Bin Laden Files Reveal Growing Terrorist Threat to U.S.
long last, most of the files captured when U.S. Special Forces killed al-Qaeda’s
leader in May 2011 have been released. Although bits and pieces have dribbled
out, they should have been public long since.
best short discussion of the files is in The Long War Journal, written by Bill
Roggio and Tom Joscelyn, my colleagues at the Foundation for the Defense of
Democracies. They, along with Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard, have long
advocated the release of the archive.
files are very important. They provide invaluable insight into the growing
terrorist threat to the United States, document AQ operations well beyond the
Middle East, and show remarkable patience in the use of media. Bin Laden is
gone, but his blueprint for his organization’s long-term strategy remains
has the intelligence community been so reluctant to release the files? It took
so long because a lot of the story they tell is at odds with the official
narrative, according to which AQ had been gravely weakened, and bin Laden
himself largely marginalized, by the time of the attack. Other files document
the details of the oft-denied cooperation between AQ and the Tehran regime of
the Islamic Republic of Iran. Still others document relations with Pakistan and
with other governments and regimes in the region.
Michael Flynn, whose DIA experts had access to the whole archive and had
analyzed key parts of it, wrote in a best-selling book I co-authored (“The
Field of Fight”) that
(Obama) and his supporters were assuring the American people that al Qaeda was
broken and on the run, we learned that their strength had roughly doubled.
letter to bin Laden reveals that al Qaeda was working on chemical and biological
weapons in Iran.…Others speak of Mumbai-style attacks on European
cities….The story of the bin Laden documents is just one of many...
why another top American general has called the bin Laden files “the single
largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever,” and why the
suppression of the documents is so serious. It will take time for public debate
to reveal the full significance of the archive, and some of it remains
classified. This massive release will help, but we must not ignore the fact that
the CIA did what it could to prevent an informed debate all along.
seems clear that our picture of al-Qaeda has been erroneous in the past, and may
still be. CIA director Mike Pompeo, whose critical views of Iran are beyond
doubt, was not a forceful advocate of releasing the documents. The impetus seems
to have come from the president’s office. In any event, we can hope that they
will put an end to the very damaging notion that Sunnis and Shi’ites don’t
work closely together.
we were smarter when we knew less. In 1998, when the U.S. government indicted
bin Laden and al-Qaeda for the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the
Qaeda forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the
government of Iran and its associated terrorist group, Hezbollah, for the
purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West,
particularly the United States.
then, it wasn’t hard for us to acknowledge that AQ Sunni bombers worked with
Shi’te terrorists in Hezbollah and elsewhere in the Iranian regime. Then we
got more sophisticated, to our misfortune. Let’s hope the bin Laden documents
help our understanding, and eventually help shape a winning strategy.