mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Bin Laden Gave Up on Jihad

The big news today: according to family members, by the end of his life Osama bin Laden was telling his family to “Go to Europe and America and get a good education.”

What? The great Islamic umma, center of global culture and light of the world has no universities where the children of the Great Jihadi can get a decent education?  The clueless, hell-bound infidels of Europe and America make the Sons of the True Faith look incompetent and backward on the vital matter of educating the young?  It isn’t enough to sit on a dirt floor in Pakistan memorizing the Koran and learning how to wear a suicide bomb vest?

But what about the obligation to take up the cause of jihad and violence and crush the evil doers in the West?

Never mind about all that, Osama supposedly told his children and grandchildren.  “Do not follow me down the road to jihad,” he said.  “You have to study and live in peace and don’t do what I am doing or what I have done.”

All those Salafi ideologues promoting the idea of jihad against the West as a sacred obligation compulsory on all Muslims are presumably choking on their beards as they read these words.  The homosexual-hangers and the adultress-stoners are having a bad morning. No doubt they will tell themselves that this story is yet another lie from the cynical west, but they will have to wrap themselves ever more tightly in the delusions and wishful thinking that blinker their thoughts — and undermine their political effectiveness.

Beside welcoming evidence, however questionable, that a terrible sinner was exploring the path of repentance however tentatively, Via Meadia gloats. Bin Laden’s path was a dead end in more ways than one; any sign that he knew how futile his bloody deeds were and that his effort to topple American power had failed is welcome.

The information, given in an interview to the London Times by a sister of one of bin Laden’s wives, raises many questions.  Was bin Laden telling his own kids to avoid jihad while still trying to recruit misguided young people to the cause around the world?  Or, downloading porn in Abbotabad and reflecting on the consequences of his deeds, had bin Laden come to see the futility of his course? Is the sister-in-law saying whatever she thinks will give her relatives a brighter future now that bin Laden is dead and his movement is shattered?

One doesn’t know, and perhaps we never will for sure. But it looks increasingly as if America not only killed bin Laden: we are destroying his dream.

His kids should have no trouble following his advice to study in America, by the way.  Just think of the essays they will be able to write on their college applications.

 

 

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • JKB

    Well, if they do apply to college they will want to avoid the liberal arts. Writing about the futility of Jihad and the virtues of the West is a good way to flunk out of most western liberal arts programs.

  • peter38a

    Ah, Dr. Mead, do you have links to any of the porn OBL watched. I’d like to have my kids go to school and get a good educations too.

  • readdocs

    You mean there is hope after all for the hopeless?

  • Sharath

    …and when they get to the United States, they will come under the tutelage of professors who will teach them–or imply–that the West is evil. It won’t be long before they conclude that Jihad is the right and sanctioned thing to do. Isn’t that part of how Bin Laden became a Jihadist, except that he went to Europe for his “good” education?

  • BillH

    My experience with that culture consists mainly of dealing with service people and small merchants during layovers in most of the middle eastern countries during the late ’50s and ’60s. I believe they were all monarchies or dictatorships then. My impression always was that they would tell you nicey-nice what you wanted to hear, until they caught you off guard. We tried to never take our eyes off them. (Like Juan Williams, just relating experience and impressions, not opinions.)

  • JimMtnViewCaUSA

    Convenient.
    I wonder if OBL was saying that…or if family members want to return to a normal life and think this is a way to get out of the gunsights.

  • MJMJ

    One of the great debates in this war against islamic extremism (AKA the war on terror) has been whether our taking the fight to them in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, functions to recruit more terrorists or whether our demonstrating resolve through these conflicts functions more to demoralize (let alone kill) the other side and convince them it’s a fight they cannot win and should not continue. I vote for the latter, and I think this story is more evidence for it.

  • http://steamcatapult.com/ Dave Pinsen

    Bin Laden may have failed to topple American power, but he succeeded in making America a less free country, one where the elderly and handicapped have been humiliated by invasive TSA screenings, where phone lines have been tapped without warrants, and now Americans can be held indefinitely without trial. Not much to gloat about there.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Dave Pinsen: But all the more reason to rejoice that he’s dead and that, if this information is true, he realized what a loser he was before the curtains came down.

