How did the world’s most wanted man send email? In short, carefully.
In order to avoid eavesdropping, the compound where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. forces had no internet connection or phone line. The leader of Al Qaeda relied on couriers to ferry messages to and from him on small flash drives, U.S. officials told the Associated Press.
In a kind of old-school wireless set-up, bin Laden would write messages on his computer, save them to the drives, and then hand them to the couriers, who would go to distant internet cafes to send them. Couriers would reverse the process for incoming messages.
U.S. forces found about 100 flash drives and a number of computers in the compound during the operation that left the terrorist leader dead, and, according to the AP, the trove contained thousands of messages and perhaps hundreds of email addresses. Officials say the documents reveal that bin Laden remained much more involved in Al Qaeda’s operations than they had assumed.
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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com