Following the successful May 2, 2011 “Operation Neptune Spear” raid on the Abbottabad compound, which resulted in the execution of Osama bin Laden, his son, and three other colleagues, US Navy SEALs recovered ten computer hard drives, documents, DVDs, over a hundred flash drives, a dozen cell phones, and other electronic equipment. The materials were initially analyzed at a secret location in Afghanistan, where data forensics specialists organized and researched the material looking for actionable items relative to the United States interest in targeting Al-Qaeda.
In November of 2017, the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States released the complete contents of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad digital library collected from the raid. This release followed several previous Freedom of Information Act partial disclosures in 2015 and 2016 which included declassified material, digital novels, media articles and religious documents. This now complete collection of data includes system files, propaganda videos, software tutorials, religious audio sermons, western television shows and movies, home-movies, and document files, approximately 470,000 files in all.
As Sahab/The Cloud is a collection of hydroprinted computational sculptures generated using photogrammatery methods that attempt to render landscapes that appear in combat videos taken from the Abbottabad archive. The forms are created from the video files of As-Sahab Foundation for Islamic Media Publication, the media production house of al-Qaeda. The Foundation was co-created and run by Adam Gadahn (formerly Adam Pearlman). Gadahn was an American born in Oregon who expatriated and joined Al-Qaeda around 2001 and was subsequently placed on the FBI's most wanted list with a million dollar reward offered for his capture. Gadahn was killed in a drone strike conducted by the CIA in 2015.