Google Linguist’s Works Found on Bin Laden Compound Reading List

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri

Source: Al-Jazeera television/via Bloomberg

On the reading list for residents at Osama bin Laden’s compound were works by authors including Noam Chomsky, Bob Woodward — and Fayeq Oweis, an Arabic-language specialist who now works at Google Inc.

Oweis’s works found in the 2011 raid of the compound included “Arabic Calligraphy Workshop,” a “published work sample” and his resume, according to documents released by the U.S. No other details were given. According to his LinkedIn profile, Oweis has been working with Google since 2006 and has been a full-time employee since 2011. He currently helps manage a team of specialists and linguists covering 10 languages.

While he might not be as widely recognized as some of the other authors found at the Pakistan compound, Oweis has been quoted in media around the Middle East. He also is an artist whose works have been shown in the U.S. and the Middle East, and taught language and culture at schools including Santa Clara University and San Jose State University, according to his website. He is the author of the “Encyclopedia of Arab American Artists” and “Pocket Guide to Arabic Script.”

His accomplishments didn’t come easy. He grew up in Ramallah, Palestine, where he wrote poetry, and then moved to San Francisco when he was 18 to pursue education, according to a video of a TEDx talk he gave in Dubai and posted on his Twitter account. Because he had no money, he would work seven days a week at restaurants and grocery stores to help make ends meet, according to the talk in 2014, entitled “I am from there, I am from here.”

In a 2002 article published on Oweis’s website, which was also included on the list from bin Laden’s compound, he refers to the “tragic events of 9/11” and discusses the role of Islamic art as a educational tool in the teaching of Islam.

Oweis didn’t return messages seeking comment. Mountain View, California-based Google declined to comment.

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