The Osama bin Laden documents

The al Qaeda documents were found in Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.

Story highlights

  • Seventeen declassified documents seized in the Abbottabad raid released
  • The Combating Terrorism Center says the documents are all electronic or draft letters
  • Click the links to read each document

Scores of pages of al Qaeda documents seized in last year's U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden were released Thursday.

They comprise 175 pages in the original Arabic of letters and drafts from bin Laden and other key al Qaeda figures, including the American Adam Gadahn and Abu Yahya al-Libi.

The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, published the papers on its website.

Here are the center's brief description of the documents. You can click the links for the English translations.

Description of the Abbottabad documents (PDF)
The center says the letters were written between September 2006 and April 2011 by many well-known figures.

Bergen: OBL docs could damage Al Qaeda
Bergen: OBL docs could damage Al Qaeda


    Bergen: OBL docs could damage Al Qaeda


Bergen: OBL docs could damage Al Qaeda 04:15
Bin Laden documents revealed
Bin Laden documents revealed


    Bin Laden documents revealed


Bin Laden documents revealed 03:02
Is al Qaeda weaker today?
Is al Qaeda weaker today?


    Is al Qaeda weaker today?


Is al Qaeda weaker today? 04:21

Letter from bin Laden in August 2010 seeking information about Anwar al-Awlaki and Yemen (PDF)
References are also made to floods in Pakistan and the media plan for the 9/11 anniversary.

Letter from Gadahn in January 2011 giving media advice for 9/11 anniversary (PDF)
The center says the letter appears to be a response to earlier questions from bin Laden.

Letter from bin Laden, using the pseudonym "Zamaria" to the head of a Somali militant group (PDF)
Bin Laden politely declines a request for formal unity with al Qaeda.

Letter composed in December 2010 from a high-ranking personality, possibly Ayman al-Zawahiri (PDF)
The letter refers to the request from the al-Shabab group in Somali to unite with al Qaeda.

Letter dated December 3, 2010, about indiscriminate violence of a group in Pakistan (PDF)
The authors indicate that al Qaeda's top leaders had serious concerns about the actions of the TTP, a Pakistani Taliban group, including the killing of Muslims.

Letter saying that a militant group needed financial assistance "to support jihad" (PDF)
The center believes the letter was forwarded to bin Laden.

Part of a letter discussing the re-branding of al Qaeda (PDF)
It's not clear who wrote the letter, but it talks of a need to change the name of the terror organization to "Qaidat al-Jihad."

Letter from bin Laden dated April 26, 2011 (PDF)
Bin Laden outlines his response to the Arab Spring, a week before his death.

Letter dated March 28, 2007, showing the author's alarm at al Qaeda in Iraq's conduct (PDF)
The author, who appears to be of Egyptian origin, asks a legal scholar about the use of chlorine gas.

Letter dated June 11, 2009, about the release of detainees from Iran (PDF)
There is an indication that more people may be released, including some bin Laden relatives.

Draft of a document on the Arab Spring (PDF)
This formed the basis of statements released by al-Zawahiri and reveal the al Qaeda editing process.

Two letters apparently on how al Qaeda is perceived among Saudi scholars (PDF)
The author provides summaries of meetings with scholars, apparently with the intent of evaluating support.

Letter dated October 21, 2010, from bin Laden on the Afghanistan/Pakistan region (PDF)
Bin Laden comments on the security situation in Pakistan's Waziristan and the need to move al Qaeda members out.

Letter, possibly from bin Laden, to the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (PDF)
The author tells group to focus on the United States, not the Yemeni government .

Series of paragraphs, some of which match letter in previous entry to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (PDF)
The letter discusses strategy, the need to target the United States including possible U.S. targets in South Africa.

Letter to bin Laden dated September 14, 2006, from "a loving brother" (PDF)
The author criticizes bin Laden for the attacks in "Islamic countries in general and the Arabian Peninsula in particular."

Letter from bin Laden in late May 2010 indicating support for a "new phase" (PDF)
Bin Laden says he is concerned with the killings of innocent Muslims in attacks by regional terror groups.