Dubai, United Arab Emirates – A journal made public by the CIA and apparently handwritten by one of Osama bin Laden’s daughters offers a glimpse into how the al-Qaida leader viewed the world around him and reveals his deep interest in the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions unfolding in the months before he was killed in a US raid.
He talks about Libya becoming a pathway for jihadis to Europe; of his visit as a youth to William Shakespeare’s home in Britain; of how quickly turmoil had gripped the Middle East.
The 228-page journal meanders among discussions, thoughts and reflections Bin Laden shared with his family about how to exploit the uprisings, what to make of the rapid changes unfolding in the Arab world and when al-Qaida should speak out.
“This chaos and the absence of leadership in the revolutions is the best environment to spread al-Qaida’s thoughts and ideas,” bin Laden is quoted as telling his family in the document.
Bin Laden’s wife, referred to as Um Hamza, assures him that a tape he released seven years earlier calling out the rulers of the region as unfit could be one of the major forces behind the Arab Spring protests roiling the region.
The Associated Press examined a copy of the journal uploaded by the Long War Journal to its website. The CIA released it Wednesday as part of a trove of material recovered during the May 2011 raid that killed bin Laden, then took down the files, saying they were “temporarily unavailable pending resolution of a technical issue.”
The journal appears to cover conversations between bin Laden and his daughters, Miriam and Somiya, his wife and his sons, Khaled and Hamza – the latter of whom would become a potential successor to lead the group his father founded.
The journal is titled, “Special diaries for Abu Abdullah: Sheikh Abdullah’s points of view – A session with the family,” which refers to Bin Laden by his traditional Arabic name. The conversations took place between February and April, 2011, with the journal entries dated according to the Islamic calendar.
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