CIA releases vast Osama bin Laden archive seized in compound

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Declassified dossier includes bin Laden's son's wedding video and diaries left by Saudi-born militant

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (AFP)
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Thursday 2 November 2017 3:19 UTC
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The Central Intelligence Agency on Wednesday released a vast archive of documents and video seized in the 2011 US raid on a Pakistani compound that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Researchers from a Washington think tank who had prior access to the newly declassified dossier say it includes bin Laden's son's wedding video and diaries left by the Saudi-born militant.

"Today's release ... provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans and workings of this terrorist organisation," said CIA director Mike Pompeo.

The CIA has 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 network.

According to Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, scholars from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who were allowed to study 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.

They include bin Laden's personal journal and 18,000 document files, about 79,000 audio and image files and more than 10,000 video files, the CIA said.

The inclusion of Hamza Bin Laden's wedding video, for example, gives the world the first image of bin Laden's favourite son as an adult - an image apparently shot in Iran.

The CIA said that the materials, like those released in the past, provide insights into the origins of the differences between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group, disagreements within al-Qaeda and its allies, and the problems al-Qaeda faced at the time of bin Laden's death.
 
The materials released on Wednesday are posted online in their original Arabic.
 
It is the fourth tranche of materials taken from the walled compound where bin Laden and his family lived to be made public by the US government since May 2015.
 
Materials that still have not been released are being withheld because they could harm national security, are blank, corrupted or duplicate files, are pornographic or are protected by copyright, said a CIA statement.
 
The copyright-protected materials include more than two dozen videos such as "Antz," "Cars" and other animated films, the role-playing game "Final Fantasy VII" and "Where in the World is Osama bin Laden" and two other documentaries about the al-Qaeda leader, the CIA said.