Archive for the ‘Osama bin Laden and Iran’ category

The Bin Laden Files Reveal Growing Terrorist Threat to U.S.

November 5, 2017

The Bin Laden Files Reveal Growing Terrorist Threat to U.S., PJ MediaMichael Ledeen, November 4, 2017

(Please see also, Did Obama Inc. Block Bin Laden Doc Release to Protect Iran Deal? — DM)

It seems clear that our picture of al-Qaeda has been erroneous in the past, and may still be. CIA director Mike Pompeo, whose critical views of Iran are beyond doubt, was not a forceful advocate of releasing the documents. The impetus seems to have come from the president’s office. In any event, we can hope that they will put an end to the very damaging notion that Sunnis and Shi’ites don’t work closely together.

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At long last, most of the files captured when U.S. Special Forces killed al-Qaeda’s leader in May 2011 have been released. Although bits and pieces have dribbled out, they should have been public long since.

The best short discussion of the files is in The Long War Journal, written by Bill Roggio and Tom Joscelyn, my colleagues at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. They, along with Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard, have long advocated the release of the archive.

The files are very important. They provide invaluable insight into the growing terrorist threat to the United States, document AQ operations well beyond the Middle East, and show remarkable patience in the use of media. Bin Laden is gone, but his blueprint for his organization’s long-term strategy remains active.

Why has the intelligence community been so reluctant to release the files? It took so long because a lot of the story they tell is at odds with the official narrative, according to which AQ had been gravely weakened, and bin Laden himself largely marginalized, by the time of the attack. Other files document the details of the oft-denied cooperation between AQ and the Tehran regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Still others document relations with Pakistan and with other governments and regimes in the region.

General Michael Flynn, whose DIA experts had access to the whole archive and had analyzed key parts of it, wrote in a best-selling book I co-authored (“The Field of Fight”) that

When (Obama) and his supporters were assuring the American people that al Qaeda was broken and on the run, we learned that their strength had roughly doubled.

Flynn wrote,

One letter to bin Laden reveals that al Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran.…Others speak of Mumbai-style attacks on European cities….The story of the bin Laden documents is just one of many…

That’s why another top American general has called the bin Laden files “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever,” and why the suppression of the documents is so serious. It will take time for public debate to reveal the full significance of the archive, and some of it remains classified. This massive release will help, but we must not ignore the fact that the CIA did what it could to prevent an informed debate all along.

It seems clear that our picture of al-Qaeda has been erroneous in the past, and may still be. CIA director Mike Pompeo, whose critical views of Iran are beyond doubt, was not a forceful advocate of releasing the documents. The impetus seems to have come from the president’s office. In any event, we can hope that they will put an end to the very damaging notion that Sunnis and Shi’ites don’t work closely together.

Curiously, we were smarter when we knew less. In 1998, when the U.S. government indicted bin Laden and al-Qaeda for the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the indictment said

Al Qaeda forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group, Hezbollah, for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.

Back then, it wasn’t hard for us to acknowledge that AQ Sunni bombers worked with Shi’te terrorists in Hezbollah and elsewhere in the Iranian regime. Then we got more sophisticated, to our misfortune. Let’s hope the bin Laden documents help our understanding, and eventually help shape a winning strategy.

Did Obama Inc. Block Bin Laden Doc Release to Protect Iran Deal?

November 4, 2017

Did Obama Inc. Block Bin Laden Doc Release to Protect Iran Deal? The Point (FrontPage Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, November 3, 2017

(Please see also, Al-Qaeda Terrorism and Shakespeare, which deals with some of the newly released Bin Laden documents:

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

— DM)

The release of the Bin Laden files was met with a great deal of interest. There was less interest in why it took so long to release them. But this story sheds some light on that. And raises some very troubling questions.

On the penultimate day of the Obama administration, less than 24 hours before the president would vacate the White House, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a press release meant to put to rest what had been a pesky issue for his office. “Closing the Book on Bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced. “Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort to declassify several hundred documents recovered in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in May 2011.” Accompanying the press release were 49 documents captured during the raid, bringing the total number of documents made public to 571.

