Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh opened a big can of pushback if not whoopass from government sources, named and unnamed, when he reported that just about every claim about the raid that took Osama bin Laden’s life was a lie. One of Hersh’s key contentions would make the whole enterprise nothing but revenge. His claim was that bin Laden was not really directing Al Qaeda from his Pakistani hidey-hole because he was in fact a prisoner, because he was too ill and because Al Qaeda was already effectively defunct.
In addition to the rising chorus of current and former government officials denying Hersh’s narrative, a result has been putting the declassification and release of documents seized in the raid on the hurry-up, because Hersh claimed there were no such documents.
The first tranche of documents contains enough Al Qaeda business to indicate that either Hersh is wrong or the documents themselves are part of the most elaborate hoax since the Reichstag Fire.
One is an Arabic form for potential recruits, each page of which contains a watermark that translates, “The Security Committee – al-Qa’ida Organization” and “O ye people of faith, be vigilant.”
The form begins “In the name of Allah the compassionate and merciful…” and proceeds with prosaic details—write clearly, tell the truth, the information is confidential—and ends with an admonition that if you have any other issue to discuss “please tell your direct brother supervisor.”
Oh, and you are informed in Arabic that if you don’t speak Arabic “please answer in the language that you know.”
You then give your name and your nom de guerre. You provide today’s date (Hijri) and today’s date (A.D.). I guess they haven’t caught on to C.E. yet.
After you are asked to state your education level, “When did Almighty Allah bless you with this gift?”
Then your religious bona fides. “How much of the holy Qur’an have you memorized? Did you study Shari’a? Who was your instructor? Which shaykhs do you listen to or read often? Which shaykhs or Muslim dignitaries do you know?”
It goes into your experience with jihad, your hobbies, your military experience, and your criminal history.
The open-ended questions are scarce, but here is one: “What objectives would you like to accomplish on your jihad path?”
Then it gets to brass tacks: “Do you wish to execute a suicide operation? Who should we contact in case you become a martyr?”
The next of kin question is last, and the form ends, “Praise Allah, Lord of all worlds.”
This has just been a summary of a document that is almost as detailed as the one I had to complete for my top-secret security clearance in the USAF.
I guess Al Qaeda can’t be too careful. You can’t let just any riffraff put on a suicide vest, right?