cia bin laden files

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CIA suspends access to bin Laden files after internet goes wild

No word on when the files will be made available again.


David Britton

Internet Culture

Posted on Nov 2, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 12:28 pm CDT

It was fun while it lasted, but now the CIA has, at least temporarily, suspended access to the Osama bin Laden computer files they briefly made available for the first time on Wednesday.

The files came from bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and while certain bits of information had been made public before, Wednesday’s release of nearly 470,000 files was massive, to say the least. It contained everything from text documents, to images, to full movies. Clicking on the link that previously took users to a full list of the files now briefly displays a message saying “The Abbottabad files are temporarily unavailable pending resolution of a technical issue. We are working to make the material available again as soon as possible.” Users are then redirected back to the CIA’s website.

Although the files were available for less than 24 hours, that didn’t keep Twitter from finding some hidden gems. In addition to a truly surprising number of Tom and Jerry cartoons, files found on the bin Laden’s computer included:

A picture of Steve Ballmer talking about the Zune:

A Borat gif.

A teeny tiny Shakira.

And Grand Theft Auto.

Which does give some credence to the idea that video games cause violent behavior.

Other things people found included one of the Ice Age movies, some funny cat videos, several episodes of a Jackie Chan cartoon, the “Charlie Bit My Finger” video, and a short clip of Jennifer Lopez welcoming people to her website.

In fact, it’s possible one of the “technical” problems the CIA is dealing with is the removal of copyrighted material. Since the actual files were being made available to the public, any video or game bin Laden had was now free for anyone to download. The CIA even provided a list of some of the titles that had been removed due to copyright issues.

  • Antz
  • Batman Gotham Knight
  • BBC Great Wildlife Moments
  • Biography – Osama bin Laden
  • Cars
  • Chicken Little
  • CNN Presents: World’s Most Wanted
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Heroes of Tomorrow
  • Home on the Range
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
  • In the Footsteps of bin Laden – CNN
  • National Geographic: Kung Fu Killers
  • National Geographic: Inside the Green Berets
  • National Geographic: Predators at War
  • National Geographic: World’s Worst Venom
  • Peru Civilization
  • Resident Evil
  • Storm Rider – Clash of the Evils
  • The Kremlin from Inside
  • The Story of India
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Where in the World is Osama bin Laden

It should be pointed that since his family was living with him, it’s likely that many of the items were for them. It also looks like entire webpages were often being downloaded, which would include every tiny little image, including small buttons and lines. It’s possible we’re far more aware of what was on bin Laden’s computer than he ever was. He may just not be that savvy an internet user.

You might have also noticed that bin Laden was, maybe not surprisingly, super into videos about himself. Even if he was coming from a narcissistic point of view, it does make sense that he would want to know how he was being portrayed in America.

What might be more surprising is that bin Laden apparently watched Loose Change, a series of films suggesting 9/11 was an inside job.

We’ll never know if he was laughing or crying.

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*First Published: Nov 2, 2017, 7:43 am CDT