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The 17 Osama bin Laden Documents and What's in Them The 17 Osama bin Laden Documents and What's in Them

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The 17 Osama bin Laden Documents and What's in Them

A year after the death of Qaida terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point on Thursday released a trove of 17 unclassified documents recovered during the May 2011 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. 

The 17 documents totaled nearly 200 pages in their English translation. The earliest one is dated 2006. The latest is from 2011, according to the center. Here are the 17 documents and summaries, which were based on a CTC document that accompanied the release of the bin Laden letters. 


Text of Document 1

Summary: Bin Laden asks for a lengthy version of Anwar al-Awlaqi's resume.

Text of Document 2 


Summary: American Qaida spokesman Adam Gadahn writes on a media strategy for the anniversary of 9/11.

Text of Document 3 

Summary: Bin Laden declines al-Shababa's request for unity with al-Qaida.

Text of Document 4


Summary: This letter suggests that al-Qaida's relationship with other terror groups was the subject of internal debate.

Text of Document 5

Summary: This letter is written by Mahmud al-Hasan (Atiyya) and criticizes the tactics of Pakistan's Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. 

Text of Document 6

Summary: Jaysh al-Islam and Atiyya write back and forth on financial matters and legal advice.

Text of Document 7

Summary: This letter is part of another that was not released to CTC, but the author is concerned about al-Qaida's image. The author was also concerned that because the name al-Qaida lacks religious overtones, the U.S. is able to wage war against the group without offending all Muslims.

Text of Document 8

Summary: Bin Laden lays out his views of the Arab Spring. The letter is dated a week before the raid that killed him.

Text of Document 9

Summary: This letter is addressed to a legal scholar who is alarmed with the conduct of al-Qaida in Iraq. 

Text of Document 10

Summary: Atiyya wrote this letter addressed to the sheik, possibly bin Laden. The letter addresses the release of jihadi "brothers" from Iran. 

Text of Document 11

Summary: The CTC summary says this document shows al-Qaida's editing process: An unknown editor (possibly bin Laden) marks up statements form Ayman al-Zawahiri. 

Text of Document 12

Summary: This document has two letters that, according to CTC, "read very much like an intelligence assessment, designed to provide Atiyya with some perspective on al-Qaida generally and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) more specifically."

Text of Document 13

Summary: This letter focuses on issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan but also mentions the organization's media plan for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Text of Document 14

Summary: The author of this letter, possibly bin Laden, Atiyya, or both of them, advises al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to focus attacks on the U.S., not Yemen's government.

Text of Document 15

Summary: This letter focuses on strategy and the need for the group to attack the United States.

Text of Document 16

Summary: This letter is critical of bin Laden and urges him to change al-Qaida's policy. The author says that people are now repulsed by the term jihad. 

Text of Document 17

Summary: This is a long letter written by bin Laden in which he discusses his concern over the mistakes that regional jihadi groups have made.

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