US: Osama bin Laden left a will indicating that he had about $US29 million (about $40 million) in Sudan, with detailed instructions to “spend all the money I have left” continuing the global terror campaign he had led, according to newly released documents recovered by the US from the compound in Pakistan where the al-Qaeda chief was killed in 2011.
The handwritten will and 112 other documents were released on Tuesday by the office of the Director of National Intelligence – a collection that also includes letters to subordinates in al-Qaeda, messages from followers willing to carry out suicide attacks, and screeds on issues including bin Laden’s conviction that the US and Iran were poised for war.
The files reinforce the sense that bin Laden was both increasingly anxious about security amid an escalating campaign of CIA drone strikes as the decade-long hunt for the al-Qaeda leader wore on. He also appeared increasingly disconnected from how much his organisation had been degraded, calling on deputies to mount operations and fill positions even as they pleaded that they lacked capable recruits.
Even so, the pages reinforce the extent to which bin Laden continued to try to exercise authority over al-Qaeda from the high-walled compound in Abbottabad where he was ultimately killed in a helicopter raid by US Navy SEALS in 2011.
His will, which is not dated and was translated by US intelligence analysts, underscores his apparent hope that al-Qaeda would carry on with the mission he set long after his demise. “I, Usama bin Muhammad ‘Awadh Bin ‘Abud Bin Laden, have signed below. . .” the document begins.
Although it refers to $US29 million in Sudan, it is not clear where that money was being kept – whether in cash, banks or property. Bin Laden was the scion of a family that made a vast fortune in construction projects for the Saudi royal family, although he was later expelled from that country and fled to Sudan.
He appeals to his relatives who might also seek claim to that fortune to “obey my will and to spend all the money that I have left in Sudan on jihad”. He goes on to make arrangements for smaller disbursements to relatives and subordinates, including “200,000 riyals (about $74,000) for my sisters Maryam, Iman, and Atidal”.
It is not clear what became of bin Laden’s fortune, although the US and other governments devoted enormous energies to seizing al-Qaeda funds and disrupting its financial support networks.
Other documents in the latest trove include a lengthy draft of a speech in which bin Laden predicts a costly war between the US and Iran. “Its drums are beating in the east and west, about the third world war that the leader of the White House is threatening our region with, and he has specified Iran and its allies,” the undated document says.
Tuesday’s disclosures follow two previous releases from the massive trove of bin Laden files found at his hiding place in Pakistan. A DNI spokesman said that it is “important that the documents collected at bin Laden’s compound be made available to the public”