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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, November 23, 2017

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Six years after his death, CIA releases Bin Laden documents

The documents released to the public

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Six years after the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed off in a raid that is still noted as mysterious by conspiracy theorists - the CIA has now released the last batch of documents.

These documents reports noted were recovered from the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan after the notorious al-Qaeda leader was killed in the U.S. raid.

The documents released to the public provide new insight into the man who spent over a decade as the world’s most wanted terrorist mastermind.

It also provides an insight into the network and global leadership of al-Qaeda, which, even after its founder’s death, remains one of America’s top terrorism threats.

The documents, audio, video and text, include personal photographs of his family and a journal penned by the terror mastermind himself.

The Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a think tank that was instrumental in pushing the U.S. government to release the files, conducted an analysis of the hundreds of thousands of documents and revealed that the trove includes new information about al Qaeda's relationship with Iran.

It also includes a document purportedly written by a senior member of al Qaeda detailing an arrangement between Iran and members of al Qaeda to strike American interests in "Saudi Arabia and the Gulf." 

According to the document and the subsequent analysis, in exchange, Iran offered al Qaeda "money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon."

Reports noted that the author of the file, described as "well-connected," explains that al Qaeda's forces violated the terms of the agreement of the deal with Iran, resulting in several men being detained.

However, the senior al Qaeda member also noted in the document that the organization is not at war with Iran due to their shared anti-American interests.

Analysts have pointed out that one of the most notable releases is a 228-page handwritten journal kept by Osama bin Laden himself.

FDD has said that the journal contains "thoughts on the 2011 Arab uprisings, which bin Laden wanted his men to capitalize on.”

Apart from that, the released documents also contains video scenes from the wedding of Hamza bin Laden, Osama's eldest son, whom al Qaeda is said to be currently grooming for a leadership role.

The wedding, FDD believes took place in Iran, where Hamza spent years in a form of house arrest.

A recent report from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point called the younger bin Laden, who is in his early 30s, “Al-Qaeda’s leader in waiting.”

Jonathan Schanzer, the FDD’s senior vice president for research said, “This is an important moment for the American public in terms of getting a better understanding of al-Qaeda, which continues to threaten the United States, and also to learn more about the man who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. And this is an important step for transparency.”

According to officials, more than a million documents were recovered from bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan by the U.S. Navy SEALs who carried out the raid. 

Before today, only a small fraction or around 600, had been released to the public.

For months now, lawmakers on Capitol Hill had been pushing for the full release of the CIA's documents from the raid. 

FDD too has long pressed the U.S. government to release the full cache, arguing that they will increase the public understanding of the terror group as well as keep U.S. assessments of it in check.

In March this year, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said the release of the documents was essential.

Nunes had said then, "Those documents need to get out, especially as you see the growth of al Qaeda and ISIS. Those documents need to get out for historians to have those records so that we can begin to build a history of what al Qaeda was, what it is today, what they were thinking at the time."

U.S. officials have said that they will not release the purported stash of pornography that U.S. troops were reported to have recovered from the compound.

In September, Mike Pompeo, the CIA’s director, said that many more of the files would soon be declassified.

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