Getting Inside Bin Laden’s Head
Nelly Lahoud tells us how she pored through his captured papers with some surprising results
For years U.S. intelligence portrayed Osama bin Laden as the driving force behind post-9/11 terrorist attacks and the guiding hand behind the cancer-like spread of jihadi cells in a globe-circling belt across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. In truth, Al Qaeda’s leader was mostly isolated and virtually incommunicado in his now infamous compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
We know this for certain now because Nelly Lahoud, an expert on Islamist terrorism at New America, a Washington-based think tank, spent years poring through the private papers of bin Laden captured by U.S. Navy SEALs in their May 2011 raid, some 470,000 documents in all released so far. The result was The Bin Laden Papers: How the Abbottabad Raid Revealed the Truth about Al-Qaeda, Its Leader and His Family, published last month by Yale University Press.
Bin Laden did come up with the original idea for flying planes into the World Trade Center Towers, Lahoud told SpyTalk podcast co-host Jeanne Meserve in a wide…