NEW YORK – A computer taken from a building used by Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda in Afghanistan contains letters and memos about the organization's internal operations, justifications for attacks, and efforts to obtain chemical weapons, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
A looter said he got the desktop computer in Kabul after a U.S. bombing raid in November that killed several senior officials of Al Qaeda, the Journal said.
The Journal said it bought the machine from the looter for $1,100, and that U.S. officials had confirmed the authenticity of the files it contained.
A U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press on Monday that the computer appeared to have been used by Al Qaeda. The official declined to comment on whether U.S. intelligence had access to or a copy of the hard drive.
The terrorist group functioned like a multinational corporation, with memos referring to Al Qaeda as "the company" and its leadership as "the general management," the newspaper said.
One memo referred to a "legal study" of the killing of civilians, in which the writer said he had found ways to keep "the enemy" from using the killing of "civilians, specifically women and children," to undermine the militants' cause, the Journal said.
A letter addressed to top Al Qaeda lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahri said "hitting the Americans and Jews is a target of great value and has its rewards in this life and, God willing, the afterlife," the Journal said. The author of the letter said he had written to bin Laden separately.
Another letter on the computer's hard drive sought an interview with a bitter enemy of Al Qaeda, the anti-Taliban leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, to be conducted by "one of our best journalists, Mr. Karim Touzani," the Journal said.
Massoud was fatally injured by a bomb Sept. 9 while being interviewed by two men posing as journalists, one carrying a passport in the name of Karim Touzani.
A video file made after Sept. 11 uses television footage of people fleeing the World Trade Center, combined with a sound track of mocking chants and prayers in Arabic, the Journal said.
Text files include an outline of an Al Qaeda project to develop chemical and biological weapons, code-named al-Zabadi, Arabic for curdled milk, the newspaper said.
One memo, apparently written by al-Zawahri, says "the destructive power of these weapons is no less than that of nuclear weapons," the Journal said.
The memo adds that "we only became aware of them when the enemy drew our attention to them by repeatedly expressing concern that they can be produced simply."
Mundane material was in the computer, too. One document was a sign for an office that said, "Dear brothers, This is a workplace! For those who do not work here, please do not enter at all."