CIA Releases Vast Bin Laden Archive Seized In Compound
As the CIA on Wednesday released at least 470,000 files from Osama Bin Laden’s computers which was seized during the May 2011 raid in his Abbottabad safehouse, the world got a major glimpse of his life. Amidst graphic videos of suicide bombings and beheading are Bollywood chartbuster songs sung by the likes of Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. The files along with news reports on security measures for the 2010 Hockey World Cup in Delhi and videos by terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri is a compilation of “Best FIFA World Cup goals” featuring Garrincha, Roger Milla and Fernando Torres. It has been learnt that it also had a November 2009 report of The Indian Express, titled ‘Omar Sheikh’s Pak handler Ilyas Kashmiri also handled Headley.
The documents include Bin Laden’s personal journal, over 18,000 document files, and roughly 80,000 audio and image files, apart from thousands of videos — ranging from memes and gifs to animation movies and bombing videos — of up to 175 gigabytes. In the sea of digital data are videos of Bollywood songs, such as ‘Ajnabee mujhko itna bata’ from the Ajay Devgn and Kajol-starrer Pyar Toh Hona Hi Tha, the title track from the Salman Khan and Madhuri Dikshit-starrer Dil Tera Aashiq and Udit Narayan’s ‘Tu chand hai poonam ka’ from the 1994 classic Jaane Tamanna. Apart from Hindi music, the documents show that Bin Laden also had clips of the nursery rhyme ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, short clips from the cartoon series Tom & Jerry and animation movies Antz and Cars. They are interspersed with football videos, which include a compilation of the the ‘Best World Cup’ goals. A video titled ‘Where can I play football’ provides a beginner-level introduction to English language, teaching the use of basic words using the sport as a context.
According to a CIA release on its website, a BBC documentary titled ‘The Story of India’ was among the two dozen videos that were not released because of copyright issues. However, there are nearly a dozen India-related videos and news reports related to the Kashmir dispute.
Bin Laden kept a close watch on developments in India through newspaper and TV reports, as his viewing habits show. Several news clips from Indian channels were recovered from his hard drive, primarily related to David Headley and Ilyas Kashmiri, the alleged masterminds behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks. A report titled ‘Why India wants Al Qaida man Ilyas Kashmiri’ was found on his computer, along with another that had the file name: ‘Ilyas_Kashmiri_threatens_to_target_sports_even_in_India_2.’
The ‘sports’ tag apparently refers to the 2010 Hockey World Cup, which included the Pakistani national team. A delegation from Pakistan had travelled to India to check security measures following terror threats. A video of Pakistani delegation’s press interaction following the inspection was also found in Bin Laden’s cache.