Osama bin Laden’s released data humanises the inhumane

Two years ago, the CIA released a list of books, articles, and declassified material it found on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Now, it’s released a trove of data found on the compound’s computers — some of which may seem incongruous with the idea of a terrorist leader who orchestrated the deaths of thousands of innocent people.

“CIA Director Mike Pompeo authorized the release in the interest of transparency and to enhance public understanding of al-Qaeda and its former leader,” read a statement by the CIA.

The hundreds of gigabytes worth of data, which can be found in full here, was split into four categories of audio, video, images, and documents. As of 9.55am Thursday, the files were unavailable to the public due to “technical reasons”.

While some of the data details politically relevant information — like al-Qaeda’s complicated relationship with Iran — the web has latched on to some of the more humanizing pieces of information.

Among the terrorism-related data lies files for Pixar’s Cars, the animated Chicken Little, and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. But it wasn’t only children’s films someone in the compound was watching: One video file entitled “Loosechange2” implies that bin Laden had access to conspiracy documentary Loose Change, which argues that 9/11 was an inside job.

Bin Laden’s compound also held saved tutorial videos on crocheting baskets, baby socks, and beanie caps

It also seems like someone at the compound was into anime for reasons other than pure entertainment. According to a report by Gizmodo, non-consecutive episodes of mystery anime Case Closed were found on the compound’s computers, as well as a series of pornographic games.

Bin Laden’s compound also had a downloaded file of one the internet’s first viral videos “Charlie Bit My Finger“, and a number of tutorial videos on crocheting the likes of baskets, baby socks, and beanie caps.

The data also revealed multiple video game files for the likes of Final Fantasy VII, Zuma Deluxe, and Sniper Elite: Nazi Zombie Army 2.

Of course, none of this data proves that bin Laden himself engaged with the content, but it is an interesting — and disconcertingly human — look into his mind, or the minds of those around him.

Feature image: André-Pierre du Plessis via Flickr (CC BY 2.0, resized)



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