The World According to Usama bin Laden

Let us recall Usama bin Laden’s complaints and disagreements about the conduct of American Foreign Policy.

1) That the United States had a collaborationist relationship with the House of Saud. Mr bin Laden saw Saudi Arabia as an apostate that allowed western forces to occupy the land of the sacred sites of Mecca and Medina and enabled them to use forward support basing for both the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

2) That the United States had supported Israeli occupation of Palestine and the suppression of the intifadas. The Palestine issue has been central in Mr bin Laden’s and Al Qaeda’s programme of resistance against the United States.

3) That governments such as Jordan, Egypt, Libya were equally culpable in refusing to ally themselves with opponents of the United States and Israel.

4) That Israel, with American support, had invaded Lebanon in 1982 and devastated the capital and attacked civilian structures throughout the area.

5) While deeply distrustful and hostile toward Saddam Hussein, whom Mr bin Laden called a “thief and apostate,” the sanctions against Iraq which led to the deaths of 100,000s of children was a major issue for Mr bin Laden. He believed the U.S. was guilty of mass murder of Muslim innocents in that land. He frequently stated that Muslims are called terrorists when they kill Americans, but only silence is greeted when Muslims are killed. This notion of a disequilibrium in the value of life of Muslims cannot be underestimated in understanding the world of Al Qaeda

6) Mr bin Laden also saw American-Israeli collaboration as part of a global crusade against Islam. He cited Chechnya, the Philippines, Lebanon, Palestine, Indonesia, Kashmir as examples of his depiction of a global clash of civilisations.

7) He interpreted the “War Against Terrorism” as a “War Against Islam.” This is the clash of civilisations that Samuel Huntington envisioned in his classic Foreign Affairs article. How we got to this point is demonstrative of the lack of creative leadership in the West and other elements as well in the world of Islam.

These criticisms preceded the Bush administration’s attack on Iraq in March 2003 and certainly before the September 11, 2001 assaults. It is important that we keep in mind the specific complaints and arguments that Usama has articulated against America. This might contribute to a more intellectual and reasoned approach to this deepening conflict with its portentous results.

The Al Qaeda leader’s name is spelled either “Osama” or “Usama” in English. The “bin” is part of a Muslim male’s birthname. It refers to being a son: in this case the son of Laden. I have also seen it spelled “ibn.” I guess we use “jr” don’t we to denote a male being named after a father? In this case it merely identifies the son of a father.

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