What Bin Laden’s Will and Other al-Qaeda Papers Show

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The U.S. intelligence community released today 113 documents captured during the May 2, 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden’s hide-out in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The documents provide a window into the operations of al Qaeda during Bin Laden’s last days, his personal life (including his will) and even his interest in the health of the American economy.

In addition to the historical material, the released documents offer some insight into the relations between extremist Islamic groups and the countries in which they operate.

In one letter, a Bin Laden ally from North Africa discusses a proposed truce with the government of Mauritania. In exchange for ceasing military activities in Mauritania and desisting from kidnapping tourists there, for example, al Qaeda proposed being paid between $10 million and $20 million Euros annually. It is not clear whether Mauritania agreed to the arrangement.

Elsewhere, Bin Laden and his associates discussing in passing the need to keep open lines of communication and finance through other Islamic countries.

Bin Laden is also concerned with the course of his movement in the Middle East and North Africa. He and his followers correspond with young Islamists rising up in Libya, Tunisia and Iraq to discuss how to parlay the chaos of the Arab spring into an expansion of al Qaeda influence. They also struggle with the divisions between Al Qaeda and the rising influence of other groups like ISIL.

Osama bin Laden’s Will

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