Bin Laden documents: Media strategist and critic
May 3rd, 2012
06:50 PM ET

Bin Laden documents: Media strategist and critic

By Jamie Crawford

The 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks provided al Qaeda a platform from which to reshape its image in the global media, Osama bin Laden wrote in documents recovered from his compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan. The documents provide a glimpse of the al Qaeda leader as media opportunist and critic.

"We need to benefit from this (anniversary) and get our messages to the Muslims and celebrate our victory that they achieved," bin Laden wrote to his confidant and al Qaeda operative Atiyya Abdul Rahman in October 2010. "We will have a lot to show, therefore we should not depend on one media outlet to cover the event."

Read: Security Clearance's coverage of the Osama bin Laden documents

In his letter, bin Laden said his group should contact both the Arabic and English speaking networks of Al Jazeera if they were interested, and to cooperate in their coverage of the anniversary. But the familiar outlets were not the only targets of his message.

"We should also look for an American channel that can be close to being unbiased, such as CBS, or other channel that has political motives" that make it interested in discussing al Qaeda. "Then we can send to the channel the materials that we want the Americans to see."

Having taped a specific message to the United States on the 9/11 anniversary, bin Laden wrote of his hope for the message "to be translated to English and to be delivered to the Al Jazeera channel prior to the anniversary of 9/11 to be broadcasted during it."

The letters also display a savvy with the timing of announcements directed at the United States.

In one of his letters to Rahman, bin Laden enclosed a computer chip that contained a "statement to the American people" that he wanted delivered to various news organizations, including an American outlet.

"Tell the brothers that this statement should be broadcast before the American congressional election," he wrote. "Tell the three channels that we want to broadcast the statement on October 29. If the channels do not broadcast the statements, the brothers should be ready to broadcast it on the Internet on October 30."

The terror leader told Rahman to speak with Adam Gadahn, the American-born al Qaeda spokesman, for specifics about which American outlet to reach out to.

In a separate letter released Thursday, Gadahn's opinions of American media were on display.

"From the professional point of view," Gadahn wrote to the unknown recipient, "they are all on one level - except (Fox News) Channel which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks neutrality, too." Gadahn wrote that CNN "seems to be in cooperation with the government more than the others" but praised its Arabic language website.

"I used to think MSNBC channel may be good and neutral a bit, but it has lately fired two of the most famous journalists."

Gadahn lamented about Al Jazeera following the requirements and restrictions that Western media observe with the broadcast of al Qaeda statements.

Beyond savvy and strategy, bin Laden's take on the media also contained a fair dose of criticism throughout the 17 documents released.

"The enemies have focused the bulk of their campaign against the Islamic world (and) the Arabs," bin Laden wrote, citing BBC's Arabic service as being the second-largest behind its English service. "This, when Arabs represent 2.5% of the world's population, while other people, including China by itself, represent a fifth of the world's population."

Even Al Jazeera came in for criticism from bin Laden because a host on one of its shows occasionally used improper language, in his opinion.

But for all its faults in the eyes of al Qaeda, Al Jazeera was seen as a network not to upset.

Al Jazeera "has a different agenda than ours," a letter believed to be authored by bin Laden stated. "It would be better for us to stay neutral, even though this channel sometimes commits mistakes against us. These mistakes are limited, and if we confront it, Al Jazeera will raise propaganda against us and could hurt our image within the Muslim world."

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  22. Losser

    President Obama did a wonderful job in manikg this successful! This president is very effective and loves justice. He has made America proud once again. I will vote for him ten times over and over again! Bin laden was the leader of a terrible organization. They killed innocent people all over the world! I am happy about this.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:16 am | Reply
  23. eric james

    Jaime Crawford's article about OBL's media savy is very informative, scary and laughable... when you read even our brutal enemies think FOX news is nothing more than beautiful blond pundits and ideolog pitchmen like Hannity and Bill "O" slanting so far right that even their valid points of view are not taken seriously.

