Federal prosecutors have introduced eight documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011 as evidence in the trial of a terrorism suspect in New York. Abid Naseer is alleged to have taken part in al Qaeda’s plotting in Europe and New York City. And U.S. attorneys argue that the documents are important for understanding the scope of al Qaeda’s network and activities.
The Long War Journal has obtained the bin Laden files introduced as government exhibits. One of the documents is a memorandum dated June 19, 2010 written by “Mahmoud,” the alias used by Atiyah Abd al Rahman, to Sheikh Abu Abdallah, a nom de guerre used by Osama bin Laden. Rahman, who served as al Qaeda’s general manager, was subsequently killed in a US drone strike in August 2011.
One section of Rahman’s memo details al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan at the time:
“Our groups inside Afghanistan are the same for every season for many years now,” Rahman wrote. “We have groups in Bactria, Bactica, Khost, Zabul, Ghazni and [Wardak] in addition to the battalion in Nuristan and Kunz,” the US government’s translation reads. Bactria and Bactica are probably poor translations of Paktia and Paktika, two provinces where al Qaeda’s allies are known to have a strong presence. Also, Kunz is likely Kunar. Therefore, Rahman indicated that al Qaeda had a presence in at least eight Afghan provinces. The size of these “groups” was not disclosed. But earlier in the letter, Rahman mentioned that al Qaeda has “a full battalion in Nuristan and Kunar.” A translator or analyst from the US government estimated that this battalion consisted of “around 70 individuals.”