Osama Bin Laden
Osama was one of dozens of children sired by a Yemeni construction magnate in Saudi Arabia on an array of concubines. He was a shy and sensitive boy, a surprising norm amongst terrorists. Osama thinks of himself as the stand-up guy who takes on the bully for everyone’s benefit, but it’s hard not to notice that he seeks out conflict and victimization. His skilled use of mass media fused his personal issues with an Arab-Muslim creed of persecution by the western world.
In 1980, there was no infidel invader in Osama’s native Saudi Arabia, so he traveled to Afghanistan to revel in holy war. Shy, insecure boys like Osama did not impress Afghan warriors as leadership material so Osama built a base and filled it with Arab volunteers. His fort, he commands. In 1986, the Russians came for his base at Jaji. Although he lost the battle, Arab media coverage created his reputation as a mujahideen. After that, Osama played the media with a sort of genius. Footage of himself imitating genuine battle leaders spread around the Arab world.
When the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, they left Osama without a satisfactory enemy. For a moment Saddam Hussein looked like he would invade Saudi Arabia, a dream come true for Osama. He could be the Islamic freedom fighter in his own home. How convenient would that have been? Osama offered to bring his fighters and expertise from Afghanistan, but the Saudi royal family decided that the United States could better protect the country. Shocked, rejected, and humiliated, Osama turned his anger towards the Saudi royals and the United States.
Osama embarked on a jihad that few others thought necessary. The US presence in Saudi Arabia was hidden in desert bases and just not visible like the Russians in Afghanistan had been. Osama attacked what he could, embassies in Africa and the USS Cole, but he got surprisingly little attention for his efforts. Finally he struck in New York, which was a mistake. Jihad only has resonance as a defensive act and the 9-11 attacks were a provocation. European countries recognized themselves as potential targets for future attacks. Even Afghans sympathized with the American counterattack, and no Anti-American jihad has developed there yet. Currently Osama has found a pocket of the world where he is protected, but his reputation as a freedom fighter is tainted with criminal acts.