Newly released letters seized from Osama bin Laden’s secret Pakistani bunker, where he had been hiding and later killed in 2011, show a paranoid, isolated terror leader writing to family and dictating orders to followers.
The Obama administration released the seized documents Thursday in its waning hours of power. In one letter, bin Laden advised associates to move around as little as possible.
“Refrain from moving around unless there is a dire need and accomplish your work using couriers, and use the less frequented roads,” he wrote in one of several undated letters.
In another letter, he wrote to his sons about tracking devices he thought Iranian officials could have injected into them.
“If they inject you with a shot, this shot might be loaded with a tiny chip,” bin Laden wrote to his sons, Uthman and Mohammed. “The syringe size may be normal, but the needle is expected to be larger than normal size. The chip size may be as long as a seed of grain but very thin and smooth.”
“Notice if they take any of you for an operation, for good or no good reason, and inject you. Make sure to remember any comments about the reasons for setting you free. Take notes of dates and times of any of such actions,” he wrote.
It’s the third time the Obama administration released declassified material from bin Laden’s bunker. The last time was in March of last year, and before that, in May 2015. While some letters released Thursday outlined commands to his followers, or advice to his sons, one was to his mother.
“Dearest mother, how are you doing? We miss you very much,” bin Laden wrote. “I think you are aware of our moves and a few things happened during the moves. I can’t divulge them in a letter. But thank God for His protection. He delivered us from the hands of the tyrants. I hope that our reunion is near and I will tell you all about it in detail.”
In another letter, bin Laden outlined a strategy for getting one of his propaganda tapes played on American television.
“Obtain a commitment letter to broadcast the entire tape. I nominate the CBS station,” he wrote, adding that two letters should be drafted to America. “The letters should concentrate on the lies of Bush, his government and his failure. Also, they should show we were able to bleed America economically, spending a nominal amount, in comparison to the billions spent by America.”
“America is hated and despised by all nations like never before,” he wrote. “Our concern is to make the American people understand that our attacks against them are warranted … our speech will neither be threatening nor comforting, just for them to understand why they are attacked.”
President Obama ordered Operation Neptune Spear, which saw SEAL Team Six kill bin Laden in a firefight in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the early morning hours of May 2, 2011, nearly ten years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which bin Laden claimed responsibility for, and which launched the U.S. into two wars and the so-called largest manhunt in American history.
Additional declassified materials seized from bin Laden’s bunker have been posted at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence website, and can be found here.