June 18, 2024
Twelve years ago last week, on May 2, 2011, the U.S. military conducted a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan that killed Usama bin Laden. Once the mission was accomplished, the SEAL team conducted sensitive site exploitation and gathered up and returned with all of the materials and equipment they discovered in the compound. Nelly Lahoud and her team sorted through some 97,000 files and 6,000 pages of declassified documents, all in Arabic, to discover the truth about bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network. She's in the studio to discuss her book, "The Bin Laden Papers: How the Abbottabad Raid Revealed the Truth about Al-Qaeda, Its Leader and His Family" with host John Nagl. The information gleaned from this incredible undertaking paints a picture of a man and a network that, after the 9/11 attack, were confined, restrained and not very successful.

Twelve years ago last week, on May 2, 2011, the U.S. military conducted a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan that killed Usama bin Laden. Once the mission was accomplished, the SEAL team conducted sensitive site exploitation and gathered up and returned with all of the materials and equipment they discovered in the compound. Nelly Lahoud and her team sorted through some 97,000 files and 6,000 pages of declassified documents, all in Arabic, to discover the truth about bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network. She’s in the studio to discuss her book, The Bin Laden Papers: How the Abbottabad Raid Revealed the Truth about Al-Qaeda, Its Leader and His Family with host John Nagl. The information gleaned from this incredible undertaking paints a picture of a man and a network that, after the 9/11 attack, were confined, restrained and not very successful.

I think for about a decade he appeared to be somebody who was too powerful, when in reality he was not. We find that in the letters between himself and his associates, we find them struggling, whether it’s finances or the inability to move, there were many impediments…After the collapse of the Taliban regime, the letters make it very clear that al-Qaeda was shattered by then and al-Qaeda’s ability to mount international terrorism came to a halt.

Nelly Lahoud is Associate Professor in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College. Dr. Lahoud’s research has focused on the evolution and ideology of al-Qaeda (AQ) and the “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL). Her latest book, The Bin Laden Papers: How the Abbottabad Raid Revealed the Truth about Al-Qaeda, Its Leader and His Family, was published with Yale University Press (2022) and featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Lahoud is fluent in Arabic and French.

John Nagl is an Associate Professor of Warfighting Studies at the U.S. Army War College. He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam.

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Photo Description: Aerial view and diagram of Usama bin Laden’s secret compound and the location of his death in Abbottabad, Pakistan

Photo Credit: Compound diagram by U.S. Defense Intelligence Age

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