How do you find Osama bin Laden? Look for recycling bins in the Afghan desert.
In the latest tape released by the infamous religious extremist, he claimed, “All of the industrialized countries, especially the big ones, bear responsibility for the global warming crisis.” The tape, which was given to the Al Jazeera network for release, has not yet been confirmed as authentic.
If this is indeed Mr. bin Laden, it certainly is a change of pace from what we normally hear. In his last tape, which was released just over a month ago, he claimed that al Qaida was responsible for the Dec. 25 bombing attempt in Detroit. In this new tape, he sounds more like a liberal European economist than fundamentalist Afghani terrorist.
In the tape, Mr. bin Laden criticizes the United States for not adopting the Kyoto protocol, claims that people should boycott the U.S. dollar as a currency and makes the statement that, “Noam Chomsky was correct when he compared the U.S. policies to those of the Mafia,” according to the transcript released by Al Jazeera.
Noam Chomsky is Jewish.
So why the sudden change from “death to America” to “death to U.S. monetary policy and ecological ignorance”? The mainstream opinion being battered around on the Internet and major news networks is that bin Laden is attempting to gather support from a larger base of people, namely eco-terrorists and domestic political dissidents. Most newspersons agree that this is an attempt to damage the resilience and reputation of the United States in a non-violent way.
What is compelling about this change is not so much that bin Laden is adding this new rhetoric and abandoning the “holy warrior” message, but that he is trying to broaden the struggle against the United States by highlighting other items on the list of evils that our government has perpetrated. He is, in a sense, trading ideology for populism. In one instance on the transcript he encourages the American people who have lost their jobs in the mortgage crisis to abandon the dollar because it serves banking and corporate interest.
Does this make Osama bin Laden less extreme or more pragmatic? Truth be told, a lot of people would agree with some of the stances he made in his latest tape, even some of the most dedicated supporters of national defense. As President Barack Obama said at the State of the Union address, “I hated the bank bailout, you hated the bank bailout, it was about as popular as a root canal.” Yet because of corporate and bank interest, we did it anyway.
Since the beginning of the release of these tapes, the United States has sought to paint bin Laden as a radical who is attempting to destroy the American way of life because of his Islamic ideology. Of late, closer examination reveals that these messages are more about challenging a corrupted system of hegemony, run by greedy capitalists and warmongers.
Even though there is an Islamic consensus within al Qaida, new elements are being added to the concept of what constitutes a terrorist. This procession of events raises many questions. Will we one day count protesting environmentalists, tea partiers, or socialists among our enemies of the state? What if there is a worldwide consensus that the United States must relinquish its self-imposed role as the policeman of the world? Will the United States simply declare anti-U.S. actions as terrorism? Can a majority opinion still be called terrorism?
While I would never go as far to say that I agree with Osama bin Laden about politics, I can begin to understand that this man might have genuine grievances and reasons for becoming a terrorist. He is not wrong to say that our government cares more about industry than the well being of its people, that it is preoccupied with economic success rather than social equity and that the United States has made a business of peddling influence.
There is no reason to believe that Osama bin Laden is not genuinely concerned with climate change or monetary policy—he is a leader, albeit a bad one. Already the United States has begun to realize that it cannot remove the Taliban completely by force, understanding that they will have to be incorporated or compromised within the process of maintaining a stable government in Afghanistan. Ground commanders in Afghanistan are trying to find ways to convert young mujhadeen into the Afghan army, so that when president Hamid Karzai’s administration takes more control over the country over the next 2 years, more men will be invested in sustaining the government than overthrowing it. It could be that 20 years from now Afghanistan will be run by men who once believed that bin Laden was the freedom fighter and the U.S. soldiers were real terrorists.
We must make a stand against men who only seek to destroy for their own gain. At the same time, we also have to listen to honest criticism, if only to diffuse it. It is true that Osama bin Laden is our enemy, that he is allegedly responsible for killing thousands of people. Unfortunately, in many instances, he has more depth than the bogeyman we make him out to be. In the end, while we may not abide the advice of bin Laden, it takes a terrorist to know one, and apparently he thinks a lot of them are running our country.