Al Qaeda’s surprise attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were only an introduction to what the militant group’s deceased leader Osama bin Laden had planned for the U.S. His hatred of the western world ran deep. Documents that were seized a decade ago when U.S. Navy Seals put bin Laden on ice have just recently been translated, and it’s a darn good thing they got him when they did.
Bin Laden was killed in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the CIA released the recovered documents, minus any translations. Considering how the source of the problem had already been eliminated the thousands of documents were of no priority.
Islamic scholar Nelly Lahoud has been diligently deciphering the documents since their release. A culmination of various Mid-Eastern dialects has made the chore tedious at best.
Bin Laden had been so giddy over the success of 9/11 that he wanted to recreate the same scenario elsewhere. Only this time he wanted to charter private planes instead of hijacking them.
Realizing the challenges this might present, it was suggested that Al Qaeda supporters in the U.S. could start derailing trains while the details were being hashed out. He issued a letter with explicit instructions on the best way to achieve this, and as one might assume, Amtrak was high on the list.
According to Lahoud, “He wanted to have 12 meters of steel rail removed so that, this way, the train could be derailed.” This method would assure the greatest number of casualties.
Few people realize that bin Laden had earned a civil engineering degree from King Abdul Aziz University in Jiddah. The letter went into full detail concerning the proper tools to be used to remove the rails.
Lahoud said, “We find him explaining the simple toolkit that they could use. You know, he said, ‘You could use a compressor. You could use a smelting iron tool.’”
Lahoud found an interesting letter from one of bin Laden’s young associates by the name of Tawfiq. Though they’d pulled off 9/11, the group was now severely handicapped by its leader being forced to hide in caves and having to continually change locations.
The letter said that “The weakness, failure, and aimlessness that befell us were harrowing. We Muslims were defiled and desecrated. Our state was ripped asunder, our lands were occupied, our resources were plundered.”
Tawfiq must have been fairly close to bin Laden because Lahoud said he “actually warns [bin Laden], that ‘I’m gonna tell you the truth as it is. And I know that some of the brothers here are not telling you everything in detail because they don’t want to upset you, particularly because of the delicate situations in which you find yourself with.’”
By 2006, Al Qaeda’s finances had been all but depleted. The entire group was operating on just $200,000 and that was going quickly. But this didn’t deter Bin Laden from creating new plans of attack. He remained optimistic.
Around 2010 is when bin Laden redirected his eyesight toward oil tankers. If he could create enough fear along the routes of Africa and the Middle East it would have a tragic impact on the U.S., plus his guys could do this closer to home to save some traveling expenses.
In one of the documents, Lahoud said, “He says, ‘It does not escape you, the importance of oil for the industrialized economy today. And it is similar to blood for human beings. So, if you cause somebody to bleed excessively, even if you don’t kill him you will at least weaken him,’”
She clarified what that meant by saying, “And that’s– he really– what he really wanted to do to the American economy.”
On May 2, 2011, Navy Seals shot bin Laden’s face off when they located the cave he was hiding in. Repeat. It’s a darn good thing they got him when they did.