The Navy SEALs who stormed bin Laden's compound in 2011 recovered an estimated one million documents. In 2015, the government released physical documents found on "bin Laden's bookshelf." Today it released digital files (as well as more physical materials) found on a variety of devices at the compound.
The release follows CIA director Mike Pompeo's September announcement that more files—excluding pornographic materials recovered from the Abbottabad compound—would be made available to the public soon.
The files included here come from a variety of devices retrieved from the compound, where bin Laden is believed to have hid since 2006, and could have belonged to any of the people who might have lived or passed through the place.
However, some of the most important files included in the dump are pages from bin Laden's personal diary, new information about al Qaeda's relationship with Iran, and further insight into bin Laden's connections to other parts of his terrorist organization, according to the think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). FDD has advocated for the files to be released to the public in the past.
As the first batch of documents released in 2015 revealed, someone at the compound had a penchant for conspiracy theories. Included in the trove released Wednesday are several documents concerning the Illuminati, for example.
There are also over one-hundred YouTube videos, including "Charlie Bit My Finger," a 2007 clip which became an iconic meme. In addition there are several clips labeled "Funny Cats." There's also a 2005 BBC documentary titled Hiroshima. The CIA said it withheld a number of movies included in the cachet for copyright reasons.
It will likely take weeks for journalists, academics, and other researchers to parse through the majority of the documents in the trove and contextualize their historical significance.
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