Some home movies seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound have been released and they give an interesting glimpse into the family life of the world’s most wanted man.
The home videos have been released by the CIA six-and-a-half years after a Seal Team stormed his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killed him in May 2011.
One would expect that the family life of a man who masterminded the 9/11 attacks on New York would be abnormal, but contrary to expectations, the videos show a normal and happy family with happy children playing and running around, and also animals.
Clips from one of the videos shows young children playing on swings and a slide in a court yard, while others show them playing at home and one in which a boy recites sentences in Arabic.
In another scene an old man appears to show two young men how to shoot a toy gun. There is a lso a video showing a baby calf being nursed by a cow and then hens and roosters wandering in a farm yard.
But the videos also include a first shot of an adult Hamza bin Laden, who is expected to rise to prominence as a jihadist and has already featured on Al Qaeda audio clips. In one video he is seen at his wedding.
The CIA released the huge cache of files recovered from bin Laden’s computers after he was killed. The 470,000 files also include videos including explicit executions alongside ringtones for his phone and cartoons such as Tom and Jerry – and Lucien Freud’s portrait of the Queen.
The CIA also recovered bin Laden’s personal journal, which includes an entry the day before his death, among more than 18,000 documents, while there are approximately 79,000 audio and image files.
Among the documents is a military guide to guerrilla warfare, apparently issued by the US Marine Corps and a Word document called ‘Ruling on Fighting Americans Outside Iraq’.
But the more bizarre files found on his computer are a lot of Tom and Jerry cartoons and various children’s films – including Ice Age and Chicken Little – and, with obvious irony, a documentary called ‘Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?’.
The jarring list of video files include titles as disparate as ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘A mortar attack upon al-Dowra police station in Baghdad’.
In press releases that accompany the cache of materials recovered in the raid on May 2, 2011, the CIA said the release is an effort to further enhance public understanding of Al-Qaeda.
The CIA also say that there are files from the collection that remain unreleased, which include pornography, copyrighted materials, and files that “directly damage efforts to keep the nation secure”.
The release of 470,000 new files were authorised by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo said : “Today’s release of recovered al-Qa‘ida letters, videos, audio files and other materials provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans and workings of this terrorist organization.
CIA will continue to seek opportunities to share information with the American people consistent with our obligation to protect national security.”
The CIA says the documents also provide insights into ‘the origins of fissures that exist today between al-Qa‘ida and ISIS’ as well as strategic, doctrinal and religious disagreements within al-Qaeda and its allies; and hardships that al-Qaeda faced at the time of Bin Laden’s death.”
The entire collection has been available to the US Intelligence Community and Department of Defense organizations for years.
The Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) previously released documents from the collection in May 2015, March 2016, and January 2017. It seeks to provide material relevant to understanding the plans and workings of terrorist organizations