  • WigWag

    Now if only the “homosexual-hangers” in Uganda and the Ugandan Anglican Church would have a bad day that would be an indication that things really are getting better.

  • Kansas City

    I always had reservations about the killing of Bin Laden. The media has given the democratic president a pass, but Obama simply ordered that Bin Laden be killed.

    Now, I agree this is a highly questionable report. But if it is true, imagine what a great move it would have been not to kill Osama and have him emerge as a “reformed” Islamist. Probably wishful thinking.

  • Tatterdemalian

    I’m not buying it. If he’d really wanted to repent of jihad, he could have surrendered at any time, or publicly told his followers to stop fighting, instead of privately telling his family not to practice what he preached. I’m pretty sure this story is being made up after the fact, to try to manipulate the US media into keeping us at each other’s throats instead of strangling their global jihad like we’ve been doing.

  • Warren Bonesteel

    “…but they will have to wrap themselves ever more tightly in the delusions and wishful thinking that blinker their thoughts — and undermine their political effectiveness.”

    I’ve met – and known – a lot of people in my fifty-four years of life, from celebrities to politicians, from billionaires to drug addits, from bikers to nationally known religious leaders – and everyone I’ve ever met lives a life of delusion and wishful thinking.

    w/o some of these delusions, of course, civilization would be impossible. With them? We live in a word of lies and self deception.

    Yet, there comes a time for each of us when we cannot do anything else but face the truth. On that day, you gain more than you can ever deny…but you lose everything you once thought dear.

  • Matt Langley

    If you think that killing Bin Laden has shattered his movement, you are very naive.

    1, He had very little to do with any of the atrocities committed in his name. The nature of his movement was one of a many disparate groups working autonomously.

    2, A martyr never detracted from any fanatical cause. If fact, it creates a figurehead that you can’t then tear down or discredit.

    That said, I do hope his ‘movement’ is running out of steam, and I do think that popular support is waning because his tactics have been shown not to achieve his goals, and to bring misery to the people he claims to represent.

    Ultimately the only way to undermine such a movement is to undermine the reasons for it’s popular support. Force of arms can never defeat a movement with popular support.

  • James Jones

    If this is true, it’s a shame he didn’t come out and tell the people he’d whipped into a frenzy the same thing.

  • gs

    I am far from convinced that the report is correc,t but it invites speculation.

    If it’s true, should our intelligence system have known about it? If it’s true, would we have been better off to leave bin Laden anonymous and possibly dead rather than turning him into a martyr (I want retribution for 9/11 as much as anyone, but am talking about overall strategy)? If it’s true, was there a possibility that he would have renounced jihad publicly, with or without inducement?

    The foregoing questions are not rhetorical. I have not formed an opinion.

  • NukemHill

    All those Salafi ideologues promoting the idea of jihad against the West as a sacred obligation compulsory on all Muslims are presumably choking on their beards as they read these words.

    This is assuming, of course, that can actually read. I’m not sure I’d take that on faith….

  • NukemHill

    “… that they can actually read.”

    Edit twice; post once.

  • Hubbub

    “…but they will have to wrap themselves ever more tightly in the delusions and wishful thinking that blinker their thoughts — and undermine their political effectiveness.”

    Can we not say the same about our political leaders and intellectuals?

  • Jim.

    So, who wants to be the one to tell WigWag what Jefferson and the other founders thought were reasonable anti-sodomy laws?…

  • subrot0

    Matt L: Force of arms can never defeat a movement with popular support.”

    Nazism was defeated by force of arms. So was Communism. And so will Islam. It is hard to argue with a person that is quite convinced that you are the “enemy.”

