Babylon & Beyond

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MIDDLE EAST: Al Qaeda as petty, pencil-pushing penny pinchers

April 16, 2008 |  9:27 am


A spate of articles in the Los Angeles Times chronicled the recent activities of the Al Qaeda network, which continues to be an unsettling force in the region.

A report in today's paper by Sebastian Rotella takes a look at Al Qaeda's lighter side. Recently declassified documents reveal inner workings of the group.

Turns out Al Qaeda operates a lot more like the dysfunctional firm in the television show "The Office" than the slick bands of bad guys in a James Bond movie.

Here's the text from one memo sent by an Al Qaeda manager to a disobedient subordinate:

I was very upset by what you did. I obtained 75,000 rupees for you and your family's trip to Egypt. I learned that you did not submit the voucher to the accountant, and that you made reservations for 40,000 rupees and kept the remainder claiming you have a right to do so. . . . Also with respect to the air-conditioning unit, . . . furniture used by brothers in Al Qaeda is not considered private property. . . . I would like to remind you and myself of the punishment for any violation.

Click here to the read the whole story.

—Times staff writer

Photo: Mohammed Atef, left, sits with Osama bin Laden, right, and Bin Laden's son Mohammed in early 2001. Documents show Al Qaeda's obsession with paperwork. Credit: AFP