The Book List: What did US forces find on Osama bin Laden’s bookshelf?

Today, Alex Johnson starts his weekly column delving into unique collections of titles owned by the great, the good and the infamous. All the lists are real, though some of the books are not*

Alex Johnson
Tuesday 27 February 2018 19:49 GMT
It appears the former al-Qaeda leader liked to indulge in serious politics and conspiracy theories
It appears the former al-Qaeda leader liked to indulge in serious politics and conspiracy theories

As novelist Walter Mosley has pointed out, a person’s bookcase tells you everything you need to know about them. Sadly, many of the books that will be mentioned in this column are no longer in print. Happily, second-hand bookshops still stock the majority of these titles, while Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive often provide free online alternatives. We begin the journey with...

Bin Laden’s Bookshelf

Handbook of International Law
Anthony Aust
Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies 
Cheryl Benard
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions since World War II 
William Blum
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
William Blum
Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
Noam Chomsky
Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of US Internal Security Assistance (only the book’s introduction)
Christine Fair and Peter Chalk
Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance
Noam Chomsky
America’s ‘War on Terrorism’ 
Michel Chossudovsky
Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Committee of 300 
John Coleman
New Political Religions, or Analysis of Modern Terrorism
Barry Cooper
Guerilla Air Defense: Antiaircraft Weapons and Techniques for Guerilla Forces
James Crabtree
New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 
David Ray Griffin
Christianity and Islam in Spain 756–1031 AD 
CR Haines
The Secret Teachings of All Ages
Manly Hall
Black Box Voting, Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century 
Bev Harris
The US and Vietnam 1787–1941 
Robert Hopkins Miller
Military Intelligence Blunders
John Hughes-Wilson
A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam
IA Ibrahim

No light reading: works by critics of the US government like Noam Chomsky appear to have been preferred 

International Relations Theory and the Asia-Pacific 
John Ikenberry and Michael Mastandano
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
Paul Kennedy
In Pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure 
Asim Abdul Maajid, Esaam-udDeen and Dr Naahah Ibrahim
The 2030 Spike 
Colin Mason
America’s Strategic Blunders
Willard Matthias
Secrets of the Federal Reserve
Eustace Mullins
Unfinished Business, US Overseas Military Presence in the 21st Century
Michael O’Hanlon
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
John Perkins
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy 
Greg Palast
Bounding the Global War on Terror 
Jeffrey Record
Al-Qaeda’s Online Media Strategies: From Abu Reuter to Irhabi 007
Hanna Rogan
Crossing the Rubicon
Michael Ruppert
Imperial Hubris
Michael Scheuer

Finding theories: a book by investigative reporter Greg Palast also makes the list

Checking Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions 
Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson
The Taking of America 1-2-3
Richard Sprague
Bloodlines of the Illuminati 
Fritz Springmeier
The Best Enemy Money Can Buy
Anthony Sutton
Oxford History of Modern War 
Charles Townsend
Obama’s Wars
Bob Woodward
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

Not only did the US Navy Seals who raided the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan in 2011 find Osama bin Laden, they also discovered his collection of books. These reading materials are being analysed and gradually made public by the US government under the title of “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf” and the above is a list of the English-language books found at his home, all digital copies rather than printed.

There is no light reading here. Instead of laughing at Bertie Wooster’s controversial choice of purple socks, the head of al-Qaeda seems to have preferred high-profile critics of the US government such as Chomsky and Palast, while concentrating entirely on serious politics, law and, especially, conspiracy theories. Among these are the chronicles of the ongoing activities of the Illuminati, the running of the USA by shadowy cabals (take your pick of a Power Control Group, elite financiers or 300 chosen families), and that 9/11 was organised or at the very least allowed to happen by the US government.

Bin Laden was killed at his Abbottabad base in 2011

Interestingly, Michael Scheuer, who wrote Imperial Hubris (included in this list), once ran the CIA’s Bin Laden tracking unit. The full collection also contains dozens of reports and think tank publications on al-Qaeda and similar groups, such as The 9/11 Commission Report, the official account of the terrorist attacks. The US authorities have not given any precise details about where the books were found in the residence or what was on his “to read” pile on his bedside table.

A second list features titles which may have been read by Bin Laden, but according to the US government were probably used by other people living in the compound. This is a more eclectic selection and includes The Grappler’s Guide to Sports Nutrition by John Berardi and Michael Fry, the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records (Children’s Edition), Is It the Heart Which You Are Asking? (a suicide prevention guide), and a guide to the Delta Force Xtreme 2 first-person shooter video game. There were also a couple of Arabic-English dictionaries and the December 2010 Popular Science magazine’s “Best Innovations of the Year” issue.

*This is a real list of the books that were found by US forces in Bin Laden’s compound. Future columns might look at titles owned by fictional characters and may include works that were never completed

‘A Book of Book Lists’ by Alex Johnson, £7.99, British Library Publishing

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