Saturday, July 09, 2011

Files Not Deleted

As analysts work their way through the trove of hard drives that were seized when Navy SEALS dispatched Osama Bin Laden, the latest revelation is that he was contemplating changing the name of organization. In one letter he was composing to others in the organization, he wrote that he was upset that "Al-Qaeda Al-Jihad," which translates as "The Base of Holy War" had been shortened in practice to "Al Qaeda," or literally "The Base." True, in practice the terror organization wasn't usually confused with the German indie rock band of the same name, singers of the hit song "Blame it on the Moondog." But as a label to help promote worldwide religious fervor and uprising, dropping the end of the phrase made it easy to forget you were dealing with an organization dedicated to the overthrow of the west, and instead brought to mind an internet news site ("Breaking news from The Base: Kanye disses Snoop!")

It's a strategy that has worked for others, from Blackwater (now Xe Services) to ValuJet (now AirTran) and Philip Morris (now Altria). Not wanting to lose the most important part of the name, namely the reference to "Jihad," he had some trial ideas to float. He was doodling on "Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad," meaning "Monotheism and Jihad Group," or maybe "Jama'at I'Adat al-Khilafat al-Rashida," meaning "Restoration of the Caliphate Group." In the wake of this revelation, others have made suggestions online, many unprintable, some more In keeping with a bumper speaker mindset, such as "The Muslomaniacs." Even NPR got into the act: their news quiz show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" offered up "Taifat al-Tawhed Wal-Jihad," which roughly translates to "I Can't Believe It's Not Terrorism."

What else will they find? Surely he had other documents on which he was working which never got polished enough to send out to his followers, or files he kept just for himself. In that light, the discoveries are sure to keep on coming, despite the challenges of unearthing them.  First they need to find Arabic translators who speak his particular Saudi dialect. Then assuming he was as sloppy as the rest of us and never deleted anything, they have to weed through all the old versions of AOL and Netscape that he never uninstalled. And they have to crack his passwords, though odds are "jihad123" will work for most. But once they jump those hurtles, they're liable to find files such as these.

Productivity Killers V4.doc. "Americans are prone to devote inordinate amount of time to non-essential, mind numbing, useless activities. We should try and exploit this vulnerability. Should we accomplish this, think of how much we could damage their economy as they sink every increasing amounts of their capitalist wealth into decadent activities which siphon off time, money and drive. Perhaps a TV show about mindless, vapid individuals at the beach, easily played portable games where you throw upset animals or fowl, or an online community where people spent time posting pointless updates about their lives. Odds are none of these would succeed, but we should not let that deter us from trying."

Passwords.xls. November 2002: caves2002. July 2003: caves2003. February 2004: caves2004.

Mortgage Offer.doc. "Mr.& Mrs. Bradley O'Hara, Dessert View Apartments #4C, 39744 Saguaro Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85017 Dear Mr. & Mrs. O'Hara; Congratulations! On behalf of Bank of America, I am pleased to inform you that you qualify for a no-verification mortgage of $1 million dollars for the property at 73653 Cactus Flower Drive. All you need to do to finalize the loan is to complete the simple one page attached form, return it the nearest local branch, and a check will be sent to you within 7 days. We look forward to calling you homeowners!"

Boom Rockets. High score: osama 1672. Second: Osama 1431. Third: obl 1123. Fourth: osama b 956. Fifth: Osama BL 893.

Open House V2. "We've moved! After several years on the run, come and join us as we celebrate our new home in Pakistan. We will be hosting a barbeque and flag burning at our new compound on 12 Safar 2009. Bring bathing suits (men only), and your favorite firearm to show off! Location of pickup to be delivered via courier. Blindfolds required to get on bus. Please RSVP by the next new moon on my Facebook page, Jerry Gibbens of Souix City, Iowa."

Wives/Sizes/Fav color.xls. Najwa/8/Black. Khadijah/12/Black. Khairiah/6/Black. Siham/4/Black. Amal/16/Black.

JS.doc. "Dear Snooki; I think you are the hottest! Don't let the Situation get in your face so much. And tell JWOWW to turn down the drama. From an overseas fan."


Marc Wollin of Bedford has lots on his hard drives he hopes never sees the light of day. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, the Scarsdale Inquirer and online at

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