The actual number was 440,000.

On Wednesday, November 1, CIA director Mike Pompeo announced the release of “nearly 470,000 additional files” from the Abbottabad raid. From 571 to 470,000: The “most transparent administration in history,” you might say, has just been trumped, by nearly three orders of magnitude.

So why did Obama Inc. obstruct the release of the files? The apparent answer may be that it was trying to protect its peace moves with the Taliban and Iran.

… Obama’s National Security Council hand-picked 17 documents to be provided to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point for analysis. (Obama’s NSC would later hold back two of those documents. One of them, laying out the deep ties between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda leadership, would complicate Obama administration efforts to launch negotiations with the Taliban, according to an explanation the NSC’s Doug Lute offered to West Point.)

… The new materials make clear that ODNI sought to mislead the country not only about the size of the collection but about its contents, too. The January ODNI press statement claimed that the batch of 49 documents it was then making public “mirrors the themes in previous releases,” chief among them Osama bin Laden’s “hatred, suspicion of Iran.”

… Barack Obama wanted what al Qaeda already had: a mutually beneficial partnership with Tehran. Revealing to the American people the truth about Osama bin Laden’s cozy working relationship with the Iranian government might have fatally undermined that diplomatic quest, just as the ongoing vitality of al Qaeda, amply testified to in the bin Laden documents, would have contradicted Obama’s proud claims in 2012 that al Qaeda was “on the run.” So Obama, with the eager cooperation of some in the intelligence community, bottled up the bin Laden documents and ran out the clock.

… The CIA release of the additional 470,000 documents includes a 19-page report on al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran authored by an unidentified al Qaeda operative. The author lays out some tensions between al Qaeda and Iran but makes clear those differences don’t preclude cooperation. The document reports that the Iranian regime was giving its “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed.” This included safe haven in Iran, the facilitation of travel for senior al Qaeda operatives, and “money, arms,” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

This is far from the biggest scandal to emerge from the Obama era. In some ways it’s almost routine.

And yet it reveals that Obama’s appeasement of Islamic terrorists, from the Taliban to Iran, dominated foreign policy, suppressed counterterrorism and permeated every corner of his administration. Even the Bin Laden documents had to be kept locked up to protect the narrative.

Even while Obama was using Bin Laden’s unintended death (Obama had sought to put Osama on trial to shut down the trials of terrorists in the Article III system)  to campaign for reelection, he was cozying up to Bin Laden’s allies in Iran.

And covering up the truth.

Al-Qaeda Terrorism and Shakespeare

November 4, 2017

Al-Qaeda Terrorism and Shakespeare, American ThinkerMichael Curtis, November 4, 2017

(Please see also, Can Bin Laden Heir Salvage Jihad in Syria? — DM)

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

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Cole Porter would have been perplexed by the petition in October 2017 to the English Department at Cambridge University to “decolonize the curriculum,” but he had the foresight to call on people to brush up on your Shakespeare, start quoting him now.  Evidently Osama bin Laden, the epitome of decolonization, who had no use for Broadway anyway, had no quarter for Porter.  The terrorist leader who founded al-Qaeda in 1988, not one of those attired in wonder that know not what to say, implicitly told the world this in his personal diary of 228 pages with his private reflections that have just been made public.

This information is important at a time when the United States and the Western world have been preoccupied with the activities of ISIS, both the caliphate and its adherents, with attacks in New York City and around the world that have overshadowed the once more well known terrorist group al-Qaeda and its leader Osama.

On November 1, 2017, Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, ordered the release of 470,000 documents captured in the Navy SEALs’ raid on May 2, 2011 on the compound of Osama in Abbottabad, Pakistan, close to the Pakistan Military Academy.  President Barack Obama had held that no more data taken from the compound should be released to the public .

