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Browsing in bin Laden’s library II

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — following up on Browsing in bin Laden’s library ]

Marcy Wheeler at Salon reports of the ODNI’s Bin Laden’s Bookshelf (expanded form, .pdf) that “the categorization imposed by ODNI” consists “largely of overlapping categories of English-language materials worthy of a Jorge Luis Borges short story.

Categories include:


The Borges “short story” referenced here isn’t in fact a short story but an essay, The Analytical Language of John Wilkins, which includes a classification system “which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled ‘Celestial Empire of benevolent Knowledge'”. Borges’ spurious taxonomy divides the animal kingdom into the following categories:

(a) belonging to the emperor,
(b) embalmed,
(c) tame,
(d) sucking pigs,
(e) sirens,
(f) fabulous,
(g) stray dogs,
(h) included in the present classification,
(i) frenzied,
(j) innumerable,
(k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
(l) et cetera,
(m) having just broken the water pitcher,
(n) that from a long way off look like flies.

Nicely observed, Marcy.


Of particular personal note considering my interest in games:

Under the heading “Documents Probably Used by Other Compound Residents” we find listed:

  • Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide
  • Game Spot Videogame Guide
  • One wonders (idly) whether ODNI cannot believe OBL would play such games, or whether that classification was arrived at on the basis of the location in the compound where these materials were found.

    And given my interest in religion:

    Under the heading “Think Tank & Other Studies”:

  • Program for the Study of International Organizations (PSIO), “Hizb ut-Tahrir: The Next Al-Qaeda, Really?” by Jean-Francois Mayer (2004)
  • And under the heading “Other religious documents”:

    a treatise on Christianity by one Monqith Ben Mahmoud Assaqar PhD, titled Was Jesus crucified for our atonement? — which opens with the following (presumably post-doctoral) statement of scholarship-to-date:

    Praise to Allah (S.W) , the cherisher and sustainer of the worlds, and may peace and blessings be upon all of His messengers. In our previous parts of this series “True guidance and light series”, we have concluded and confirmed a plain truth, which is that the Holy Bible, as we have seen, is man work, and not the word of Allah (S.W) in any way. Thus, Christians cannot present it as evidence for any of their creeds or events, including the crucifixion and the Atonement.

    FWIW, reading this treatise will likely not have helped OBL in his quest for interfaith understanding.

    Browsing in bin Laden’s library

    Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — always interested in other people’s books, & with a keen eye for eccentric choices ]

    Steve Jackson Games Illuminati WTC card

    Steve Jackson Games Illuminati WTC card


    Every terrorism library – and every terrorist’s library, too, maybe – should have at least one conspiracist book in it, and Bin Laden’s library apparently had several – I’d likely count America’s “War on Terrorism” by Michel Chossudovsky and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins among them — but I’m impressed he had a copy of Michael Ruppert’s Crossing the Rubicon, my own choice for that category on account of its chapter on games.

    Interesting, too, that he had a copy of the Select Committee on Intelligence report on Project MKULTRA, “the CIA’s program of research in behavioral modification.”

    Way more interesting, though, is his seemingly owning a copy of Manley P Hall’s great opus, The Secret Teachings of All Ages – “An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy: Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings Concealed within the Rituals, Allegories and Mysteries of All Ages” — the date 1928 is given in ODNI’s listing of his English language books, so I’m wondering if he had the same huge, wood-boxed early edition I once had, now retailing for $1,500.

    And then there’s the kicker. Bin Laden apparently had a copy of the article Website claims Steve Jackson game foretold 9/11 — still up on the web — see illustration above.

    That’s just too rich!

    Human ping-pong

    Monday, May 18th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron – reports from the twitter-stream — and this is only the game as played at sea ]


    In more detail:


    Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean:

    The two paths of the Islamic State

    Friday, May 15th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — guide books for the perplexed ]

    In his latest audiotape, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi offers two paths to those willing to follow him:

    So there is no excuse for any Muslim who is capable of performing hijrah to the Islamic State, or capable of carrying a weapon where he is, for Allah (the Blessed and Exalted) has commanded him with hijrah and jih?d, and has made fighting obligatory upon him.

