In Depth

Osama bin Laden’s surprising video collection - from Mr Bean to Chicken Little

Tom and Jerry cartoons, YouTube viral videos and crochet tutorials found on terrorist leader’s computer

Osama bin Laden

Do you enjoy Tom and Jerry cartoons? What about Mr Bean? Got a crochet project on the go?

If your answer to any of those questions is yes, you may have at least one thing in common with Osama bin Laden.

The CIA has released more than 470,000 files unearthed from the computer seized at the terrorist leader’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was shot dead by an elite US Navy Seal squad in 2011.

While the Al-Qaeda leader became notorious for his home-made videos threatening doom to the West, but his own video tastes appear to have run to the more benign.

Among the 10,000 video files found on Bin Laden’s computer were YouTube clips, Mr Bean movies, family animations such as Chicken Little and Cars and more than 20 episodes of Tom and Jerry.

Some of the videos are chilling in their familiarity to any family, including a wedding video for Bin Laden’s son Hamza, which includes shots of “boys playing football, decorations including red heart-shaped balloons and wedding food,” the BBC reports.

Other files reflect Bin Laden’s fascination with how he was portrayed by Western media - his video collection included news reports and three documentaries about himself, the BBC reports, “including one called Where in the World is Osama bin Laden”.

The video cache also contained 28 crochet tutorials, suggestive of the restricted life led by Bin Laden and his family in hiding.

What’s more, the world’s most wanted terrorist had to go to extraordinary lengths to enjoy the likes of Charlie Bit My Finger and viral cat videos.

The remote hideout did not have its own internet connection, says The Independent, which “presumably means that the videos were instead brought to him on a hard drive or similar, and loaded onto his computer for watching later”.

However, Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow Bill Roggio told Wired that while it is “quite possible” that Bin Laden was a crochet aficionado with a weakness for Tom and Jerry, “I suspect a lot of the sort of frivolous or the personal stuff was more for his family”.

When US special forces raided the compound in May 2011, Bin Laden was living with his five children and four of his grandchildren, along with several wives and an adult son who was killed in the raid.

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