As analysts pore over the captured computers and storage devices found at the Osama bin-Laden compound, they are beginning to unlock a treasure trove of information about the late terrorist leader and his al-Qaeda organization.
The verdict: Far from being a newbie, the world’s most-wanted criminal knew his way around a laptop, especially for an old guy.
U.S. forces brought five computers, 10 hard drives and about 100 storage devices out of the Islamabad suburb where bin-Laden was killed late Sunday. Initial reports that the location had no internet service appear to be true, though that apparently doesn’t mean the murderous madman wasn’t able to go online.
“Surveillance reveals that a man fitting bin-Laden’s description was often seen driving out of the compound to a Panera Bread located about a half-mile away that offered free wi-fi,” said one insider who asked to remain unnamed. “He’d sit outside in the parking lot with his netbook for hours at a time. One witness said he mostly seemed to be hanging out on Facebook, though information still stored in the machine show he also visited the occasional porn site, despite Panera’s stated policy against it.”
“The witness said he didn’t even go to the trouble of buying a cup of coffee, that he just sat there and poached the wireless,” the analyst said. “Truly, he was a man with no sense of ethical behavior.”
Among the discoveries made so far:
- Not surprisingly, bin-Laden was a big fan of the game Angry Birds. His IT staff had modified some of the features so that instead of launching baby birds against a house of sticks built by pigs, his version catapulted suicide bombers against soft Western targets like train stations, shopping malls and sporting venues. “His tech guys were very inventive and surprisingly responsive to their boss’s requests,” the insider said. “They knew that if they pulled the usual IT garbage of stalling and not returning emails, they’d be beheaded.”
- Bin-Laden used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of his extensive family, which included numerous wives and children, not to mention almost a hundred brothers and sisters and their families. “He had it set up in a way that makes us think he was competing with his brothers to have the most kids in the extended bin-Laden family. One bar chart he constructed showed him in third place, but the numbers were constantly changing, and it looks like he eventually turned the project over to an intern.”
- The hundred or more thumb drives captured by the Special Forces team held information about which of his aides had their thumbs cut off, according to Sharia law, for minor offenses around the compound. “If you stole someone’s lunch from the common refrigerator, or neglected to contribute to the coffee fund, this typically was punished by the removal of a finger,” sources said. “Bin-Laden could then pull out the thumb drives at performance review time, and go over these transgressions with the offenders. It not only affected their ability to grasp objects. It also affected their merit increases.”
- A PowerPoint presentation bin-Laden had prepared shows that he was indeed “franchising” his terror network throughout the world. But a surprising discovery revealed he also had plans for launching a fast-food sandwich franchise, to be called “O-Sammich.” “We found a very professional presentation he apparently put together for potential investors,” the analyst reported. “He used clip art and everything.”
- One of the cellphones captured in the raid was an iPhone. CIA forensics experts are still going through the data recorded in the phone’s memory, but can already report Osama played a lot of Words With Friends, the popular Scrabble-like crossword game. “The pattern of fingerprints on the touchscreen show he spent a lot of time dragging letters into play on the board,” sources reported. “It also reveals that he ate a lot of greasy Sammichs.”
- Bin-Laden was a big fan of YouTube, with his favorites being LOL cats, funny baby expressions, and videos of killer tornado outbreaks. He also enjoyed AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, which apparently made him feel better about his own complicated family life; EpicFail.com, which comforted him in the days after thwarted attacks by the Shoe Bomber, the Underwear Bomber and the Times Square Bomber; and Sporcle.com, a popular online trivia quiz. “He appeared to do especially well with geography questions,” said the source. “He could name every country in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, but he had a little more trouble with the Western Hemisphere. He kept getting Paraguay and Uruguay confused, for example.”
- His online banking account showed numerous transfers in and out of Swiss bank accounts over the years, and that he had made enough “Extra Points” with his debit card transactions to earn a $100 gift card, redeemable at any establishment in the Darden family of restaurants, including his favorite, Red Lobster. “Oh, how he loved their cheese biscuits,” revealed one Guantanamo detainee who disclosed the detail only after he underwent enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding.
- The architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. fashioned himself to be an aspiring screenwriter. His Word files contained the draft of a “fan fiction” treatment he was writing based on Fox’s popular TV hit “Glee.” “He knew there’d eventually be a ‘Glee’ movie, and he wanted to get in on the ground floor with Hollywood producers who would be shopping the concept to the major studios,” one insider said. “Those who have read it, though, called it amateurish at best, with many of the musical numbers replaced by hours of ululation.”
- An extensive collection of DVDs was also found in the compound. Some were training videos to be used in al-Qaeda camps, but there were also a surprising number of popular Western films, including boxed-set collections of the entire oeuvres of Nicolas Cage, Ben Stiller and Michael Caine. “Because of their size, these catalogs had to be kept in their own dedicated outbuilding at the back of the compound,” a source said. “Many of the security features found at the site — the 18-foot walls, the razor-wire fences, the security cameras — were really put in more to protect these DVDs than they were to protect the terrorist kingpin. He absolutely loved Nic Cage.”
“We expect that once our intelligence experts have combed through all the information, we’ll have an accurate picture of where we need to counter potential threats,” said a CIA official closely involved with recovering all the data. “Until then, we’d advise the public to avoid any rickety wooden structures built by pigs.”