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Osama bin Laden’s pornography stash to remain under wraps, US decides

The list of documents recovered from Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout and released by US intelligence officials includes operational notes, family letters, political analysis and histories of Islamist militancy.
Osama bin Laden’s bookshelf: Noam Chomsky, Bob Woodward, and jihad Read moreBut one portion of the document hoard seems unlikely ever to be declassified: Osama bin Laden’s porn collection.
Since the 2011 Navy Seal raid in which the al-Qaida chief was killed, there have been numerous unconfirmed reports that the documents included “a considerable quantity of pornographic videos”.
On Wednesday, the office of the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, confirmed for the first time that “some pornographic material” was contained in Bin Laden’s recovered papers and personal effects.
But while the US declassified a substantial number of documents and released detailed lists of Bin Laden’s reading preferences, details the pornography kept by the man who was the world’s most-hunted terrorist will remain hidden.
“We are not going to release these materials due to the nature of their contents,” Clapper’s spokesman, Jeffrey Anchukaitis, told the Guardian.
For years, Bin Laden evaded a global manhunt by the world’s most sophisticated intelligence agencies by giving off as few electronic signals as possible. He communicated with the outside world through documents on flash drives supplied to couriers and transmitted through internet cafes. He stayed away from phones, air-gapped his computers and did not use the internet.
Osama bin Laden documents reveal intimate correspondence with family Read moreYet despite the self-imposed limitations on interacting with the outside world, Bin Laden had porn in his possession. A Reuters report from 2011 described his collection as “fairly extensive”, and including recent-vintage video smut.
Anchukaitis declined to specify the sort of porn Bin Laden preferred.
While al-Qaida and other global jihadists project an image of religious asceticism, jihadist militants – comprising as they do men interacting under conditions of stress – often have pornographic material close to hand. According to Louise Shelley, a professor at George Mason University, porn smuggling routes operate in territory controlled by the Islamic State.
Jihadists are also reported to conceal messages to each other inside pornographic imagery – a sort of X-rated steganography – though the contention has not been confirmed.

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