08/05/05 - bin laden's motive

In today's excerpt -  comments on the motive Bin Laden had for the 9/11 attacks. In the period immediately following the attacks, most commentators followed the prescribed thinking that Al Qaeda 'hated us because of our way of life' and were determined to conquer America. A minority of commentators—particularly those with significant familiarity with other terrorists from the past—had a different view. They recognized familiar terrorist pattern (albeit writ extremely large) and saw the attacks primarily as Al Qaeda's way of bringing increased attention to themselves and increasing their credibility, power and membership on their home turf. This point of view is becoming widely accepted and is represented well by Max Rodenbeck below:

"Bin Laden found himself, by the mid-1990s bottled up in the Afgan badlands, having been stripped of his Saudi nationality and booted out of ostensibly 'Islamist'-ruled Sudan. Among his camp mates, the ragtag leftovers of the Muslim foreign legion of Afghanistan, the fire of armed jihad still burned. But their passion lacked a satisfactory immediate outlet. Radical insurgencies had been defeated or severely constrained, across a number of local fronts, from Egypt to Algeria to the Southern Phillipines. Most ordinary Muslims in these countries, as Randal observes, had not merely failed to join in the fight but questioned its very premises.

"With these so-called 'near enemies' in Asia and the Middle East proving inconveniently resilient, the idea emerged of transferring jihadist zeal instead to the 'far enemy'. Hitting the United States would in itself score points, considering that America was seen as a pillar of support for compromised Muslim regimes, such as Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's, that bin Laden had as his target. The boldness of attacking the strongest world power would propel Islam (or rather, the jihadists' version thereof) onto the geo-olitical stage as a force demanding equal stature. This would not only inspire reluctant jihadists to join in the fight. It would also help cement the broader and growing, Muslim sense that their faith was somehow under threat, and needed vigorous defense. ...

"This strategy is not original."


Max Rodenbeck


'The Truth About Jihad'


The New York Review of Books


August 11, 2005


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