Documents seized during the 2011 US raid on a Pakistani compound that killed Osama bin Laden indicate that the al-Qaeda founder closely followed developments in Kashmir and the trial of Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has released 470,000 additional files seized in May 2011 when US Navy SEALs burst into the Abbottabad compound and shot dead Laden. The files include a 228-page, handwritten personal journal of bin Laden and about 79,000 images and audio files, including practice reels of public speeches. More than 10,000 video files, including the one of Hamza bin Laden's wedding were also released.
The documents revealed that Laden closely followed news related to the arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Headley and was a regular reader of some of the top Indian publications, PTI reported.
An Indian Express article titled 'Omar Sheikh's Pak handler Ilyas Kashmiri also handled Headley' and dated November 16, 2009 was found from the computer of Laden in Abbottabad.
An article 'Fears of air-borne terrorists strikes in India, UK' published in Sri Lanka Guardian was also found in a separate file on Laden's computer.
A PTI story, 'Al-Qaeda helping Taliban to destabilise Pak Government: Gates', dated February 9, 2010, was also found on his computer.
Another article published by The Time of India on November 15, 2009 found on Laden's computer was about the coded communications between Headley and his HuJI links.
Laden also saved on his computer another PTI article, titled: 'India to send magistrate to US to record Headley's statement'.
He highlighted in yellow some portion of the article titled 'Pak Major handled Headley's India recce', published on March 16, 2010.
The highlighted portion reads, "The dossiers also sought the custody of Pakistani terrorist, Ilyas Kashmiri. Kashmiri is the chief of the 313 Brigade and acts as the military operations head of the Al- Qaeda. Intercepts reveal that Kashmiri told two attackers inside Nariman House, 'Keep fighting, Brigade 313 has been deployed'.
The documents also revealed that Laden was interested in news related to Kashmir and several terrorists especially IIlyas Kashmiri.
An Economic Times story 'US asks Pakistan to find Iyas Kashmiri dated January 7, 2010 was found among the saved documents on Laden's computer.
A February 2009 article about Pakistani Kashmiri militants fighting NATO forces was also found.
Documents throw insights into al-Qaida working
The CIA said the additional files offer insights into the inner workings of the terrorist organization responsible for 9/11 and detail its clashes with the Islamic State group, a spin-off of al-Qaida's operation in Iraq. They also shed light on hardships that al-Qaida faced at the time of bin Laden's death.
It was the fourth trove of documents, images and computer files recovered during the raid. Earlier materials were released in May 2015, March 2016 and in January of this year.
The material also has information about how al-Qaida planned to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the network's work to spread its message through Western media; the group's effort to exploit the Arab uprisings in 2011; bin Laden's quest to keep his organization together amid disagreements over beliefs and operational tactics; and the organization's work to burnish its image with fellow Muslims amid negative media.
Bin Laden's journal
Osama's 228-page handwritten journal throws light on how a summer trip to the UK as a teenager and visits to Shakespeare’s birthplace convinced Osama bin Laden that the west was “decadent”. In the journal, he briefly describes visiting the home of William Shakespeare in England's Stratford-upon-Avon but says he was “not impressed” by British society and culture during his time in the UK, The Guardian reported.
“I got the impression that they were a loose people, and my age didn’t allow me to form a complete picture of life there,” he wrote in the journal. “We went every Sunday to visit Shakespeare’s house. I was not impressed and I saw that they were a society different from ours and that they were a morally loose society."
The journal was bought from a well-known bookshop in Pakistan a few hours drive from Abbottabad.
There are still materials that have not yet been released. The CIA said this includes materials that are sensitive to national security; those protected by copyright; pornography; malware; and blank, corrupted and duplicate files.
Not all the material, however, was of a serious nature. There was a video known as "Charlie bit my finger!" depicting a boy and his baby brother who bit his finger. There also were YouTube videos about crochet, including "How to Crochet a Flower."
And bin Laden's video collection included "Antz," a 1990s animated adventure comedy about an ant colony, "Chicken Little" and "The Three Musketeers." Also in the collection were "Where in the World is Osama bin Laden" and several National Geographic programs: "Kung Fu Killers," ''Inside the Green Berets" and "World's Worst Venom."