This morning the government released a trove of documents that were found at Osama bin Laden’s compound after he was killed, and among them were letters in which Bin Laden gave advice on how magazines should operate. As you might have guessed, Bin Laden would’ve been quite the stickler with his editors.
A few of his ideas:
It is important for you to focus a portion of your interest on the Mujahidin (This means “Those doing jihad,” or “strugglers”) publications; provide them with advice and guidance to avoid the mistakes that would impact either the reputation of the Mujahidin and the sympathy of the nation’s masses or that would impact the mind and the character of the youths — who rely mainly in their culture on the publications issued by the Mujahidin and their partisans.
A sound recommendation. Content should be less “We just killed a whole bunch of innocent people” and more “17 stylish ways to wear explosives.”
I request that you prepare a memorandum that would include general guidelines on how the Mujahidin publications should be.
We think the editors under Bin Laden would learn rather quickly that a request was a demand. In fact, FishbowlNY hears that — back in 2007 — one lieutenant who refused Bin Laden’s “request” to stop wearing jean shorts to meetings was never seen again.
We shall then inform you of the committee that we are in the process of forming (I sent its formation to Shaykh
Sa’id – May God have mercy on him); that committee will have the privilege of reviewing and postponing any publications assessed to be outside the general policy.
Again, a smart idea by Bin Laden. As a magazine magnate, he should want the various titles to convey one central brand image. Even if that image is sort of a bummer.