Osama bin Laden Would Not Have Taken Ramadi

The new trove of bin Laden documents reveals just how different al Qaeda and the Islamic State really are.

“Please remind the brothers in Somalia to be compassionate with the people and remind them of the Hadiths on this.” That’s Osama bin Laden writing in 2007 to his operational commander about al Qaeda’s murderous affiliate in Somalia, urging them to be more gentle in waging jihad and to focus on the real enemy: the United States. “Please talk to the Somali brothers about reducing the harm to Muslims at Bakarah Market [in Mogadishu] as result of attacking the headquarters of the African forces.”

That letter is part of a tranche of documents released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Wednesday, and it illustrates the emerging divide between al Qaeda, the old school of the jihadi movement, and the new school upstarts, the Islamic State.