What was on Osama Bin Laden's bookshelf?

Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998 file photo Image copyright AP
Image caption The books in Bin Laden's Pakistan hideout were digital editions rather than printed copies

Osama Bin Laden was a fan of 9/11 conspiracy theories, according to a newly released list of English language books found in his Pakistan hideout.

The list was among documents belonging to the former al-Qaeda chief published by the US government this week.

Among tomes on law and military strategy are books claiming the US was complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

The release comes shortly after the fourth anniversary of Bin Laden's death at the hands of US special forces.

The list of English-language books - which were all digital copies rather than printed editions - reads like a university reading list, largely made up of serious texts on international relations, politics and law.

A sizable collection of manuals for computer programs, printers and virus protection software paint a picture of the more banal side of life as the world's most wanted man.


Bin Laden also owned books by famed Watergate scandal reporter Bob Woodward and US academic Noam Chomsky.

And his interest in conspiracy theories was not confined to 9/11 - there were also books on the kinds of powerful shadowy elites obsessed over by conspiracy theorists, including the "Illuminati" and "Committee of 300".

More mainstream titles on international terrorism also featured heavily in his reading material, as did US foreign policy reports.

Among the more surprising texts, for its apparent simplicity, is A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam by IA Ibrahim.

Another title that stands out is Grappler's Guide to Sports Nutrition by John Berardi and Michael Fry - although it is listed by the US government as "probably used by other compound residents".

The texts suspected of belonging to other residents also include the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records, Children's Edition and Is It the Heart You Are Asking? - a suicide prevention guide.

And ominously, the compound contained a guide to the American special forces video game Delta Force Extreme 2.

Nuclear target?

Bin Laden was particularly interested in France, it seems, with a large number of texts about the country on various subjects, including culture, economics and wage inequality.

Reports on France's radioactive waste management and shipping companies hint at Bin Laden's terror activities.

Bin Laden was killed by US special forces on 2 May 2011 in a daring helicopter raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Pakistan had no prior knowledge of the raid, the White House says, and its security services did not know Bin Laden was there.

Image caption US Navy Seals killed Bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan in May 2011

The full list of English language books

  • The 2030 Spike by Colin Mason
  • A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam by IA Ibrahim
  • America's Strategic Blunders by Willard Matthias
  • America's "War on Terrorism" by Michel Chossudovsky
  • Al-Qaeda's Online Media Strategies: From Abu Reuter to Irhabi 007 by Hanna Rogan
  • The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast
  • The Best Enemy Money Can Buy by Anthony Sutton
  • Black Box Voting, Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris
  • Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier
  • Bounding the Global War on Terror by Jeffrey Record
  • Checking Iran's Nuclear Ambitions by Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson
  • Christianity and Islam in Spain 756-1031 A.D. by CR Haines
  • Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies by Cheryl Benard
  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
  • Conspirators' Hierarchy: The Committee of 300 by John Coleman
  • Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert
  • Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance (only the book's introduction) by C Christine Fair and Peter Chalk
  • Guerrilla Air Defense: Antiaircraft Weapons and Techniques for Guerrilla Forces by James Crabtree
  • Handbook of International Law by Anthony Aust
  • Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky
  • Imperial Hubris by Michael Scheuer
  • In Pursuit of Allah's Pleasure by Asim Abdul Maajid, Esaam Ud-Deen and Naahah Ibrahim
  • Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II by William Blum
  • Military Intelligence Blunders by John Hughes-Wilson
  • Project MKULTRA, the CIA's program of research in behavioral modification. Joint hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, Ninety-fifth Congress, first session, August 3, 1977. United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky
  • New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin
  • New Political Religions, or Analysis of Modern Terrorism by Barry Cooper
  • Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward
  • Oxford History of Modern War by Charles Townsend
  • The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum
  • The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Hall (1928)
  • Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins
  • The Taking of America 1-2-3 by Richard Sprague
  • Unfinished Business, U.S. Overseas Military Presence in the 21st Century by Michael O'Hanlon
  • The U.S. and Vietnam 1787-1941 by Robert Hopkins Miller
  • Website Claims Steve Jackson Games Foretold 9/11, article posted on (this file contained only a single saved web page)

The documents 'probably used by other compound residents'

  • Art Education: The Journal of National Art Education Association, "Islamic Art as an Educational Tool about the Teaching of Islam" by Fayeq S Oweiss (March 2002)
  • Arabic Calligraphy Workshop by Fayeq S Oweiss
  • Published Work Sample from Fayeq S Oweiss (2004)
  • Resume for Fayeq S. Oweiss, PhD (2006)
  • Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide
  • Game Spot Videogame Guide
  • Grappler's Guide to Sports Nutrition by John Berardi and Michael Fry
  • Guinness Book of World Records Children's Edition 2008 (scans of several pages from)
  • Is It the Heart You Are Asking? by Dr. Islam Sobhi al-Mazeny (suicide prevention guide)
  • Silkscreening Instructions

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