Osama bin Laden papers: top 5 revelations

A new trove of letters seized during the Osama bin Laden raid and posted online Thursday by the US Military Academy at West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center paint an intimate picture of the inner workings and struggles of Al Qaeda, from debates on whether to use drug money to blackmail and recruit 'double agents' to practices that would make any Mafia don proud.

Arshad Butt/AP
Pakistani Shiite Muslims shout slogans as a protest against the killing of their community members by gunmen in Quetta, Pakistan, earlier this year.

1. Al Qaeda honchos offered “tributes”

Nasser Ishtayeh/AP/File
Palestinian children play on a Palestinian flag during a Fatah rally in the West Bank town of Nablus in this file photo. An Al Qaeda document says Fatah gave a monetary tribute to Al Qaeda for jihad.

Like tribute money offered to Mafia dons, funds were offered to Al Qaeda out of fear. One letter in the new trove explores whether Al Qaeda leaders should accept such money. It notes, for example, that Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, “has offered us funds, purportedly to [support] jihad, but there is another reason, namely their fear of becoming targets of our swords.”

On the plus side, the author notes that “these funds would go towards the purchase and manufacture of weapons.” It also points to insider fighting, noting that these funds might be used to counter the influence of Hamas, “who fear the growth of our influence and dominion.” 

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