Thousands of Osama bin Laden Documents Declassified and Released


American drones were decimating the upper ranks of Al Qaeda, his men were killing suspected spies, and Osama bin Laden wondered: Could an Iranian dentist have planted a tracking device in his wife’s tooth?

“The size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli,” he wrote, using the nom de guerre Abu Abdallah.

The letter was among thousands of pages of documents and other materials seized by Navy SEALs during the raid on Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011, and it was declassified on Tuesday along with 112 other pieces of writings and letters found in the Qaeda leader’s hide-out.

Among the newly released documents was what appeared to be a will written by Bin Laden, in which he said he had about $29 million in Sudan. If he was killed, it said, he hoped his family will “obey my will and to spend all the money that I have left in Sudan on Jihad.”

The documents provide a glimpse of Bin Laden’s thinking during his final years and at the struggle to keep Al Qaeda’s main branch and its offshoots in line and focused as American drone strikes killed the group’s senior leaders and demoralized its foot soldiers.

American officials have said that the intelligence seized by the SEALs during the raid included letters, spreadsheets, books and pornography. Yet only a fraction of the materials have been declassified and released, and experts have cautioned against drawing broad conclusions until there is more.

But in what has been released so far, the fear of being tracked is a theme that resurfaces again and again. In one letter, Bin Laden warns that a suitcase used to deliver a ransom could contain a tracking device.

In another letter, whose author is not clear, there is talk of men coming from Qatar with GPS devices and a map of Afghanistan. They were accompanied by a Qatari diplomat, who left three days later, saying he had diabetes and needed medication, according to the letter writer. The departure appears to have made the Qaeda members suspicious, and one militant identified by the pseudonym Abu Umamah “smashed it with a hammer,” the letter writer said.

The latest documents also include new details on Bin Laden’s apparent struggle to impose bureaucratic uniformity across his terrorist network.

There is a document outlining the structure of a “chief of staff committee,” which it explains is “the group of officers and personnel qualified to work with a military commander.”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Matthew Rosenberg