Bin Laden’s papers prove him and al-Qaeda a hands-down success

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says he wants the Obama administration to turn over the papers of Usama bin Laden to his Committee by 11 October 2016, or he will issue a subpoena for them. He believes they will make a lie of the Obama administration’s claim that al-Qaeda was all but destroyed and bin Laden was isolated from his organization when he was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May, 2011.

The congressman is wrong on two counts. First, the Bush administration is just as culpable as Obama’s on the matter of lying to the citizenry about the condition of al-Qaeda and bin Laden’s isolation from the organization. Second, while a full release of the documents would be most welcome, the documents that have already been released definitively prove this deliberate, bipartisan deceit for any person who has taken the time to read them.

There have been three major releases of the so called “Abbottabad Documents” — a bit more than 235 documents — since bin Laden’s death:

  1., 3 May 2012
  2., 20 March 2015
  3., 1 March 2016

Being a terminal pedant, I have read the documents — especially those bin Laden wrote and received, many have little or nothing to do with him — and can only say that their contents are diametrically opposed to what the Bush and Obama administrations have told Americans and the world. The documents, for example, show that:

  • Bin Laden was never isolated. The documents make it clear that he was fully involved in all of the important facets of Al-Qaeda’s financial, manpower, military, training, and diplomatic operations. To be sure, his involvement therein became more difficult and frustrating after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent start of drone operations — which bin Laden says were the bane of AQ’s existence — but his ability to command was only slowed, never halted.
  • Bin Laden, in his private correspondence, never said that al-Qaeda’s war on the United States and its allies had anything to do with his hatred for Western civilization, freedom, the people’s selection of leaders, alcohol, women’s rights, etc. Until his death, he remained, in public speech and private writings, motivated by his determination to defeat U.S.-led, Western political, military, and economic intervention in the Islamic world, and especially its readiness to defend whatever Israel does, and to protect and prolong the the criminal rule of numerous Arab tyrants. In 1996 and 2016, those who argue that bin Laden’s and al-Qaeda’s war is motivated by hatred for abstract ideas — such as democracy, liberty, humans rights, etc. — are simply prevaricating and, like Bush, Obama, and their advisers, hoping that Americans are too lazy to read the three tranches of documents noted above.
  • Bin Laden never was anything but enthusiastic about and thankful-to-Allah for the Arab Spring. He had always thought and written that Muslims would immediately move toward Islam, not secular democracy, if the Arab tyrants could be overthrown. When that happened, he repeatedly said that Arab Spring was a gift to Muslims from Allah, and there seems to have been no one in al-Qaeda that dissented from that view. Obama, Hillary Clinton, Biden, and Rice, most of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. and Western media, and the academy lied through their teeth when they said secular democracy was on the way in the Arab world and the Arab Spring was the death knell for al-Qaeda. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda rejoiced at the Arab Spring as a victory sent by God for the Muslims who had been brave enough to revolt, as well as for the mujahideen who had spent a quarter-century setting the stage. The Arab Spring caused bin Laden and al-Qaeda worry only because they were not confident that the victorious Muslims could form effective Sharia governments quickly enough to prevent counter-revolutions by the tyrants. This worry was well taken in regard to Egypt and, perhaps, Tunisia, and the jury is still out on the other Arab Spring states and the other Arab tyrants who have yet to fall, but will.
  • Bin Laden resolutely opposed any near-term attempt to recreate the Caliphate. Attributing this intention to him is another lie by those who refuse to understand — and often have political reasons for refusing — what al-Qaeda was and is about. This is not to say bin Laden did not want a Caliphate, because he certainly yearned for its reconstruction, but he only wanted to try it when the time was right. When would the time be right? Only when the United States had been driven from the Arab world by God’s will, the tenacity of the mujahideen, the U.S. government’s inability (or unwillingness?) to win a decisive military victory, and the national financial disaster that Washington’s never-ending, interventionist war on Islam would yield. Bin Laden warned his colleagues that any premature attempt to restore the Caliphate would be dismantled by U.S. military power — I think he meant air power knocking down infrastructure — and that it was an open question if the mass of Muslims would support a second bloody effort to do so. Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi must not have heard bin Laden’s advice, or, if he did, he ignored it, as the U.S., Western, Russian, Iranian, and other air forces are doing precisely that kind of destruction right now, although very far from murderously enough to eliminate the Islamists. Al-Baghdadi and his lieutenants appear to headed back to a victorious-in-the-future insurgency — air power cannot beat that — and, in the meantime, he and they can dwell on the fact that bin Laden was right, their caliphate-building was premature, and for now they are better advised to focus all they have on bleeding America, at home and abroad, both economically and in terms of civilian and military lives. If the status quo in U.S. foreign policy endures, they will win in that effort. But, for now, the only people who will miss the Caliphate are the pro-Israel, American Neoconservatives who have used it for more than decade to scare the citizenry into supporting their lust for unnecessary wars and their smug acceptance of dead and maimed young Americans.
  • Bin Laden never once thought, per the released documents, that the 9/11 attacks were a mistake, as some Western pundits and analysts argued during the recent anniversary of the raids, with one inexplicably describing it a “spectacular miscalculation.” The documents released so far prove that bin Laden considered the 9/11 attacks to be the key victory that Allah had given to al-Qaeda and Muslims. The attack got the U.S. military into an Islamic country where it could be bled and defeated more easily, and — bin Laden would say “all thanks to God — publicly proved its unintelligent strategy and resolute, politically correct impotency. That U.S. forces are there 15 years later, still bleeding and losing, is irrefutable evidence that bin Laden was right. Indeed, 9/11 was a marvelous two-for-one operation for AQ, for, without out it, U.S. forces would not be mired in Iraq today, fighting for the interests of Syria, Russia, and Iran. Defeating two U.S.-led, Western field armies and having the West firmly and publicly on the side of Shia Iran and Hizballah, now that is a lot of bang for the pittance AQ spent to run the 9/11 raids, a real “Allahhu Akbar” moment. One more thing, the released documents clearly show that bin Laden and his media team began planning for the celebration of 9/11’s tenth anniversary in the last months of 2010, and had contacted media outlets and found them willing to lend a hand. The U.S. Seals thankfully killed bin Laden before he could inflict that humiliation on America, but otherwise he died a complete success: Al Qaeda’s role as an indispensable vanguard group was complete and utterly successful; the jihad itself was self-sustaining and increasingly international; and the jihad’s most vital ally — unnecessary U.S. military interventionism — was alive and well and about to be unleashed again by Obama and Hillary Clinton, with Republican support, in Libya, Iraq, and Syria.

Bin Laden’s last words surely must have been “God is greatest!” And, wherever he is, bin Laden knows that, God willing, there is still another al-Qaeda shoe to fall on the United States.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.