Inside the world’s most top secret museum

Callum Jones

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Inside the world’s most top secret museum

Featured Image Credit: CIA

The CIA museum is perhaps the most secretive museum in the world and it's very rare anyone outside of the agency is allowed in.

However, in an unexpected move, the CIA allowed a number of reporters, including ones from the BBC, to investigate the hidden grounds.

The museum is located in the headquarters of the CIA in Langley, Virginia, US and features items from many momentous days in history, including the gun that was found on Osama Bin Laden when he was killed in 2011.

Also among the 600 artefacts on display is Saddam Hussein's leather jacket and some cold war spy gadgets.

The museum is usually only open to CIA staff. Credit: BBC News
The museum is usually only open to CIA staff. Credit: BBC News

Journalists lucky to be on the visit could even find a 'dead drop rat' in which messages could be hidden, a pigeon with its own spy-camera and even an exploding martini glass.

However, there are details on some of the CIA's most important and famous operations.

One of them on display is a scale model of the Pakistani compound that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in.

In the broadcast by the BBC, the tour guide reveals that US president at the time, Barack Obama, was shown this model before approving the operation to kill Bin Laden.

Robert Z Byer, the museum's director, told the BBC: "Being able to see things in 3D actually helped the policymakers…as well as help our operators to plan the mission."

The museum also features artefacts from more recent CIA missions, including that of the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who lead the planning of the 9/11 attacks with Bin Laden.

On 1 July this year, President Biden viewed a model of the compound Zawahiri was in so he could approve the operation.

The museum includes models of special operations, including this one of the compound Osama Bin Laden was hiding in before his death in 2011. Credit: CIA
The museum includes models of special operations, including this one of the compound Osama Bin Laden was hiding in before his death in 2011. Credit: CIA

Later that month, he was killed after being hit with a precise air strike while on his balcony after US intelligence tracked his movements for months.

The tour guide said the museum is not just for history's sake like any other museum.

"This museum is not just a Museum for history's sake. This is an operational museum. We are taking CIA officers [through it], exploring our history, both good and bad," he explained.

"We make sure that our officers understand their history, so that they can do a better job in the future. We have to learn from our successes, and our failures in order to be better in the future."

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Topics: News, US News

Callum Jones
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