On Wednesday the CIA released hundreds of thousands of files recovered in the 2011 raid in Pakistan during which Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed. These documents — which include bin Laden’s personal journal, and video and audio files from his personal computer — are just the latest batch the intelligence community has declassified for the public in the years since the operation. And with that much information recovered, some of it is bound to be … not so dark and serious.
The thousands of computer files listed on the CIA site are extensive and overwhelming. But if you do a cursory scan of some of these files names, there are some video files that could stick out: notably, a link to a 2007 viral video titled “Charlie bit my finger.”
If you say you’re not familiar with the British brothers that took over YouTube a decade ago, you’re lying. This isn’t the only normal, care-free content bin Laden had lying around. There’s TV episodes featuring Jackie Chan, Tom and Jerry, and the trailer for Avatar, just to name a few. The CIA did not publish a number of files that contain (innocuous) copyrighted material, and also notably withheld bin Ladin’s widely reported porn collection, which has been subject to extremely high public demand and many Freedom of Information requests.
The CIA says it released the additional files Wednesday “in the interest of transparency and to enhance public understanding of al-Qa’ida.” It’s interesting to note that a law back in 2014 mandated national intelligence officials review the bin Laden files and make available any declassified documents, while providing reasoning for all the documents that remained classified — all within four months of the bill becoming a law. But the first documents weren’t made public until 2015, and even at this point there are still more documents that haven’t been publicly disclosed.
Armed U.S. forces carried out their operation in May 2011, storming bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan and killing the head of the Islamist terrorist organization. Previously published files (from 2015, 2016, and earlier in 2017) are available online in a federal collection called Bin Laden’s Bookshelf.
If you liked this article, check out this video where the CIA once illegally drugged thousands of U.S. and Canadian citizens.