The bin Laden documents
Within the cache of documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in 2011 and recently released by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the al-Qaeda leader’s view of Iran. It had generously offered al-Qaeda “money and arms and everything they need,” bin Laden wrote, “and offered them training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in return for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia.”
The words add breadth and depth to reports that have circulated for years about the ties between Iran and the terrorist group responsible for 9/11. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed the newly released documents as “fake news” but they only buttress allegations about Iran’s old habits and proclivities.
Bin Laden also mused on the destabilising benefits of the “Arab spring” uprisings and the role played by the Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera. He lauded the channel for “working on toppling regimes” and for “carrying the banner of the revolutions.”
Bin Laden was clear about the potential benefits of the uprisings. “This chaos and the absence of leadership in the revolutions is the best environment to spread al-[Qaeda’s] thoughts and ideas,” bin Laden told his family in conversations that took place between February and April 2011.
In Libya, he said, the chaos could be fully exploited because it had “opened the door for jihadists.”
Ironically, even in his last redoubt, bin Laden saw the possibility of the Libyan situation spinning out of control but the parties that supported the NATO-led campaign that toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 somehow did not.