    Informative in the sense that some Americans may be led to believe that because of OBL's propensity to reside in caves without modern luxuries and wears what appeared to be an XXL potato sack that he does not understand our media culture and how it affects his cause. In reality he probably understood it better than most Americans. He had knowledge of the firing of 2 prominent journalists from MSNBC, one without a doubt being Keith Olberman who is as smart, innovative and controversial journalist as there is in the business. Just ask Al Gore....His accurate perception of FOX, please see my comments in the opening paragraph. Finally is his critique of the AL J network. He had a great understanding of which American media outlet could pontificate his message without us and the organization even realizing it.

    Scary in the sense that what this brutal man did on 9/11 and continued to try and do again was nothing that most semi intelligent leaders with a message, an audience and a method to deliver his message could replicate in the future.

    As a whole the American public continues to under estimate our enemies and their capabilities. Because of this ignorance we will unfortunatley not have to wait long for another OBL to surface again.

    May 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  24. Max Brooks

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    May 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Reply
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  25. jryan

    The last thing to go through Bin Laden's mind was an American made bullet, fired from an American made gun, wielded by an American special forces operative, under the order of America's President, for the American people. Irony there.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Reply
    • Evil Socialist

      Financed (in part) by those dirty commies, the Chinese.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  26. habeas corpus

    hey us government produce the body

    proof or it didnt happen

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    especially after parading saddam and gaddafhis corpse for everyone to see

    May 6, 2012 at 7:18 am | Reply
    • JAB62

      Hey habeas corpus,
      Maybe you should just go ask his wives whether he's dead or not.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:23 am | Reply
  27. Jaimie

    Always amazes me how muslim extremist align themselves with the muslim religion and then divide themselves from the rest of the world. Its actually the muslim extremist against peaceful loving muslims and the rest of the world.

    May 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • mannycl

      There is no such a thing as 'peaceful loving muslims'. They are all murderers who want to bring their barbarian religion to all four corners of the world.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:42 am | Reply
      • /////////////

        Another mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragger proudly shows the rest of us how stupid he is. Well done!

        May 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  28. Hahahahahaha

    Now where is the sheep sex channel? Hahahahahahaha

    May 4, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Reply
    • :)

      Thanks for the laughs.

      May 4, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  29. t3chn0ph0b3

    I hear someone claims to have found Bin Laden's body. Gross.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  30. BigdaddyUSA

    Your image looks good now!

    May 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  31. rick

    The truth is out. Bin Laden was afraid of Al Jazeera!. The pen is mightier than the sword!

    May 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  32. Tim Rigney

    10 Kill Bin Laden
    20 Go To 10
    30 Kill Bin Laden
    40 Go To 30
    50 End.


    May 4, 2012 at 9:36 am | Reply
    • Bobington

      You created an infinite loop between 10 and 20 therefore 30, 40 and 50 would happen. Plus if you kill Bin Laden how can you do it again?

      May 4, 2012 at 10:08 am | Reply
      • Bobington

        Oops. i meant to say "would never happen"

        May 4, 2012 at 10:08 am |
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      You forgot "Hello World"!

      May 4, 2012 at 11:16 am | Reply
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      May 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  33. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Government Insider Says George W. Bush Planned and Authorized the 9/11 Attacks...

    Stanley Hilton was a senior adviser to Sen Bob Dole and he has represented hundreds of families of 9/11 victims in a law suit against GWB for treason and mass murder!

    Go to for full details!

    Better properly vet and know the character and personality of your republican candidates before you cast your vote! Just remember its your future and your children's future at stake!

    May 4, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
    • Bobington

      Your tinfoil hat appears to have a tear in it. You should fix that before the government starts to steal your thoughts.

      May 4, 2012 at 10:10 am | Reply
      • :)

        Hey!, a 'tin-foil hat' analogy. How original. Whattaya gonna do for an encore – tell him to stop drinking the Kool-Aid?

        May 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • John

      Ah a Kool-Aid analogy – what are YOU going to do for an encore?

      May 5, 2012 at 11:49 am | Reply
      • :)

        I see that comprehensions not your thing.

