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2 November 2017updated 01 Jul 2021 1:16pm

What we learned about Osama bin Laden from the contents of his computer

A look into the psyche of what was once the world’s most wanted man. 

By Amelia Tait

The CIA has released nearly half a million files that were seized in the 2011 raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound. Videos, audio files, images, and documents are among the thousands of things taken from the al-Qaeda founder’s computer, which the CIA has now released “in the interest[s] of transparency and to enhance public understanding of al-Qaeda and its former leader.”

A lot of these files are the sort of horrific garbage you would expect (shock twist as bin Laden enjoys beheading videos), and as such don’t enhance any public understanding at all. But some files are far more telling than others. Below is a genuine list of things found on bin Laden’s computer, with added commentary about what each file reveals. Remember, the eyes are the window into the soul, but Windows is the window into the deepest, darkest bits underneath your soul that you like to keep hidden.



Osama bin Laden had a truly twisted mind, evident in his preference of 1998’s Antz over 1998’s far superior A Bug’s Life.


No matter how much time you have to kill in a compound, alternating your finger over the first two keys you see is always preferable to saving files under proper names.

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Loose Change

The fact Osama bin Laden had a copy of a conspiracy theory documentary that purports that Bush did 9/11 proves one thing and one thing only. Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.

Chicken Little

He got really lonely in those last few days.


_booby_1.jpeg did not live up to the hype.

Charlie Bit My Finger

Terrorists, they’re just like us!

MS Clipart depicting 9/11

One of the planes that hit the trade centre towers was flight number: Q33NY

Open a new Word document and type in capital letters Q33NY

Click on Font Style and select “Wingdings”. You will then will be amazed!!

Mr Bean

Bin Laden? More like Bin Laughin’

The Yahoo logo

Backwards, medieval thinking extends to a choice of search engines.

28 crocheting tutorials

A professor in the world’s most preeminent crocheting school should not have rejected that application. 


He really was evil.


In all seriousness, it’s not possible to know how many of these files were downloaded and used by bin Laden as opposed to how many belonged to other people in his compound. And as Lily Hay Newman at WIRED points out, we shouldn’t lose sight of the real, important revelations in the document dump. 

Also, you should clear your hard drive. 

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