The season one Big Bad of the ongoing blockbuster series known as America’s Endless War on Terror, Osama Bin Laden was once the face of Islamist terror. Before ISIS popped up and stole his crown, the bearded zealot behind such crowd unpleasers as 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings spent his days as the most wanted, most feared man on Earth. For 10 years between 9/11 and 2011, he remained in hiding in his compound in Pakistan, from where he directed the most feared series of attacks the Western world had ever seen.
At least, that’s what he was supposed to be doing. But it turns out al-Qaeda’s founder was as big on procrastination as he was on fundamentalist religion. Over the years since they took him out, the CIA have released swathe after swathe of files found on Bin Laden’s computer. So far, the picture they’ve painted is less of a criminal mastermind, and more of a dude with a serious addiction to filling his empty hours with as much bizarre, perverted, and hilarious stuff as possible.
10. 30 Crocheting Videos
One is the deadliest terrorist to have ever lived. The other is a gentle way of unwinding beloved by grandmas across the world. At first glance, you wouldn’t assume that Osama Bin Laden and the art of crocheting had much in common. You’d be wrong. When the CIA went looking around inside the al-Qaeda leader’s computer for terrorist material, they found something a little… unexpected. Saved to the computer’s hard drive were nearly 30 videos instructing viewers on crocheting.
The exact patterns these sweet, YouTube grandmas were teaching Bin Laden is, sadly, unknown (alas). However, we’re guessing they’re weren’t as obvious as images of planes slamming into towers, or al-Qaeda raising the black flag over the White House. Nah, that’d have pulled the CIA right in. More likely, they’re images of ducks bobbing in the water, or cats playing with balls of yarn. Aww.
We should probably note here that other people had access to Bin Laden’s computer, and it’s totally possible one of his compound buddies was the crocheting addict. Still, the image of al-Qaeda’s top guy settling down for night of crocheting isn’t one we’ll forget in a hurry.
9. Old Mr. Bean Episodes
They say the great thing about Mr. Bean is that the humor can translate into any language in the world. Apparently, this also includes the language of cold-blooded psychopathy. Alongside Bin Laden’s stash of crocheting videos were reams of old Mr. Bean episodes, and both of the later movies. As anyone who has ever had to sit through Mr. Bean’s Holiday will tell you, you have to be a real nutcase to wring any enjoyment outta that sack of poop.
At the time of his death, Bin Laden was sharing his compound with five of his children, four of his grandchildren, enough wives to satisfy a Turkish sultan, and an adult son who discovered too late that he couldn’t protect his father from a marine’s bullet using just his head. So, if we were being generous, we’d say that the videos probably belonged to one of them. However, since this is Bin Laden we’re talking about, we have absolutely no need to be generous whatsoever. That moron probably even thought Peter MacNicol was the funny one in Bean. What a dum-dum.
8. Adult Movies… Lots of Adult Movies
Look, we get it. We really do. You’re on the run from the most-powerful nation in the world. You’ve got drones buzzing overhead, the CIA sniffing around your backyard, and a network of assassins from Mossad to MI6 all looking to turn your head into something they can stuff and mount on their agency’s wall. In those circumstances, who among us could possibly find time for our many wives, no matter how comely or numerous? Who can concentrate on putting some wood into the little fella where there’s the chance a tomahawk might blow mini-Bin Laden off?
All of which may go some way toward explaining something else found on Bin Laden’s computer. Way back in 2011, Reuters broke the story that Bin Laden’s hard drive was swimming with stuff designed to make his drive as hard as iron (and, yes, that’s totally a euphemism). The terrorist mastermind apparently had a “fairly extensive” collection of modern pornography. We’re assuming ‘modern’ here is code for ‘hardcore fetish stuff’, but who knows? Maybe the mass murderer was just really into Fifty Shades of Gray?
7. Wedding Videos
Even bad guys need time to unwind occasionally. Who could forget that photograph of Hitler going sledding, for example? Osama Bin Laden was no exception. After a hard weeks’ plotting to overthrow the current world order, and/or crocheting, the big cheese of international terrorism liked to do traditional, family things. By that, we mean he liked to watch videos sent to him of one of his sons getting married.
Yup, that’s Bin Laden Jr. in the video above, sitting around with a buncha al-Qaeda bigwigs, looking for all the world like he isn’t in the midst of a group of people notorious for bombing weddings exactly like his one. And, we guess, also looking for all the world like he isn’t in the middle of the suckiest wedding party of all time. Seriously, bro, you call that a party? That’s just a bunch of beardy weirdies sitting around and talking about crushing their enemies in the west. You could get that exact same experience just by visiting Games Workshop.
The highlight of the full-length video? The al-Qaeda guys doing a weird kinda not-quite sitting down dance. Coz who said terrorism is incompatible with partying?
So, we haven’t actually told you the most intriguing thing about all this mad stuff raided from Bin Laden’s computers. The computers in the compound weren’t just off the shelf models. They were specially built, and incapable of connecting to the internet (lest a 2 AM Tweetstorm result in James Bond battering down the door). That means that every single electronic item you read about here had to be specifically requested by Bin Laden, downloaded by someone else, brought to the compound in secret, and then uploaded onto Bin Laden’s computer.