    And we call upon every Muslim in every place to perform hijrah to the Islamic State or fight in his land wherever that may be.

    Conveniently, there are two guidboos available in the Black Flags series, each of which deals with one of those paths:

    SPEC DQ 2 books IS


    My own recommendations would be somewhat different:

  • do no harm
  • on the whole avoid anyplace mentioned in Robert Young Pelton‘s The World’s Most Dangerous Places, and
  • find joy in the fleeting moment
  • **

    SPEC DQ double pelton

    A song of the narco-miraculous

    Friday, May 15th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — on dark spirituality, magic and apocalyptic ]

    I’ve received a review copy of Tony Kail’s Narco-Cults, and by chance when I first opened it, my eye fell on a miracle story.


    Here, in a clip from a narcocorrido video, is an officer of the US Border Patrol vanishing into thin air as the result of a Santeria invocation:

    narco miracle

    Here’s the book’s narrative description of that event:

    Consider the following story. A Cuban Santería priest speaks into a twoway radio as three Hispanic men cross over the border into Arizona. One of the men, who is transporting drugs under his clothes, wears several multicolored Santería necklaces (elekes). The man responds to the priest on the radio as a U.S. Border Patrol agent begins to follow him. As the “coyotes” begin to run from the agent, the agent draws his weapon and aims it at the smugglers. As the priest whispers an incantation into the radio, the agent mysteriously disappears into thin air. The men jump into the agent’s truck and drive away as the priest kneels before the image of Elegua, a Santería deity who is believed to be the owner of fate and the crossroads. mages of drug smugglers bowing in front of statues of saints and figures like Santa Muerte are seen as music begins to play away in the background.

    This is a scene from a popular narco music video called La Clika Del Elegua from Mexican musician El Pelon Avile. The video is a perfect depiction of how spiritual traditions are used by modern-day drug smugglers for protection in the drug war.

    Here’s the video of the narcocorrido in which the miracle is depicted:


    Turning the page, we find:

    The heavy scent of spirituality among the cartels is so prevalent that some members of law enforcement have sought shelter in magical religions for protection. Members of the Mexican police have been documented in the media as undergoing various rituals for protection from the cartels. Some officers have even had tattoos of sacred religious symbols placed on their bodies to give them magical protection. One officer in Tijuana shared that his tattoos gave him protection from bullets that killed his comrades during a gunfight.

    How far is that from, say, this:

    Christian group brushes aside death threat from kidnappers

    Death threats against 13 Christian preachers from their Muslim extremist captors are not a concern as the evangelists are confident God will protect them, a member of the Christian ministry said Thursday.

    The kidnapped head of the Jesus Miracle Crusade, fiery televangelist Wilde Almeda, particularly has special powers that will protect him from bullets, said Robert Chua, a member of the group.

    Or for that matter:

    The Second Battle Of Adobe Walls

    A charismatic medicine man, named Ish-Ta-Ma, claimed he could make the warriors bullet proof and that his bowel movements would provide rifle cartridges. ..

    Emboldened by Ish-Ta-Ma’s prophesies, the combined tribes of Southern Cheyenne, Comanche and Kiowa, near one thousand strong, advanced towards Adobe Walls before daylight in what should have been an easy route. Fate was not in their favor.


    Thomas Muentzer

    When the final showdown comes in 1525, the peasants are arrayed against the German princes and their army, and Thomas Muentzer continues to assure them, even at the last moment, that Christ will intervene on their side. This is the apocalyptic moment foretold in the Revelation. They’re singing hymns. They literally are awaiting a glorious triumph. Muentzer assures them that he will catch the cannonballs in his shirthsleeves. Of course, it turned into a slaughter. Five thousand ill-equipped peasants were slaughtered. The Peasants’ Revolt was utterly destroyed. It was one of those incredible explosions of apocalypticism that arise in history.

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