One of history's most notorious terrorists spent the last years of his life cowering in fear.
Osama bin Ladin was extremely paranoid of the threat of imminent drone strikes and hidden tracking devices during his years hiding on the outskirts of Abbottabad, Pakisan, according to recently declassified documents captured during the raid on his compound by U.S. Navy Seals in which the al-Qaeda leader was killed.
In the 113 documents available from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's website Bin Laden's Bookshelf, glimpses into Bin Laden's paranoid state can be found in various letters dating back to 2009.
In a letter to the al-Qaeda captors of Afghan diplomat Abdul Khaliq Farahi, who has held by terrorists until 2010, bin Laden insisted that upon receiving the ransom, his aide should "get rid of the suitcase in which the funds are delivered, due to the possibility of it having a tracking chip in it."
He also added that al-Qaeda negotiators should not venture outside "except on a cloudy overcast day," presumably to avoid detection by armed U.S. drones.
The degree to which the fear affected the terrorist organization appears militant's willingness to take rash action at the behest of their increasingly-paranoid leader. One document shows nonchalance by an unnamed al-Qaeda member after Bin Laden ordered the execution of jihadist volunteers suspected of spying who later turned out to be innocent. "I did not mention this to justify what has happened," the author wrote. "We are in an intelligence battle and humans are humans and no one is infallible."
Perhaps the most telling insight into bin Laden's mentality shows his concern over a trip his wife made to a dentist. Under the pseudonym Abu Abdallah, he expressed concern over the possibility of a tracker hidden in a dental filling, stating "the size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli."
As more of these documents are made available to the public, we're provided with a fascinating new portrait of the notorious late terrorist: one of a paranoid, scared man, terrified that the U.S. would roll up on his doorstep any day.
And that's exactly what happened.