The contents of Osama bin Laden’s “bookshelf” — the readings seized by SEAL Team 6 when they raided his compound and killed him in 2011 — were released Wednesday, and the list ranges from the expected (the Quran) to the eclectic (a Time article on America Online’s stock).
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the titles of a trove of documents online under the heading “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf.” The agency, which oversees U.S. intelligence agencies, unveiled the contents of bin Laden’s library from his compound at Abbottabad, Pakistan, in an effort to increase “transparency.”
The release comes four years after the mission killed bin Laden and allowed commandos to seize letters, books and other intelligence on the al-Qaeda terror network he founded. An inter-agency review determined that release of the documents and titles to others would not compromise efforts to combat the organization.
The documents were also released a week after an article by veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that quoted an anonymous source saying “there were ‘no garbage bags full of computers and storage devices. The guys just stuffed some books and papers they found in his room in their backpacks.’ “
Hundreds more documents are under review for release, according to Jeffrey Anchukaitis, a spokesman for ODNI.
“All documents whose publication will not hurt ongoing operations against al-Qaeda or their affiliates will be released,” Anchukaitis said in a statement.
Bin Laden’s readings, not surprisingly, focused on the 9/11 terrorist attacks he sponsored and the U.S. response. He also collected books and documents on the U.S. military and its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 9/11 Commission Report, the best-selling official account of the terror attacks, appears on bin Laden’s shelf, as do several Congressional Research Service reports on al-Qaeda, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The terror mastermind also had a shelf dedicated to non-fiction books with a flavor for current events, Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward, and the practical, a how-to guide on guerrilla air defense.
He also collected articles and magazines, including Businessweek, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. Also a copy of Popular Science and its “Best Innovations of the Year Issue” from December 2010.
A wealth of correspondence was also scooped up in the raid. Among them is a letter written in April 2011, just weeks before he was shot in the head by a Navy SEAL, his body later dropped into the sea.
Bin Laden writes about watching with interest developments in the Arab Spring and delights in the “fall of the tyrants” in Egypt and Tunisia.
“We are doing well and recently things have been calmer,” bin Laden wrote to an unnamed sheik. “The brothers are more careful and keeping low profile.”