For years, Saudi Arabian-born Osama Bin Laden was the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitive. Bin Laden is believed to help orchestrate many different terrorist attacks around the world, including the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Not much was known by the public about Bin Laden’s personal life, especially since he was killed by US forces on May 2, 2011.
The CIA the investigated Bin Laden’s personal belongings, including his computer, while many waited for the files to be revealed. Now, we know what Bin Laden was storing on his personal computer, with tens of thousands of documents, videos and audio files that pertained to terroristic planning alone. It was known that Bin Laden had a so named Hamza, but the public had only seen home videos of Hamza as a child before the release.
Videos of an adult Hamza were found on the computer, featuring a video of his wedding. The video is believed to have been filmed in Iran. As for many of the other files on the computer, not many could be released since they had become corrupted data, while many even included pornography. It’s been a glimpse into the mysterious personal life of the man responsible for many deaths across the world.
Some videos showed children being taught how to shoot an assault weapon, while some were simply children playing. It also turned out that Bin Laden was a big fan of viral videos and American films, with many backed up on his computer. Films such as “Cars” and “Resident Evil” were found on the computer, as well as documentaries about Bin Laden and other terrorists…and even YouTube videos like “Charlie Bit My Finger” and crocheting instructional videos.
Bin Laden also did some video game playing, and certainly had an interesting game collection. From puzzle games such as “Zuma Deluxe” to shooters such as “Sniper Elite”, what really surprised some was that Bin Laden had several bootleg Japanese pornographic games. CIA Director Mike Pompeo had warned that not all of the files would be released since they didn’t want to share some of the adult material or copyright restricted material, but did share the names of the certain files without making them publicly available.
The release of the files comes after a Freedom of Information Act request, though it took some time for the CIA to work through all of the files to make sure nothing too sensitive was made public. “Once we are sure that there’s not classified material and that there’s not things that we can’t release, I want to make sure the world gets to see them so that we can have lots of hands touching them and making good judgments about how to make sure that we don’t have a 9/11, that we don’t have this kind of risk again,” he said before the release.
After sharing the files with the public, Pompeo said he hoped that the release “provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans and workings of this terrorist organization.” He added that the “CIA will continue to seek opportunities to share information with the American people consistent with our obligation to protect national security.”
Other files that were part of the release, according to the CIA, include Al Qaeda’s “preparations to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 911 and the group’s attempts to promulgate its message through Western media.” There was also the group’s “efforts to exploit the Arab Awakening for its benefit and that of the global jihad” and “efforts to rehabilitate its tarnished image among Muslims due to its mistakes and negative media portrayals.” There was also Bin Laden’s “efforts to maintain unity within (Al Qaeda) and among its affiliates, despite disagreements over tactics and doctrine.”
Some had believed that Bin Laden didn’t use the internet when he was at the Pakistani compound where he was killed. The massive file release suggests that might not have been the case. Even if his personal computer wasn’t used for the internet, he was certainly privy as to how the internet worked and how it could be used to spread his message. It’s very similar to the way that ISIS has used social media to recruit potential members.