  • http://blogs.the-american-interest.com fernstalbert

    Awh, Osama found “western religion” too late. The lover of medieval times didn’t want his children to live in caves – warming their hands by a bonfire. Somehow the regretful bin Laden does not adequatley compensate the misery and destruction that his perverted jihad wrought. Cheers.

  • Kris

    Warren@13: “everyone I’ve ever met lives a life of delusion and wishful thinking.”

    Yeah, yeah, keep telling yourself that. 🙂

  • Sid

    Where are the videos he recorded with these messages? If he repented or had a change of heart or whatever, did he provide any evidence at all?

    If you ignore the police reports and just listen to your grandmother, your grandfather is a hardworking saint.

  • Some Sock Puppet

    @ Professor Mead:

    Absolutely true re: Bin Laden – but do you think we’ll see any rollback on these invasive programs? If anything it seems like we’re accelerating towards ludicrous speed.

  • crypticguise

    Why should we accept taqiyya “hearsay” from a Muslim relative of OBL? This is just a way to change tactics. Islamonazis are not to be trusted. Ever.

  • WigWag

    Well, Jim, at just about the time that Jefferson suggested changing the penalty for sodomy in Virginia from death by hanging to castration, every single American colony (and later the original states) made witchcraft a crime punishable by death. Perhaps you think these statutes were reasonable and should still be enforced today.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the retiring Ugandan Anglican Prelate, Archbishop Orombi thought antiwitchcraft laws should still be enforced just as it does not surprise me that Orombi holds the same position on homosexuality that Osama Bin Laden did; that it should be punishable by death.

    What does surprise me is that there are American Episcopalians so devoid of any concept of God’s love that they would seek out the spiritual leadership of a Ugandan Prelate (and his almost as dense Nigerian colleagues) who agrees with Bin Laden about gay people rather than Katherine Jefferts Schori who thinks gay people should be allowed to marry or serve as Anglican Bishops.

    When a not inconsiderable number of Episcopalians have more sympathy with Orombi’s view on homosexuality than the view of Jefferts-Schori or Gene Robinson, something is, so to speak, “rotten in Denmark”.

  • Andrea Ostrov Letania

    Well, good for Osama. Now, can we tell American politicians and people to give up on our jihad to remake the world in our image?
    Osama and Alqaeda were deadends, but so is our culture of MTV, porn, violent videogames, and teaching little girls to dress like sluts.

  • Roy

    As a guest of a guest, my family had a Bin Laden family member over for drinks a few years ago. She was attractive, intelligent and consummately polite. If Bin Laden’s children and relations are interested in what the West has to offer, they should be welcomed.

  • subrot0

    Sid,
    If you had a video signed authenticated by OBL it would be meaningless. Everyone would deny the tape. Any evidence would be vehemently denied.

    The biggest problem that Muslims radical will have will be women. Watching children die in the name of Allah can be a bit wearying after raising the children.

  • Puckster

    Bin Laden was, from the beginning, only a poster boy. Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahiri has been and will continue to be the brains behind Al Qaeda and the MuslimBrotherhood.

    His devotion is imbedded in the Assassins:

    http://www.alamut.com/subj/ideologies/alamut/hitti_Ass.html

    Osama was a bit player. A useful tool.

  • S P Dudley

    To summarize, in the end we won over Mr Bin Laden’s own soul. If that’s not victory I don’t know what is.

  • Daniel

    Hey Matt Langley!
    Force of arms cannot defeat a movement with popular support?
    I guess the Nazis are still in power in Germany, and Tojo still rules Japan. (Remember the Kamikaze who suicide bombed our ships with their planes as bombs?) And the Confederacy still governs our South.
    Carthage outlasted Rome. Sparta stayed powerful after the Thebans beat them. Gosh I didn’t know!

  • Corlyss

    Sounds like something Geronimo might have said to his grandkids.

    @Dudley
    If we won over Bin Laden in the end, we also managed to cede to his ilk the western universities where western civ is spat upon as the civilization of the meritless oppressor/murderer/enslaver and Bin Laden is celebrated along with Che.

