How Osama bin Laden Sent E-Mail

As more details come to light about bin Laden's life of the past few years, we're learning how the leader of Al-Qaeda communicated to his underlings through e-mail—even though he didn't have an internet connection in his compound.

A counterterrorism official briefed the Associated Press on bin Laden's methods and turns out, it was a process to get a message out. But still, he was a prolific e-mailer! The AP says that since his home didn't have any phone lines or Internet access, bin Laden would type out his e-mails offline and then save it to a thumb drive. And then:

[bin Laden] then passed the flash drive to a trusted courier, who would head for a distant Internet cafe. At that location, the courier would plug the memory drive into a computer, copy bin Laden's message into an email and send it. Reversing the process, the courier would copy any incoming email to the flash drive and return to the compound, where bin Laden would read his messages offline.


This primitive method of e-mailing allowed bin Laden to contact his people without being detected by the US for years. The Navy SEALs involved in the operation to kill bin Laden pulled away a hundred or so thumb drives and have e-mail address and archives of back-and-forth communication between bin Laden and his associates. Hopefully, something will come out of it. [AP]



Is anyone else having trouble with the phrase "primitive method of e-mailing"? Feels like 'dry method of swimming' or 'dark method of lighting'. Isn't e-mail non-primitive by virtue of being electronic?