CIA archive reveals that Osama bin Laden liked retro-games and anime

9-11 mastermind and nominal Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011 during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A massive amount of intelligence was seized during the raid, including hundreds of thousands of files stored on Bin Laden's hard drive. Today, the CIA released nearly 470,000 of those files, and it turns out that not only was he the world's most infamous terrorist, he also had a thing for retro-gaming and anime. 

The archive has been conveniently divided into four categories—audio, documents, images, and video—but is nonetheless a massive thing to dig through. But if you're willing, it's all there: Images of everything from Pac-Man to Perestroika Girls, including both title and gameplay screens. A lot of it is the sort of digital detritus you inevitably pick up while surfing the web, banners for Irish betting sites and pictures of Whitney Houston, and of course there are photos of guns and potential targets and what I assume are terrorist training videos. But there's also a full-length copy of the Street Fighter 4: The Ties That Bind anime film in there, too—subtitled in Arabic, of course. 

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The CIA noted that some materials collected during the raid have not been made public. Some of the omissions are obvious, like material related to national security, but discovered malware was also removed, as was porn (so apparently there was some), and perhaps most interesting of all, copyrighted content, which altogether paints a rather mundane portrait of an unremarkable mind: 

  • Antz
  • Batman Gotham Knight
  • BBC Great Wildlife Moments
  • Biography – Osama bin Laden
  • Cars
  • Chicken Little
  • CNN Presents: World’s Most Wanted
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Heroes of Tomorrow
  • Home on the Range
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
  • In the Footsteps of bin Laden – CNN
  • National Geographic: Kung Fu Killers
  • National Geographic: Inside the Green Berets
  • National Geographic: Predators at War
  • National Geographic: World’s Worst Venom
  • Peru Civilization
  • Resident Evil
  • Storm Rider – Clash of the Evils
  • The Kremlin from Inside
  • The Story of India
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Where in the World is Osama bin Laden

The agency also warned that, despite its curation efforts, the collection may include content that is "offensive and/or emotionally disturbing," and thus not suitable for all ages. It could also contain malware: "Prior to accessing this file collection, please understand that this material was seized from a terrorist organization," it wrote. "While the files underwent interagency review, there is no absolute guarantee that all malware has been removed."

Sufficiently cautioned, you may jump in with both feet at

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.