On May 1 — one day before the first anniversary of Operation Neptune Spear, the special operations mission that led to the killing of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden — Discovery Channel will premiere the one-hour special Secrets of Bin Laden’s Lair. The program reports on currently classified intelligence seized during the May 2, 2011, raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan (pictured above the day after the raid), and is narrated by NBC News correspondent Harry Smith.
When the United States Navy SEALs killed bin Laden during the operation, they captured a prize far greater and more valuable than his body — a treasure trove of intelligence gathered in the minutes afterward, that included 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices with 15,000 distinct separate documents, along with between 15,000 and 25,000 snippets of video (“bin Laden’s home movies. That’s the easiest way to describe it,” says NBC News senior investigative producer Robert Windrem. “It was not video of targets. Instead, it was things like video of daily life around the compound. A lot of videos of chickens, of cows, of rabbits, of dogs”).
Access to this top-secret intelligence was granted to a select few outside of the intelligence community. Discovery, with NBC News, was given an exclusive briefing on the classified information by a senior U.S. Counterterrorism official. NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski was among those who attended the briefing.
Secrets of Bin Laden’s Lair looks at the efforts to seize all of this intelligence and analyze it, which included a team of 200 intelligence analysts and 100 linguists. It also features interviews with the government insiders and journalists who were briefed on the intelligence. That intelligence provides insight into bin Laden’s leadership of Al-Qaeda, details about other terrorist groups he corresponded with (including Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group that attacked Mumbai in 2008), his life on the run, how he evaded capture for so many years and the plots he was scheming. There is also much to learn about his personal life, as well as that of the numerous wives who lived with him in his compound.
Additionally, the materials reveal bin Laden’s interest in manipulating media coverage, his desire to offer exclusive reports to news networks, and he and his advisor’s choice words about the U.S. cable news wars, and their thoughts on MSNBC, CNN and FOX News Channel.
Frightening intelligence also reveals direct quotes from bin Laden on his plan to assassinate President Obama: “Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him will automatically make Biden take over the presidency … Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis,” said bin Laden.
According to Gretchen Eisele, Executive Producer of Peacock Productions, which produces this special, “I think people will be very surprised by what they will learn in this special about Osama bin Laden. It underscores why we spent years hunting him down, but it also unmasks him, revealing a more nuanced and complex picture of the world’s most wanted terrorist.”
Secrets of Bin Laden’s Lair premieres on Discovery Channel May 1 at 10pm ET/PT.