A highlight from Bin Laden's secret letters. Testing times for Lebanon.


Presenter Tom spitzer, who's on an extended break. On this week's program, Osama bin Laden and a reevaluation of the world's most infamous yet ultimately failed terrorist leader. Analyst Nellie lahood has spent the last few years poring over thousands of files that make up bin Laden's now declassified personal papers and correspondence. In light of this new information, she suggests much of what we thought we knew about bin Laden and Al-Qaeda was misguided, misplaced, and in some cases, downright wrong. Then in the second half of the program, we turn our attention to Lebanon, the country is in Dire Straits on just about every indicator of metric you can imagine the situation has gone from bad to worse. To appraise us of just what is going on in Lebanon and what this week's election result there might mean for this struggling nation, I'll be joined from Beirut by Kim kutas, journalist writer, foreign correspondent, and non resident senior fellow at the Carnegie endowment for international peace. But first, to the bin Laden papers. An important new book has just been published and it offers fresh and revealing insights into Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. The release of his personal papers is a treasure trove for analysts and it adds layers to what we thought we knew about the world's most famous terrorist. Nellie lahood is the author of the bin Laden papers how the abbottabad raid revealed the truth about Al-Qaeda. Its leader and his family. It's published by Yale University press. Doctor lahood is a senior fellow in new America's international security program. Her research has focused really on the evolution and ideology of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State among her many qualifications and appointments, critically she has a PhD from the research school of social sciences at the Australian national university. Nellie, thanks so much for joining us on between the lines. Thank you for having me. I'm delighted to be on your program, Kylie. Now, Osama bin Laden's personal papers. This is an amazing story, just the getting of them. How did they end up in American hands? Well, the papers were recovered during the raid that killed bin Laden in May 2011. But there's a rich story behind the papers. The mission was supposed to be completed within 30 minutes. That's the field's mission. And that's because admiral mcraven, who oversaw the raid, had completed a study back in 1998, 1996, and his study explored 8 historical special operations missions. And he had concluded that time was of the essence, and that completing such missions should not exceed 30 minutes. And any delay equates with vulnerability. So this was part of this hill's training for the raid. And while the mission was underway and though the shields killed bin Laden before the 30 minutes was up, they still asked for extra time on the ground because they found computers and electronic gear on the second floor. immediately understood the potential invaluable intelligence, the computers could yield. And he gave the seals the go ahead. I reached out to him to inquire about the additional time on the ground. And he kindly let me know that 40 minutes or so he told the sales to wrap it up and about 8 minutes later, I did a cost. So the reasons we have these papers is thanks to the additional perilous 18 minutes of this seal spent in the compound. So what did they retrieve exactly, Nelly? How much did they retrieve? What we have really is an extensive collection. What happened is that they've been declassifying these papers since 2012. But in November 2017, the CIA declassified thousands of files and massive volume. And these consisted of text audio and video files. I must have clicked on thousands of files before I determined that the text files were the most important. And with the help of two such assistants, we systematically went through all the text files, there are nearly 97,000 files. Most of them turned out to be new newspaper articles and other materials that are publicly available. But within the text file, the text files will also found Al-Qaeda's internal communications nearly 6000 Arabic pages. Now as a long-term scholar and researcher into terrorism and the history of Al-Qaeda and the keep personalities, what was it like for you when you first started looking through these documents? Well, we're talking here about Al-Qaeda's internal communications. These were Al-Qaeda's closely guarded secrets. They were never meant for public consumption. So from my perspective and in view of my research background, there is nothing more unique to study. The history of Al-Qaeda pushed 9 11 as it was being made by bin Laden and those in his closest orbit. There's nothing like it. So it is interesting, isn't it? Because of some bin Laden was famously obsessed by secrecy and his own security. I mean, he didn't use email, the Internet, mobile phones.

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