I am delighted to draw your attention to the fact that the Conflict Records Research Center (CRRC) is now open to scholars at the National Defense University. It presently contains a collection of some 22,000 pages of records captured from Saddam’s regime and from Al Qaida and its allies. However, that total is simply a drop in the bucket compared to where it is going to be. The collection grows on a daily basis and there is reason to believe that that growth will accelerate over time.
The CRRC’s website describes the two collections this way:
The Saddam records consist of a wide range of government files—audio recordings of high-level meetings, speeches by Saddam and senior officials, correspondence between ministries, records of the Presidential Diwan, and others—that bear mainly on issues related to national security, defense policy, and diplomacy. These records are categorized by their originating agency or office (for instance, Iraqi Intelligence Service or General Military Intelligence Directorate), and will eventually constitute the vast majority of CRRC holdings.
The [Al Qaida] records also consist of a wide range of files, including everything from al Qaeda “pocket litter” to financial records, theological and ideological documents, strategic plans, operational guidebooks, and histories of individual operations from the Afghan war in the 1980s through the early 2000s. These documents are grouped thematically. There are also a small number of documents generated by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
The website is a little sparse at the moment, but expect it to grow richer over time. I imagine that Jessica Huckabey, the acting director (and a friend and occasional co-author of mine) can give you more information on the collection, its future prospects, and how to use it.
I do know that at the moment only documents with full English translations are being entered into the database, so don’t allow lack of Arabic skills to deter you. The originals were “seized” as provided for under international law and are held by the US Government. The US and the Iraqi Governments have agreed that Iraq will receive the originals back. Don’t count on Al Qaida ever getting their documents back. The records open to scholars at the CRRC consist of digital copies of the originals, plus translations and file information sheets. In other words, this is the modern day equivalent of the microfilming of the German, Japanese, and Italian records that were captured in World War II. It is also worth noting that the records at the CRRC are not the Ba’ath Party records that are held at the Hoover Institution nor the so-called “Jewish Archives” which are at the U.S. National Archives. (
In a past life I worked with the materials that Jessica and her colleagues are migrating into the CRRC and I can tell you that for those scholars interested in modern Iraq, terrorism, or modern military history, there is a goldmine here. Reputations to be made. Dissertations to be written….