The Abu Zubaydah Diaries

Al Jazeera America is featuring this month the exclusive Abu Zubaydah Diaries that show the personal reflections and commentaries of an Al-Qaeda terrorist. Abu Zubaydah is imprisoned in Guantanamo bay and was considered by the Bush administration to be one of the major characters on the war on terror.


AJAM has released the diaries on it’s webpage and is offering considerable amounts of reporting on what the document contains. The diary offers a unique possibility to look into the mind and really learn about this Abu, not only as a terrorist but also as a person.

But what the diaries do reveal is something of the complexity of Abu Zubaydah and of the networks and personalities that produced Al-Qaeda. The diaries reveal a mindscape that mingles a fondness for the casual trappings of Western culture — such as cheesy pop music and Pepsi — with hard-core anti-Western sentiments and a willingness to embrace violence and death for the cause.

If you visit the AJAM website you will see on the right hand corner of the screen a link with a picture leading to the collection of reporting that has been done on the diaries as well as the diary itself. If you click on it the link will lead you to a page with content divided in three parts, varying from opinion pieces, to hard news, to pictures.

The diaries not only open the door to the psychology of Zubaydah, but also on the conditions of the Guantanamo prison and the events of his life that led him to where he is today. The diary discloses the horrible tortures that are done to the prisoners in Guantanamo. Also it sheds some light on the question of the mental sanity of Zubaydah. AJAM did great reporting  by acquiring the diary and also by recognizing the archival value that it holds.

AJAM has been exploring the issue with all sorts of different angles: from what it means fro reporters in the digital era to go back to the the document as a source, to the man himself and what brought him on the top most wanted list.

I do not know how most people feel about the release of this new information, since there tends to be little or no sympathy for terrorists. Yet I believe it’s very informative and interesting to offer different perspectives and exit our “filter bubble” of sorts. Also AJAM should be praised for managing to obtain the diary itself.  They had asked for them through the Freedom Of Information Act having heard from frequent quotes that it had been confiscated by the CIA. AJAM failed twice before they finally managed to retrieve the document by a  former U.S. government official who worked with the CIA and FBI. I believe It is a great example of reporting and journalism.

Here is a YouTube interview with Jason Leopold, the AJAM investigative reporter who covers Guantanamo prison and had a large part in retrieving the diary.


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