November 1, 2017 | Press Release

FDD Scholars Secure an Advance Look at bin Laden Documents Released Today by the CIA

Washington, D.C., Nov. 1, 2017 – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies has obtained the first-ever images of an adult Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden, who is being groomed as a leader of al Qaeda. The images are among those found in a large cache of documents collected from the Pakistan compound of Osama bin Laden following a raid by U.S. Special Forces on May 2, 2011.

FDD experts were given an advance opportunity to preview the documents, images, and audio and video files released today by the Central Intelligence Agency relating to Iran, Saudi Arabia, the insurgency in Iraq, al Qaeda leadership, and more. FDD Senior Fellows Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio have summarized FDD’s findings thus far in FDD’s Long War Journal.

The story by Joscelyn and Roggio includes:

  • Video of Hamza bin Laden’s wedding (al Qaeda has only used one publicly available photo of Hamza bin Laden as a small child).
  • Details from the never-before-seen personal journal of Osama bin Laden, obtained by FDD.
  • Evidence that Osama bin Laden continued to act an operational commander in the last year of his life, contradicting analysis that he had removed himself from those responsibilities.
  • Evidence of Iran’s support of al Qaeda’s war with the United States.

“These documents are vital for understanding the history of al Qaeda and provide new insights into the history of the Islamic State and its predecessor organizations,” said Joscelyn, adding that the documents clearly show a connection between both Iran and ISIS and the al Qaeda leadership.

The document cache reviewed by FDD scholars includes 6,681 audio files, 10,256 video files, 72,195 images, and 18,367 documents. The files do not include the vast amount of pornography found in the Abbottabad compound, certain copyrighted material, and other files deemed still operationally sensitive.

Joscelyn and Roggio, editors of FDD’s Long War Journal, have been calling for the release of the documents since the raid in which bin Laden was killed more than six years ago. (See FDD Long War Journal stories here, here and here.) The U.S. government has previously released documents from bin Laden’s secret cache on four occasions, totaling several hundred files. Today’s release contains a much larger set of valuable files.

“These documents will go a long way to help fill in some of the blanks we still have about al Qaeda’s leadership,” Roggio said. “We have reported on the previous releases of the documents seized from bin Laden's compound and have learned a great deal about al Qaeda’s ties to the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and its relationships with Iran and Pakistan. These documents will keep us busy for years to come.”

FDD Senior Vice President Jonathan Schanzer lauded the CIA decision to release these documents.

“The Central Intelligence Agency has done the right thing here by releasing these documents. We know that Director Pompeo took a personal interest in this effort,” Schanzer said.

“FDD is particularly proud of the Long War Journal team and its tenacious efforts to ensure that these documents were released to the general public,” he added. “The key now is to learn from them, to dispel some myths, and to gain a clearer understanding of this ruthless terrorist network that continues to threaten the United States and its allies worldwide.”


To receive the link to download video or a still photo of Hamza bin Laden, email [email protected].

To schedule an interview, contact [email protected] or 202.403.2904.

About FDD:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, D.C.-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Visit our website at and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.