By Mohammad Aslam
On whichever side of hell he currently lingers, the pioneer of unquestionably the most evil ideology of the last 60 years may still have reason to smile. Aside from Television, Radio and Internet literature, even everyday conversations in many parts of the Arab world- are still replete with the utterance of his name. If notoriety is what the notorious yearn for; he’s been given this dubious honour with litany affect.
When he first came onto the scene, Aljazeera Television and its 37 millon plus Arabic- speaking viewers, gave him nonstop coverage. Extending viewing, speech analysis, discussion and endless images resulted in the channel being notoriously dubbed ‘Bin Laden Channel’. There was an almost Hollywoodization of this man and his mission, as if the channel was almost riling up its viewers with his blatant and toxic know-nothing’ism.
Today the provocative days of its coverage for Bin Laden are long gone. But the Arab world and its forever yearning population still need to move on. Years of scorning the sycophantic tone of the western media in its coverage of events in their region, is not a catalyst for giving food for thought to the inflammatory rhetoric once meted out by Bin Laden and his associates.
If anything, Bin Laden’s survival at large for so long played perfectly to his image.
For nearly 10 years, he had evaded the full resources of a trillion dollar economy; its international allies, death of his closest, destruction and betrayal. His death in a brilliantly orchestrated American Navy Seal attack on his compound in North West Pakistan was meant to finally bring closure to the wild goose chase. Like people who slow down to watch a car wreck, he was passionately transfixed by the world he lived in. Dreaming of victory was not to be mere moonshine- he wanted to envisage it zealously.
To him, nothing was more fascinating than watching a house come down, and watching people scatter to rebuild it. The sheer destruction which he ordered afforded him no respite, this was a man possessed; and nothing was more appealing than to see the sight of onlookers to his many atrocities being openmouthed, aghast and appalled. He was a man who spoke endlessly without getting bored of his own rhetoric.
Just as the over concreteness of a dream is related to the intangible themes of waking life, he preached an ideology of hate based on algorithms that were divorced from any emotion, convention and tradition. He was his own reflecting mirror- his own creative object.
The pangs of social isolation and dislocation seem never to have affected him. Bin Laden was not a person who saw the sky as green and fields as blue, and neither was he motivated by ancient superstitions. He was an individual who reacted to his own mortality, existence, and abilities in order to inevitably yield to his desired path of destruction. He had long ago come to terms with death; once he had accepted it he became obsessed about attacking his enemies and those that supported them.
The Arab world needs to erase the essence of Bin Laden and his mission from amongst their midst’s. It does not deserve any intellectual sympathy- no matter how deeply embedded their enmity with parts of the west they may have become. They need to forget historical grievances and wrong doings for which they have long suffered, most notoriously through the hands of the tyrannical regimes supported by the west. The blame for living under the horrors of draconian systems must turn another page.
The devastation caused by Bin Laden’s inspired fanatics has no equal in the new century. His attacks on worldwide, including Arab civilians, must be fraught with unequivocal condemnation in every narration that describes them. They cannot hold a feeling of indifference toward any of his victims, any feeling of sympathy or discourse which is consistent with being neutral; it deserves only a rich degree of action destined to counter the very root which he and his evil breed grew from.
This ‘war of the minds’ is for their future more than any others. It is a war of thought which they have no choice but to succeed in, the Arab awakening must clearly frown upon any inkling toward radicalization its brethren feel compelled toward, only then can they promote the virtues of freedom and development in a uniquely Arab flavor- and a world away from the one Bin Laden sought to create.
Mohammad Aslam is a Ph.D Candidate in Political Violence at the Department of Middle East & Mediterranean Studies, King’s College London.