisms toward the brothers is that the brothers were saying that floods were caused by sin. The Prophet never told anyone that they are in pain or crisis because of their sins, but he did call on them to join Islam.'
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