The World According to Usama Bin Laden
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI
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Since 11 September 2001, a day etched in the memories of all Americans, Usama Bin Laden has replaced Saddam Hussein as Public Enemy Number One. This is hardly surprising, given the growing consensus that the Saudi fugitive and his shadowy Al-Qaeda network were responsible for the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, the single deadliest act of terrorism anywhere to date. For over a decade Iraqs Saddam Hussein had been perceived as a new Hitler, a totalitarian thug with nasty weapons and an age-old quest for personal and national aggrandizement. Americans felt they understood his agenda of territorial irredentism and greed. Moreover, while he talked the talk, he could not walk the walk. His threat to unleash the mother of all battles with his vaunted army turned into the mother of all embarrassments, the humiliating defeat of that army in February 1991. Bin Laden, on the other hand, is terrifyingly different for most Americans. Perhaps many were vaguely familiar with him as a result of the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi,Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998, and the attack on the USS Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000, all of which he is suspected of masterminding. Now, as a result of terror attacks by which he reached out and touched the homeland, Bin Laden is known, at least by name, to every American. The attacks were carried out against the symbols of American economic and military power, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There are indications that the White House, the symbol of American political power, was also a target. The attacks of 11 September 2001 constituted not only a political, economic, and psychological blow but also a cultural shock to Americans. Bin Ladens ideas and visions are unfamiliar to most Americans, who find the idea of a holy war in this day and age bizarre. Questions abound Why do they hate us What does he want Indeed, Bin Ladens goals remain the least understood aspect of this crisis.
- Unconventional Warfare