What was on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?

Investigators pore over a 'mother lode' of data on hard drives, flash drives and other devices

The assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan uncovered what one U.S. official called “the mother lode of intelligence,” in the form of hard drives, thumb drives and paper records.

During the raid, Navy SEALs collected five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 portable storage devices, such as DVDs and flash drives, along with paper documents, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“They cleaned it out,” one official told Politico. “Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?”


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Hundreds of investigators were poring over the data in Afghanistan to see what was usable. “It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” an official told Politico.

One question could have to do with how current the information is. Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, where Navy SEALs killed him in the May 1 raid, was not connected to the Internet and did not have phone lines.

Investigators also might have to deal with trying to crack encryption on the files. Although there has been no word on whether bin Laden’s files were encrypted, terrorist groups reportedly have developed encryption software, according to ThreatPost.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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