Students at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point have found a way to study the enemy from the inside out by using declassified documents that were found in safe houses and training camps and then given to the center by the Department of Defense.
"The students really get a better appreciation for what the enemy really looks like, how the enemy functions, and how we might respond to that," said Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Felter, the director at CTC.
Some documents reveal a side of Al Qaeda rarely seen in their propaganda videos. For example, cadets discovered an Al Qaeda employment contract which contains salary and vacation plan details. Married jihadists receive 6,500 rupees, or about $108.00, with 700 rupees for each additional wife.
Other documents reveal divisions within Al Qaeda. Disputes range from bickering over cell expenses to arguments about strategy.
The 2006 class of cadets graduates tomorrow. President Bush will be speaking at their commencement ceremony. Within weeks, many cadets could be leading platoons in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"If we help prepare them now for this difficult and long war that they may be involved in," said LTC. Felter, "then maybe we can make it a little bit shorter."