WASHINGTON: The CIA on Wednesday released a vast archive of intimate Al-Qaeda documents, including Osama Bin-Laden’s handwritten diary, seized in the deadly 2011 raid on his Pakistani compound.
The huge trove includes images of diary pages left by the Saudi-born global extremist leader and a wedding video that includes the first public images of his son Hamza as an adult.
“Today’s release … provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans and workings of this terrorist organization,” said CIA director Mike Pompeo.
The CIA put online 470,000 additional files seized in May 2011 when US Navy SEALs burst into the Abbottabad compound and shot dead the leader of Al-Qaeda’s global extremist network.
AFP adds: According to Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, scholars from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who were allowed to see the trove before it was made public, it provides new insights.
“These documents will go a long way to help fill in some of the blanks we still have about al Qaeda’s leadership,” Roggio said.
The inclusion of Hamza Bin Laden’s wedding video, for example, gives the world public the first image of Bin Laden’s favorite son as an adult — an image apparently shot in Iran.
According to Joscelyn and Roggio, writing in the FDD’s Long War Journal, one of the newly released documents is a 19-page study of Al-Qaeda’s links to Iran written by a Bin Laden lieutenant.
Last month, at a seminar hosted by the same FDD that had an advance look at the files, Pompeo had promised to release Abbottabad documents that would show Iran-Al Qaeda ties.
“There have been relationships, there are connections. There have been times the Iranians have worked alongside Al-Qaeda,” the US spy chief argued.
“There have been connections where, at the very least, they have cut deals so as not to come after each other.”
This raised alarm bells among critics of President Donald Trump’s new strategy to counter Iranian influence, wary that hawks like Pompeo may be making a case for war.
The full extent and true nature of this relationship is unclear and a matter of dispute among scholars and policy-makers.