Bear all that in mind when you read the next bit. Among Bin Laden’s files were a whole load of memes. The most-notable of which was the “Charlie bit my finger” video.
You remember that video (and if you don’t, we embedded it above). Back when YouTube was just an adorable distraction, rather than a Hollywood-challenging monolith, one short video of two young British boys and a twice-bitten finger became famous as the most-watched video on YouTube. While it’s now been surpassed hundreds of times, it was big enough around the 2007-09 period that even Bin Laden needed to get his hands on it. Imagine being one of those kids, knowing a terrorist has enjoyed watching you act all adorable. Weird.
5. Western Movies
Maybe we’re expecting too much. Feel free to call us naïve, but when mass-murdering lunatics hate Western culture enough to kill nearly 3,000 people in the name of suppressing it, we tend to take them at their word. But, apparently, we’re wrong to do so. The leader of al-Qaeda wasn’t just a nasty, creepy murderer. He was a nasty, creepy murderer with a sideline in hypocrisy. Among the files the CIA unearthed from Bin Laden’s computer were endless Western movies.
We don’t mean movies that were subversive or poked at the American establishment, like stuff by Oliver Stone or Michael Moore. We mean the exact sort of middle of the road Hollywood fare that Bin Laden’s followers probably thought epitomized Western decadence.
Among those found were copies of Pixar’s Cars. There was a copy of Chicken Little. A copy of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. To be fair, there was more cerebral fare, such as National Geographic documentaries, but c’mon. That’s like those hipsters who think they can get away with slipping Transformers on just because they’ve just watched Les quatre cents coups. We all know what you’re really into, Mr. Bin Laden.
4. Softcore 1990s Arcade Games
OK, this one’s a little freaky, even by the standards of the rest of this article. Remember how we told you back at #8 about Bin Laden’s extensive porn collection? Turns out it wasn’t just normal porn the world’s most wanted man was into. One of the things he also liked was to unwind with a bit of animated softcore. And we don’t mean animated by regular standards. We mean he liked to play softcore 1990s arcade games with pixilated boobs and badly-drawn women in various states of undress.
We really, really need to stress that these games are in no way titillating if you live at any time outside of the early/mid-’90s, and in any place except your mom’s basement. Games like Fantasy ’95 or Perestroika Girls were only games in the sense that you moved a joystick, and only pornographic in the sense that moving that joystick slowly revealed animated women wearing a whole lotta nothing. These things were less erotic than airborne Ebola when they were made. In the late-’00s world when Bin Laden was holed up, they were the electronic equivalent of getting off over photos of a woman showing her ankles.
Unless you’re fairly au-fait with your anime, you probably haven’t heard of Detective Conan (also known in the West as Case Closed). A show that is perhaps just about the most Japanese thing in existence, it features a mastermind detective who is accidentally infected with an experimental poison that turns him into an elementary school kid. He then keeps solving cases from inside the body of a child, while everyone not from Japan feels kinda awkward about the whole setup.
To date, the show has run for over 800 episodes, from 1994 until the present day. Want to guess who was apparently a big fan of it? Ohh, go on. You’ll never get it!
Oh, you got it. Yep, the answer was Osama Bin Laden. Surprise! Several episodes were found on his computer, all fan videos subtitled into Arabic by a user on some Arabic anime forum. Like you, we’re super curious as to what a mass killer might see in the adventures of an age-regressed detective that would appeal to him. Sadly, we’ll probably never know the answer.
2. Reviews of American Cable News
So, here’s an unexpected fact. Some time in the mid-2000s, Bin Laden apparently decided his image needed a little polishing. So he began toying with the idea of going on an American cable news show and allowing himself to be interviewed. To decide who should get his interview (and, to be fair, it would have been one heck of a scoop), he composed a set of reviews of American news shows. The results are… interesting, to say the least.
For example, Bin Laden apparently considered CNN and Fox News to be equally biased in exactly the same direction, which we’re sure will come as news to anyone alive and awake in 2017. He was apparently a one-time fan of MSNBC, which he considered “neutral,” only to fall out with the channel when Keith Olbermann left. ABC he called “all right” and wrote about how they might be good from an al-Qaeda marketing perspective.
But the channel he admired the most? Umm… CBS. For some reason he considered it unbiased and the perfect place to air an interview, presumably right between reruns of Big Bang Theory. Because nothing says “family entertainment” quite like the rantings of a deranged terrorist!
1. “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?”
In 2008, the documentarian and former scourge of McDonalds, Morgan Spurlock, starred in a documentary entitled Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? In it, he went around the Arab world, jokingly interviewing regular folk about terrorism. The results apparently weren’t all that great. Roger Ebert gave the film 2 stars in a review that makes it sound like it should have really only gotten one star. No, we’re not bringing Spurlock’s film up because of its quality. We’re bringing it up because Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? was watched by none other than Bin Laden himself.
That’s some serious, meta-level stuff right there, like opening a copy of Where’s Waldo? to find Waldo inside, thumbing through a copy of the same book, and so on, and so on through an infinite series of Wald-tastic regressions. We like to imagine Bin Laden would put on Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? on a Friday night and watch it while squealing “here I am!” and giggling hysterically. Cuz what else are you gonna do for fun while living like a hermit in a secret compound?