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The national security state crafts an enormous volume of materials “connecting the dots” between seemingly unrelated events and people to identify and anatomize sources of threat. This essay traces the production and circulation of these forms of bureaucratic and judicial artifice, or national security fictions, which are the everyday currency of state-led conspiracy theorizing. The chapter takes up the example of documents seized by US soldiers in a raid on an Islamic charity, and it shows how, through the questionable use of these documents in a federal court case, they came to be widely cited as minutes of the founding meetings of al-Qa‘ida. The trajectory of these documents reveals how rules of evidence governing the use of hearsay can operate as a form of judicially supervised conspiracy theorization. This chapter sketches the citational afterlives of these documents, from a sprawling multibillion dollar lawsuit against Saudi Arabia to canonical histories of the rise of al-Qa‘ida.

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