Senior Al Qaeda Leader’s Notebook Reveals Secrets

Senior Al Qaeda Leader’s Notebook Seized — Al-Libbi’s Notebook Believed to Contain Valuable Contact Information, Source Says (ABC News)

– U.S. officials are working feverishly to decipher numbers and apparent codes in a notebook retrieved from suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Faraj al-Libbi, ABC News has learned. Al-Libbi — believed to be third in command of al Qaeda leader after Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri — was arrested by Pakistani authorities on Monday.


Sources said officials believe al-Libbi’s seized notebook contains “hot” contact information. They said officials are hopeful the notebook contains useful information because al-Libbi was stunned when he was captured. One senior official described al-Libbi as “shocked” and enraged. “He thought he was invincible,” the source said. “He was caught with his pants down. This was not the time and place of his choosing.” Al-Libbi was trying to destroy the notebook when he was apprehended, multiple sources said.

While it’s conceivable that al-Libbi had a fake notebook to provide false intelligence in case of capture, it’s rather unlikely. This could be a great breakthrough, indeed.

My understanding on the nature of al Qaeda is that it is incredibly cellular and, indeed, essentially an umbrella organization for multiple independent terrorist groups. It’s unlikely al-Libbi was privy to the names of all the key leaders, let alone all their plans. Al Qaeda wouldn’t necessarily collapse even if bin Laden and al-Zawahiri were killed or captured this afternoon. It’s worth a try, though.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. BobN says:

    Boy, it sure is great that they found this notebook! I hope they keep us posted as they decode it. This could be thing to win the War on Terror!!!

    You almost have to feel sorry for bin-Laden, holed up somewhere with no way whatsoever to know what we’re up to…

    Uh.. this is a secure message board, right?