Who was Osama bin Laden influenced by?

The US foreign intelligence service CIA has published a gigantic archive from the possessions of the killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. The people were given the opportunity to "gain further insight into the planning and operation of this terrorist organization," said CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

The archive, which is now freely accessible on the Internet, contains 470,000 files with written documents and videos - which, however, are currently not accessible for technical reasons. The materials were confiscated by the US elite squad that surprised and shot bin Laden in his hiding place in Pakistan in May 2011.

According to researchers from the political institute Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who were able to sift through the archive in advance, this indeed enables new insights. The documents would help "fill in some of the gaps that we still have about the al-Qaeda leadership," said expert Bill Roggio.

Of particular interest is a video showing for the first time a reasonably up-to-date recording of bin Laden's son Hamsa. It comes from his wedding, which apparently took place in Iran. Since the death of its founder, the terrorist organization has tried to profile his son as a leader of the terrorist jihad. So far there have been no images of the adult hamsa.

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The records also show that bin Laden still played an active role despite hiding in Pakistan. He was in contact with a number of Al Qaeda leaders around the world. Groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaida in the Maghreb (AQIM) and the Somali terrorist group al Shabaab received instructions from him. He also tried to influence the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban.

Bin Land's diary, 228 pages with personal notes, has now also been published. It shows that he was betting on capitalizing on the Arab Spring. Al-Qaeda operations quickly came about in Libya, which had sunk into chaos as a result of the uprising and the death of Muammar al-Gadaffi. Like the British newspaper Guardian reports, bin Laden also noted in his diary that a visit to Great Britain and the birthplace of the poet Shakespeare made him believe that the West was decadent. Bin Laden had taken an English course at Oxford as a teenager.

Like the FDD in its magazine Long War Journal reports that an important document comes from a senior al-Qaeda leader who classified relations with Iran. Iran is dominated by Shiites, while al Qaeda is a terrorist organization run by Sunni Islamists. Sunni extremists consider Shiites to be heretics. In the Arab world, attacks by Sunni terrorists have often been against Shiite believers.

According to the now published document, Iran had supported some Saudi members of al Qaeda with money, weapons and the opportunity to use the training camps of the radical Islamic Shiite terrorist militia Hezbolla in Lebanon.

In return, the Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region as a whole should take action against the Americans. However, since the al-Qaida members violated agreements, the cooperation was terminated and some members of the terrorist organization were arrested.

Nevertheless, al Qaeda does not see itself as an enemy of Iran, but as a common enemy of the United States, the report says. In a previously published letter from bin Laden, he had also emphasized the special importance of Iran for his organization.

Otherwise, the data contains pretty much everything that would be found on many other computers: personal photos, emails, notes, some porn and pirated movies. At bin Laden, for example, there were Hollywood films like Ice Age and some episodes of Tom and Jerry. Apparently bin Laden also liked Mr. Bean and saw the first viral YouTube hits and internet memes.

The USA had already published parts of the archive in 2012 and 2015. From this it emerged: Osama bin Laden wanted to drive the USA out of the Muslim world until the end with a new, large-scale attack. The documents also contained some statements about Germany, but there were no concrete attack plans. One goal of al Qaeda was therefore that the German soldiers would be withdrawn from Afghanistan. For this purpose, for example, German journalists should be intimidated, whose reporting should influence German politics accordingly.

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