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Porn stash discovered in Osama bin Laden's lair

This undated artist rendering handout provided by the CIA shows the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan where American forces in Pakistan killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (CIA)

May 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A sizeable stash of pornography was among the items seized when U.S. Navy SEALs raided the Pakistani hideout of Osama bin Laden, almost two weeks ago, U.S. officials say.

The officials said it was unclear who the material belonged to, and there was no way to know whether bin Laden had viewed it.

Bin Laden's son and two other adult male couriers lived at the compound, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

The pornography was among the computer materials confiscated in the raid after the SEALs killed bin Laden, ending an almost ten-year manhunt for the terrorist behind the 9/11 terror attacks.

After they killed him, they confiscated what U.S. officials call a "treasure trove" of information from bin Laden's second-floor office. The items included a handwritten journal, five computers, 10 hard drives and 110 thumb drives seized at the site.

The al Qaeda leader was able to send emails without leaving a digital fingerprint for U.S. eavesdroppers to find. His system was slow but effective, and it allowed him to send messages without having Internet or phone lines running to his compound.

The cache of electronic records seized from his compound after he was killed last week is revealing thousands of messages and potentially hundreds of email addresses, a counterterrorism official told The Associated Press.

This is how it worked: Bin Laden would type up a message on a computer in his compound, save it to a small flash drive, then passed it to a trusted courier, who would head for a distant Internet café.

At the café, the courier would plug the flash drive into a computer, upload bin Laden's message and email it out. Afterward, the courier would copy any incoming email onto the flash drive and physically bring it back to the compound, where bin Laden would read his messages offline.

It was a slow, toilsome process. And it was so meticulous that even veteran intelligence officials have marveled at bin Laden's ability to maintain it for so long. The U.S. always suspected bin Laden was communicating through couriers but did not anticipate the breadth of his communications as revealed by the materials he left behind.

The long list of email addresses and phone numbers found in the emails is expected to touch off a flurry of national security letters and subpoenas to Internet service providers.

The cache of electronic documents is so enormous that the government has enlisted Arabic speakers from around the intelligence community to pore over it. Officials have said the records revealed no new terror plot but showed bin Laden remained involved in al Qaeda's operations long after the U.S. had assumed he had passed control to his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.

U.S. officials are continuing to scour the reported 1 million pages of information seized from bin Laden's Pakistani compound.

In bin Laden's hand-written journal, he urged his followers to assassinate Obama and find ways to disrupt the 2012 American elections.

Information gleaned from the evidence showed the al Qaeda chief wanted to kill President Barack Obama.

"There is no doubt that when it comes to the American people that after having killed bin Laden, there may be a desire on some al Qaeda members to exact revenge and that's something that we have to be vigilant about and we're monitoring all these situations," the president told WLTV.

Just recently, death threats from al Qaeda's Somali affiliate were issued against his 88-year-old stepgrandmother, Sarah Obama, who lives in Kenya.

The Somali wing of al Qaeda includes an American from Alabama, Omar Hammami who goes by Abu Mansour al Amriki.

"Today we remind Obama, and the rest of his cronies, that they have entered the wrong war," said Amriki.

Meantime, other files seized from bin Laden's compound not only have the potential to help the U.S. find other al Qaeda figures, they may also force terrorists to change their routines. That could make them more vulnerable to making mistakes and being discovered.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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