The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Monday, November 28, 2005


Two ways of looking at Osama:

Even (no, especially) Bin Laden's bitterest enemies take his dicta in dead earnest. The introduction cites an assortment of experts who compliment the godfather of al-Qa'ida on the quality of his Arabic prose, the brilliance of his tactics, and so (creepily) on. Michael Scheuer, the CIA agent once charged with hunting him down, sets the tone by gushing about this "great man": "pious, charismatic, gentle, generous, talented... ". A certain kind of Western scholar - and soldier, indeed - has always had a thing for the exotic brigand who can dress up a taste for slaughter in grand phrases and arcane allusions. When Osama compares Cheney and Powell to Hulagu the Tartar (sacked Baghdad, 1258), you can imagine the heirs to T E Lawrence swooning.

For the rest of us, what comes across is as complete a self-portrait of the psychopathic narcissist as we will ever encounter. Bin Laden's vaunted skills in polemic against the "Jews and Crusaders" reach no further than playground tit-for-tat. You killed "us" (although "us" never included pampered Saudi rich boys) so the same to you with knobs on. And brass knobs on. That's about it. As for theology, "Every Muslim, from the moment they realise the distinction in their hearts, hates Americans, hates Jews, and hates Christians. This is a part of our belief and our religion." Al-Qa'ida, remember, began industrial-scale butchery by murdering 200 black Africans (Muslims among them) in Kenya and Tanzania.