What treasures will the US really find on bin Laden's hard disk?
Rants? For sure. Porn? Maybe. Intelligence? Unlikely
Save us from another boring wedding...
Given the deliberate isolation of the Bin Laden home from any form of electronic communication which might have been intercepted, the recovered computers are likely only to contain material coming in and out by courier on thumb drives or CDs. Materials, and documents – perhaps even early draft edicts exchanged with As-Sahab (The Clouds), al Qaeda's sophisticated media arm – are likely to be in the haul. They may be as exciting to read now as the first draft of a 2004 Downing Street press release.
The children living in hiding with their father, like others of their age, may have enjoyed appropriate computer games. The last 10 years have seen a handful of militant Islamic mutations of standard games distributed in the Middle East to help win hearts and minds.
So dad may well have provided the kids with shoot-em-ups to prepare them for their future such as "Bush Capturing" in which Islamic soldier heroes emerge from dusty landscapes to take final shots at George Bush or Tony Blair. Or, in AQ's favoured electronic version of Risk, the year is 2214, the Caliphate has taken over the planet and the special forces of the Prophet are hunting down and eliminating the last remnants of Christian terror gangs.
Terror cases in Britain and elsewhere have established that the Arabic word "nikah", meaning wedding, has been commonly been used in email communications by al Qaeda supporters as a code for "attack". In a north of England case six months ago, the court was told that MI5 had intercepted messages to and from a "Sohaib" in Pakistan, using the Yahoo address, firstname.lastname@example.org. US agencies found that "Sohaib" was also in communication with alleged plotters in the United States.
When in April 2009 a Pakistani student sneaked into a Manchester internet cafe, logged into Yahoo!, and mailed Pakistan to say that his "nikah" was now under way, anti-terror planners assumed that a bomb attack on Manchester was imminent, and moved in at once.
What will the CIA to tell the President if references to his future "nikahs" are now found in the computer spoil from the Bin Laden lair?
"We have saved the world from a fearful fate, Mr President."
Another wife. More kids.
But will we be told? Or fed propaganda instead? ®