For more than a year now, millions of people worldwide have searched for answers as to why 3,000 people died during the Sept. 11 attacks.
A recent letter translated by British Islamists and attributed to Osama bin Laden offers up the first detailed explanation — an explanation Americans, in the interest of promoting future peace, should consider.
The 4,000-word letter is surprisingly to the point, as bin Laden’s words — as they often do — this time do not get lost in Islamic scripture.
Instead, the letter is written methodically in outline format and answers two questions bin Laden says the American people have refused to: Why are al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations attacking, and what is it that bin Laden is demanding from Americans.
Bin Laden claims the United States attacked the Nation of Islam in Palestine through its support for the Israeli government.
In addition to support of Israel, on which bin-Laden seems to base the bulk of his argument, he says of the United States: “You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.”
Bin Laden says in the letter that Americans lack manners and principles, calling on the country to adopt Islam and “to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling and trading with interest.”
Bin Laden condemns President Bill Clinton for his Oval Office scandal four years ago, accuses the United States of objectifying women and credits Americans with the worldwide spread of the AIDS virus.
As for the deaths of civilians in the attacks on New York and Washington, bin Laden says no American civilian is innocent because the U.S. government is structured so citizens can remove politicians who have policies with which they don’t agree.
If the government is elected by the people, the people are just as guilty as the politicians who make the policies, bin Laden reasons.
While some of bin Laden’s arguments are derived from warped logic, and his solution laughably hypocritical, his words, nevertheless, should be taken seriously.
It is highly unlikely the letter will be well-received in the American public, but all Americans should take the time to read bin Laden’s explanation.
The first step in preventing a war is understanding the enemy. And while bin Laden’s letter is rife with threats of more terrorism on U.S. soil, many of his points are well-argued and worth considering.
Bin Laden is not inherently evil. He is angry, intelligent and powerful. Until this point, Americans have been given a vague explanation for the Sept. 11 attacks. Bin Laden has now given his justification, and wrong or right, U.S. citizens should at least listen.