Notorious terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was bullish on gold, telling Al Qaeda leaders in a 2010 letter to invest in the precious metal while “overall price trend is upward,” The New York Times reported this week.
The letter was part of a trove of documents released by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence last month. In it, bin Laden implores Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Al Qaeda’s general manager, to earmark $1.7 million of a $5 million ransom for gold bars and coins.
Bin Laden also advocated buying euros, Kuwaiti dinars, and yuan. He outlined specific instructions on how to spend the money.
“As for the money you received in local currency, it should be gotten rid of, because its value has been declining and it continues to go down,” bin Laden wrote. He then details how much of the ransom money should go to various currencies and notes that al-Rahman should “use the euros first, then the dinars, the yuan and then the gold.”
He then goes on to analyse the outlook on gold.
“The overall price trend is upward,” bin Laden wrote. “Even with occasional drops, in the next few years the price of gold will reach $3,000 an ounce. Right now it is at $1,390 an ounce, but before the events in New York and Washington it was $280 an ounce.”
The Times noted that this would have been a “bad bet” because on the day the letter was dated, December 3, 2010, gold closed at $1,414.08 an ounce. Today, gold is at about $1,230 an ounce.
It’s unclear whether al-Rahman followed bin Laden’s instructions in this case, according to The Times.
Bin Laden wasn’t alone in his assessment of gold’s potential. The Times noted:
Bin Laden may have lacked investing acumen — gold peaked at $1,900 an ounce five months after his death in 2011 — but he seems to have had a keen sense of the financial zeitgeist. His belief in gold’s bright future was shared at the time by many Americans and a number of financial luminaries, including George Soros and John Paulson, both of whom were investing heavily in the precious metal. Demand was so high that in 2010, JPMorgan Chase reopened a long-closed vault used to store gold under the streets of downtown Manhattan.