Eight documents recently released from the archive captured in Abbottabad during the raid on Usama bin Laden are allowing us to reexamine views of al-Qaeda (AQ). Together with seventeen previously released documents, we now have 25 pieces of evidence—from a treasure trove of “millions”—to understand AQ in its own words.
A few weeks ago, documents seized during the 2011 raid that killed Usama Bin Ladin were released to the public for the first time. While only a tiny fraction of the total number captured in Abbottabad, the newly available documents offer a rare opportunity to reexamine a series of assumptions and conclusions about al-Qaeda (AQ), Bin Laden, and the U.S. war with AQ.
The murder of twenty-one Christians in Libya by an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) has brought the sad decline of that country back to international attention. A few months ago, I noted that the ongoing collapse of Libya was not random chaos, nor was it just the result of “militancy” or a lack of governance; rather there was purposeful action by al-Qaeda (AQ)-linked groups pushing the country in a direction that favors violent extremism.
There is a great deal of recent news from Syria, most of it bad. But first, the one bright spot: Kobani, a large city on the border with Turkey that has been under siege by the Islamic State (IS) for several months, has been liberated. A combination of U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish boots on the ground forced IS forces to abandon their attempt to take the city, although not before murdering hundreds (if not thousands) and forcing hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee into Turkey.
The Islamic State’s (IS) decision to burn alive the captured Jordanian pilot, Mu’adh al-Kasasibah, has sent shock waves around the world. In addition to the sheer brutality of the act, the decision by IS to distribute a video of their atrocity, and the fact that ordinary people in Raqqa—including children—were forced to watch his death, are all causes for horror and condemnation. Even some radical clerics—like Salman al-‘Awdah—have reacted with disgust and argued that burning people alive is forbidden by Islamic law (Shariah).