After the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Osama Bin Laden was forced to flee the city of Kandahar, where he had been based since 1997. Several compounds were hastily vacated, including one, opposite the Taliban foreign ministry, where al-Qaeda bigwigs met. Inside it, 1,500 cassettes were waiting to be discovered.
Picking through the ransacked property, an Afghan family found this haul of audio tapes, which they swiftly removed and took to a local cassette shop – with the Taliban now gone, there was money to be made producing previously banned pop music, and these were ripe for wiping and filling with the hit songs of the day.
But a cameraman working for CNN heard about the haul, and convinced the shop owner to hand the tapes back, saying what they contained could be important. He was right. This was, after all, al-Qaeda’s own audio library.