However, Pompeo believes that it is important for reasons of national security to make most of the unclassified documents public, except those that might harm national security or are pornographic or copyrighted.  This is made more important because the U.S. forces in the raid were not able to take everything in the compound, and no doubt Pakistani officials have useful information not available to the U.S.  It is certain that American analysts can gain important insights into the plans and workings of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations from the revealed material.

No doubt the documents will prove a treasure trove with their astonishing array of material.  Some of them, if tantalizing, have little to do with Islamic terrorism or with U.S. security, especially those that are probably for the amusement of younger and other members of the Osama family that contained several of his wives and 23 children and his grandchildren.  In this part of the treasure trove are animated films; episodes of Tom and Jerry; film classics; a video of “Charlie Bit my Finger”; commercials from an Oregon car dealer; home videos with a barn and animals; videos such asThe Three Musketeers; National Geographic films on Peru, the Kremlin, and India; and material on conspiracy theories, the occult, the Illuminati, and even 9/11, for which adherents of al-Qaeda were responsible.

Among the 80,000 audio and image files and the 10,000 video files are statements by Osama, his 228-page personal journal, and jihadist propaganda.  Interestingly, Osama seemed to have liked watching three documentaries on himself and programs on how the West saw him.  One of them was an interview in 2005 of former CIA director James Woolsey of the Iraq war.  The collection includes videos of jihadist beheadings and a video of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Iraqi al-Qaeda leader, who was killed in a 2006 U.S. air strike.

It has long been assumed that Osama was radicalized after he joined the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1979 fighting the forces of the Soviet Union.  But the personal diary reveals a different picture.  Osama tells of his visit to the U.K. for unstated “treatment” for ten weeks while he was in the 6th grade, aged 13.  He reports that he went every Sunday to visit Shakespeare’s 16th-century house in Stratford-upon-Avon.  He was not impressed, and he realized that British society was very different from his own and was a “morally loose society.”  It was at Stratford, not Afghanistan, that he first concluded that the West is “decadent.”  It is unlikely that he actually saw any one of Shakespeare’s plays, but even if not influenced by Hamlet, he acted as “if from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.”

Though his exact schedule is unknown, Osama experienced further decadence in Britain.  He had the misfortune to take an English language course at Oxford – at least it saved him from the “colonialism” at Cambridge – and is believed to have attended a soccer game at the home of Arsenal, the brutal Great Gunners, at Highbury in north London.

The materials reveal that American administration perceptions of Osama’s supposed unimportance in his last decade were inaccurate.  Osama and his network remained active and conspiratorial, and he was still the central factor in al-Qaeda, remaining in operations communication with his followers around the world.  His cohesive network included al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Shabaab in Somalia, and even the Taliban.

Some of his revelations are relevant to current affairs and U.S. policy.  He discusses the differences between al-Qaeda and ISIS and the factions with strategic, doctrinal, and religious differences within al-Qaeda.  The documents include the videos of Hamza, Osama’s favorite son and potential successor, with footage of his wedding, which apparently took place in Iran.  This son is slated to be the head of al-Qaeda and is a bitter enemy of the U.S.  Indeed, early in 2017, Hamza in a message called on al-Qaeda to attack Jews, Americans, Westerners, and Russians, using whatever weapons they have.  The U.S. has now placed Hamza on its Global Terrorist List.

For U.S. policymakers, it is useful to examine Osama’s thoughts on a variety of issues: the use of Libya after the death of Moammar Gaddafi; the path then and still for jihadists to enter Europe; the turmoil in the Middle East; Yemen, where Osama was plotting to kill the ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh; Bahrain; the protest by schoolchildren in Syria in 2011; the exploitation of the Arab Spring and other uprisings; and what al-Qaeda should do to make use of chaos.

Particularly important is Osama’s account of relations between al-Qaeda and Iran.

They were and are complex, fluctuating relations and loose ties between Sunni Osama and Shiite Iran.  What brought them together was the common hostility to the U.S. and to Saudi Arabia.  Iran supported al-Qaeda’s war against those countries.  Iran offered al-Qaeda “everything they needed,” funds and arms, and the opportunity to train in Hezb’allah camps in Lebanon in exchange for striking U.S. interests.  Iran sheltered al-Qaeda people.  Al-Qaeda opposed Saudi Arabia because it was hosting U.S. troops during the Gulf war.  Osama sent a group, the al-Qaeda management committee, to Iran while Iran enabled al-Qaeda to move funds and fighters to south Asia and Syria.