  • Perspecticus

    “Now, I agree this is a highly questionable report. But if it is true, imagine what a great move it would have been not to kill Osama and have him emerge as a “reformed” Islamist.”

    This comment by Kansas City is the exact point of this “Bin Laden Redemption” tale’s release. Other attempts to water down the impact of Bin Laden’s killing such as “Bin Laden isn’t dead” and “Bin Laden would not be dead if Obama had his way” are not sufficiently persuasive on their own. However, several small stories like those, each with its own group of proponents, can ultimately have the desired effect.

    This story has it all, too. It attempts to portray a mass murderer in a sympathetic light all while showing Obama as callous (killing a changed man), decidedly un-Christian (killing a redeemed man), and politically inept (killing an immense public relations coup). Just imagining the level of cynicism required to create something like this is enough to drive a person to drink.

  • lordlex

    There are no Messages from bin saying this. There is no redemtion from him I would buy. To have him alive and show him off would be about as stupid as can be. If he said this to anyone, it was probably because he had to live the way he lived and felt nightsweats on any buzzing insect that even remotely sounds like an incoming hellfire.

    It’s a good thing the man is dead, and as the last little bit of his corpse is being digested by some large crab, the world is a better place.

    He was no “believer” and he was not driven by the *occupation* of arab lands..He is a cold blooded killer who is happy to gain power by the killing of innocents.

  • andres

    I thought that the Bin Laden family had swore thay they have lost contact with Osama after 9/11. So they were lying?

  • teapartydoc

    Wig Wag sure seems to be hung up on this “sodomy” thing.

  • WigWag

    Well teapartrdoc, it was Professor Mead who mentioned that the “homosexual hangers” were having a bad day as a result of Bin Laden’s putative comments. I am merely pointing out that the “homosexual hangers” in Uganda (a subject Mead has recently posted about) don’t seem to be having a bad day and neither do their fellow travelers in certain quarters of the American Episcopal Church. Apparently it’s not just Bin Laden accolytes who are “homosexual hangers” it’s Christians in Africa and the United States too.

  • Jonathan Silber

    If Bin Laden had in fact abandoned global jihad for online pornography, he could have holed up in any branch of our public libraries and saved himself the cost of the Internet connection.

  • Lexington Green

    One uncorroborated hearsay report from a relative, an in-law, who has an interest in spreading this message. Simply, without more, I do not believe it.

  • Charles Oltorf

    So, is anyone really surprised at this? For the past 200+ years politics in Europe and the U.S.A. has been about people projecting on to their political establishment their difficulties adjusting to changes. So now the Arab world is doing the same. Just as in America and Europe, Moslems will eventually realize that their political leaders cannot channel the deep changes generated by new technologies and by urbanization into any pathway that they choose. Politics must focus on adjusting policies to accommodate long term changes that are going to take place anyway rather than trying to devise some sort of dream society. Bin Laden’s late life recognition that he was engaged in a quixotic effort is going to be replicated many times among Moslems who believe today that they can remake the world into some sort of idealized caliphate. Religion could have a useful place in helping people to accept the consequences of social and technological change by assuring us that God has a plan and that He expects us to adapt to the world as we find it rather to rebel. Unfortunately, the history of both Christianity and Islam is that both religions have been used as an excuse to reject “God’s plan” rather than to accept the difficulties of change.

  • don

    Wishful thinking: Not because the lesser jihad continues, but because the American intelligence establishment never did figure out who the [heck] “Deep Throat” was.

  • Jim

    I love how conservatives waste no time before they start putting words in liberal mouths and don’t even respond to the story. Their only interest is in making dumb jokes and stupid political points. I think they think more like Osama Bin Laden than any liberal. They’re certainly a lot more intolerant and stupid, much like a jihadist from Pakistan. Remember, liberals are the smart ones.

  • Daulat Ram

    If OBL really said this it is highly to his credit. It would also make him an incomparably wiser man than the US etablishment which fantically touts so-called free market capitalism despite the grotesque abuses and inequalities it leads to. How about some US apologies?

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service