Read Osama bin Laden’s handwritten journal

The CIA has released hundreds of thousands of documents, images, and computer files recovered during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

One of the newly-available files is a handwritten, 228-page journal kept by Osama bin Laden himself. The Arabic-language notebook, which can be viewed above, contains the al Qaeda master’s private reflections on the world and al Qaeda’s place in it.

Some of the pages contain bin Laden’s thoughts on the 2011 Arab uprisings, which bin Laden wanted his men to capitalize on. While al Qaeda did not predict the revolutions that swept through North Africa and the Middle East, it moved quickly to set up operations in countries such as Libya.

FDD’s Long War Journal will continue to work on the journal in the coming weeks, but others can access it above in the meantime.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Brian L. says:

    BRilliant use of the internet, giving us instant access, even without a translation. Thank you.

  • A lot of good putting his writings out…..In Arabic.

  • N.K says:

    Very interesting.

    Is the 19 page document the same handwriting as in this diary? Taking into consideration the composition of forces on the ground in Syria, it seems odd Iran as well as Hezbollah would be training and arming those they actually fight there.

    “Saudi Brothers”? Really.

  • Mohammed says:

    Insha’Allah, we can spoon feed this guy. Amazing.

  • Michael Nugent says:

    Of course it makes sense to publish bin Ladin’s notebooks in Arabic. He wrote them in Arabic, and although only a few of us can decipher them, we need to see them in the original. Those who don’t know Arabic will have a translation available soon enough.

  • Austin says:

    a lot of peeps now arabic, it’s technically better than nothing

  • Austin says:


  • Aaron Epshtien says:

    Just realised that Arabic is written right to left so we are starting with the last page first, anyways the guy had neat penmanship unless one of his child brides was writing it under heavy(literally) super – vision !

  • Simeo G Musonda Col (Ret) says:

    The Internet Access is enabling us to learn faster from the past and current events.
    We are at our best when we learn from History and contemporary events.

  • irebukeu says:

    For me, this article should be titled “Look at Osama bin Laden’s Handwritten Journal.”
    Mot much to see here unless you know Arabic. There are various lines written in red, underlined in red and circled in red. Do these have any significance? Is that a ‘doodle’ on page 193, or part of an illustration relating to the text?

  • J Johnson says:

    Without a translation, who is this going to help besides his followers?

  • E. M. Macierowski says:

    What about the pages not included? There are parts of the photo that seem to have full pages on each side, but the next exposure does not include the Arabic text.

  • mohammad sadeghi says:

    Dear sirs ,
    when we will be able to get english translation of the “19 pages document” ?

  • Mark Adkins says:

    From page 158 (“Ruminations”):

    “Why does moisture ruin leather? Aren’t cows outside all the time? I really don’t get it…”

  • E. M. Macierowski says:

    When cows are outside, their living skin is exposed to the elements; skin can grow back when injured. We get leather only by pealing the skin off the dead animal, scraping off the hair or fur, curing it, drying it, etc. Leather can be kept in good condition by oiling it or waxing it, but once the leather is wet, it will stiffen and become brittle when dried out. It may also mold. In the Middle Ages, you had to kill an animal to get a sheet of vellum to write on, since paper was not generally available.

  • Matt Smith says:

    Ha! I’m assuming you’re joking. No?

  • Michael says:

    Reading half way through it and it does not say any where that this is Bin Landen diary nor the context referring to that. it is poorly written, most likely by one of his kids in a family sittings asking his father for his opinion about the Arab spring uprising.

  • Jon M says:

    The pages are shown in this scan in order, i.e. page 1, page 2, page 3. But Arabic is read and written from right to left. So rather than left page 1, right page 2, left page 3, right page 4, as we would expect in English, what we’re seeing in the scan is right page 1, left page 2, right page 3, left page 4, etc. This is made more confusing by the animation of the “page turning” in the wrong direction!


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