Lastly, Osama’s relations with Pakistan.  It is now clear that Pakistani authorities helped to hide him from the CIA for almost a decade.  This is clear from the fact that Osama used cell phones and computer hard drives, among other implements.

There is obviously a great deal of detail to analyze in the 470,000 documents.  What is important in all this for the U.S. and the Western world and Russia is reaffirmation of the need for cooperation to overcome Islamic terrorism.

Trove of Bin Laden documents reveal Iran’s secret dealings with al-Qaeda

November 2, 2017

Trove of Bin Laden documents reveal Iran’s secret dealings with al-Qaeda, The Telegraph

A file photograph dated 1998 showing Saudi-born billionaire Osama Bin Laden smiling as he sits in a cave in the Jalalabad region of Afghanistan. CREDIT: EPA

With 470,000 files released in one trance, it will likely take weeks for journalists, academics, and other researchers to shift through the documents in the trove and contextualise their significance.

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A newly released trove of documents recovered from Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound have revealed “secret dealings” between Iran and al-Qaeda.

Nearly half a million files found on the computer seized in the May 2, 2011, US raid on the al-Qaeda founder’s hideout in Abbottabad were released by the CIA on Wednesday.

A never-before-seen 19-page document purportedly written by a senior member of al-Qaeda details an arrangement between Iran and members of the group to strike American interests in “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

In exchange, Shia Iran offered Sunni militants “money, arms” and “training in Hizbollah camps in Lebanon.”

Iranian intelligence facilitated the travel of some operatives with visas, while sheltering others.

The author of the file, described as “well-connected,” explains that al-Qaeda’s forces violated the terms of the agreement of the deal, however, resulting in several men being detained.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House CREDIT: AP

Iranian connections to Hizballah and Palestinian militant groups, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are well-documented, but its ties to al-Qaeda have until now mostly been shrouded in secrecy.

The timing of the release comes as US President Donald Trump is trying to decertify a bilateral deal agreed with Iran to end its nuclear proliferation programme, which was negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama and one which he has described as the “worst deal ever made”.

Speaking at a national security seminar organised by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington DC last month about the release of the documents, Mike Pompeo, CIA director, said al-Qaeda and Iran have always built “secret and open” ties.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo arrives for a closed briefing before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. CREDIT: REUTERS

Mr Pompeo attributed the relationship between the two parties to the fact that they view the West as a common enemy, referring to an “ideological consensus” of their cooperation against the West.

He added that the two sides did not fight against each other because they considered the West a greater threat to them.

Mr Pompeo stressed that CIA is still watching these relations, especially with the complexity of the situation in Syria, noting that US intelligence is tracking the terrorist organisations’ loss of territories  in Syria and Iraq.

His comments have raised alarm bells among critics of Mr Trump’s new strategy to counter Iranian influence, wary that hawks like Mr Pompeo may be making a case for war.

The documents also contained a log of bin Laden’s video collection, which included pornographic material, several Hollywood movies and three documentaries about himself.

A video of Osama’s son is at the original.

The images are not current, but they are much more recent than the photo al-Qaeda is willing to distribute.

According to Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, scholars from the foundation who were allowed to study the trove before it was made public, it provides new insights.

“The Abbottabad repository confirms that bin Laden was anything but retired when US forces knocked down his door. He was not a mere figurehead,” they write in the Long War Journal. 

“During the final months of his life, Osama bin Laden was communicating with subordinates around the globe. Recovered memos discuss the various committees and lieutenants who helped bin Laden manage his sprawling empire of terror.”

With 470,000 files released in one trance, it will likely take weeks for journalists, academics, and other researchers to shift through the documents in the trove and contextualise their significance.