        May 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  34. Mark

    Got rid of Bin Laden. Now we need to deal a big blow to the Republican party and their leaders Osama Big Money.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:51 am | Reply
  35. michaelfury

    "The 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks" was the date of the Toronto Hearings. But CNN didn't tell you about them, did it?

    May 4, 2012 at 7:46 am | Reply
  36. kuda_dog

    Isaac is a fraud. Some a$$hole just trying to get Americans to hate Israel. Ignore his ignorant comments and he will go back to way hung his internet porn in his mom's garage.

    May 4, 2012 at 6:21 am | Reply
    • kuda_dog

      That is "watching porn". Damn spellchecker.

      May 4, 2012 at 6:23 am | Reply
  37. RIP

    The man is dead the great fishes had already forgotten the smell and the taste of his fleash. Let his memories be burried with him in the deep sea.

    May 4, 2012 at 4:13 am | Reply
  38. Jackie

    These comments are almost as retarded as Reddit

    May 4, 2012 at 1:28 am | Reply
  39. Issac

    Israel is the most endangered, we need aid NOW!!



    Israel comes first.

    If the Arab race has to be destroyed to prevent another Jewish slaughter, so be it.

    In case you didn't get the message the first time..

    May 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Reply
    • :)

      I see that your old-age home in Florida has internet. How lovely.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  40. Dad Clark

    Osama obama bin laden was on the payroll in the 80's. The MEEK shall inherit the earth, betcha. Not the new world disorder

    May 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
    • Bangash

      He is still, though not active but after Abbottabad operation, a dormant character in US conceived New World Order or in older version The Great Game, as no body here believe in what USA force the world to believe. Osama was was and is CIA guy and he has safely been shifted to USA after a turn in his role in the US staged drama in this region. After all Osama was the prime suspect in the 9/11 then why CIA remained hesitant in showing his dead body to the world ?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:41 am | Reply
    • Utoy

      Two things that I don't like about it from an arilcte I read is that he was identified using facial recognition and when asked if they had confirmed a dna test they didn't answer. 2nd that due to islamic beliefs, his body was already buried at sea.Interesting tidbit I heard on the radio today was that both bin laden and hitler were both announced dead on May 1st.Overall, I hope that SEAL Team Six really did get the kill and that this isn't a early celebration and that the dna test comes back negative.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  41. Dookey flavored kool aid

    Guess its all barry can say, he was pres when laden was allegedly killed. All these bin laden headlines, oh hail barry the hero, NOT! Everything he does proves hes the worst enemy america has had in a long time. ROMNEY 2012!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Reply
    • fandancy

      Did you allegedly make it through the 3rd grade?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Reply
      • :)

        Only when he's on top of one.

        May 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  42. Everett Wallace

    HEY TERRORISTS! this is what you have come to just sitting waiting wondering will it be a drone that kills me, will it be a special ops team that kills me or just maybe just maybe I'm losing my mind, always sounds like footsteps, always sounds like the sound of a weapon (44 magnum) just sayin being cocked next to my temple no the front of my fohead. Then all of a suDDen BOOM! ROCK A BYE BABY complete blackness. This is the reality of what happens when you Mess with the United States and Allies. Now if you take a shower, brush your nasty mouth, shave, burn your religion and get a new outfit nothin expensive sweats or shorts t-shirt fine some tennis shoes. We might be able to work somthin out.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Aroz

      Best get back to your Playstation.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:45 am | Reply
  43. RabbitRABBIT

    Issac, if your comment is what Israelis truly believe then they have become the new Nazis. Destroy and entire race because of the actions of some of them???!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
    • Issac

      Yes sir. Yahweh permits the killing of hostile goyim, when prescribed legal by Rabbinical authority

      The Arab and Persian peoples are candidates for ceremonial ethnic purification.

      The Torah is the law if Israel.

      And Israel comes first.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Reply
      • t3chn0ph0b3

        Fight genocide with genocide, I always say.

        May 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  44. Issac

    Israel is the most endangered, we need aid NOW!!



    Israel comes first.

    If the Arab race has to be destroyed to prevent another Jewish slaughter, so be it.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Reply
    • FT3 (SS)

      I can't tell if you are trolling, or just stupid...

      May 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Reply

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