New Documents Reveal Just How Paranoid Osama Bin Laden Was


Newly released documents have revealed how paranoid Osama bin Laden became while the U.S. hunted him.

Intelligence documents reviewed by Reuters have revealed that the terrorist group’s commanders were growing increasingly worried about spies in their midst, drones in the air and secret tracking devices reporting their movements as the U.S.-led coalition closed in on bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout.

U.S. intelligence agencies translated the stash of 113 documents which are dated between 2009 and 2011, and have just now been declassified and made public by Reuters.


The documents reveal that while al Qaeda was unwavering in its commitment to global jihad, its core leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan were under pressure on multiple fronts.

It’s known that drone strikes ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama broke al Qaeda’s original leadership, eventually leading to bin Laden’s death when U.S. Navy SEALs stormed his compound on May 2, 2011. However, in the years since, the organisation hasn’t broken up and remains embedded in Afghanistan and North Africa, although its ideological rival, Islamic State, has grown.

In one document, bin Laden orders al Qaeda members holding an Afghan hostage to be alert for possible tracking technology attached to the ransom payment. In a letter he writes: “It is important to get rid of the suitcase in which the funds are delivered, due to the possibility of it having a tracking chip in it.”

Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser and purported successor Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview in Afghanistan, Barack ObamaWikimedia

The al Qaeda chief was also wary of U.S. drones patrolling the skies, warning the negotiators not to leave their house in the Pakistani city of Peshawar ‘except on a cloudy overcast day.’

In a May 11, 2010 letter to his now deceased second-in-command, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, bin Laden cautioned him for arranging an interview with al Jazeera journalist Ahmad Zaidan, claiming that America could track his movements through devices implanted in his equipment, or by satellite.

He wrote:

You must keep in mind the possibility, however, slight, that journalists can be under surveillance that neither we nor they can perceive, either on the ground or via satellite.


In fact Bin Laden became so paranoid that he was even worried over his wife’s visit to a dentist while in Iran, claiming that a tracking chip ‘about the length of a grain of wheat’ could have been implanted with her dental filling.

The documents also reveal bin Laden was out of touch with his organisation, planning a media campaign to capitalise on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and wanted to expand al Qaeda’s reach in the U.S. despite the organisation being effectively crippled by poor leadership.