Bin Laden's Letter to US Stuns Young Americans: 'He Was Right'

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Bin Laden's Letter to US Stuns Young Americans: 'He Was Right'

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Bin Laden's Letter to US Stuns Young Americans:
'He Was Right'

Nov 16, 2023 at 6:49 AM EST
Article Source
By Giulia Carbonaro
US News Reporter

A decades-old document allegedly written by Osama bin Laden and titled "Letter to America" recently went viral on TikTok, with some young Americans believing that the al-Qaeda founder made valid points about their own country.

The two-page document, which was published by The Guardian, is a letter Bin Laden wrote in 2002 as a polemic against the U.S. and an explanation of the ideology that led him to orchestrate the 9/11 attacks.

While the incendiary document is now 21 years old, some have seen the text as a way to make sense of current world affairs, including the Israel-Hamas war. Bin Laden's words have been described as "mind-blowing" and a "revelation."

A search for "Letter to America" on TikTok shows that some of the most popular related clips have over 1 million views each.

Osama bin Laden is seen in an undated photo. A 2002 letter written by bin Laden as an explanation for the 9/11 attacks has gone viral on social media.

"It's wild and everyone should read it," said one TikTok user, warning that the letter had left her "very disillusioned" and "confused." Another user talked of having an "existential crisis" after reading the document and having her entire viewpoint on life changed by it.

"It's actually so mind-blowing to me that terrorism has been sold as this idea to the American people…that this group of people, this random group of people, just suddenly wakes up one day and just hates you…it doesn't make sense," another TikTok user said.

A few TikTok reactions to the letter show users recreating their joy at hearing of Bin Laden's death in 2011, then contrasting it with their shock at reading the letter in 2023, adding the phrase "he was right."

Bin Laden, the son of a wealthy Saudi businessman, founded al-Qaeda—or "the Base"—in 1988 following the Soviets' defeat and withdrawal from Afghanistan, a conflict in which he fought.

Under his leadership, the group launched several deadly attacks and bombings in various nations, including the attacks on September 11, 2001, where terrorists hijacked four airliners in the eastern U.S., crashing three of them against the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. In October of the same year, bin Laden was added to the U.S. Most Wanted.

The 9/11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 Americans and injured thousands more.

In the letter, bin Laden accused the U.S. of being responsible for the oppression of Palestinians because of its support for Israel.

"The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals," bin Laden wrote. "Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its price, and pay for it heavily."

The Saudi-born militant then wrote that Palestinians had to be "revenged," along with the people of Afghanistan. The U.S.' purported role in the oppression of Palestinians and Muslims, according to bin Laden, was a justification for the murdering of American civilians.

"The American people are the ones who pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan, the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine, the armies which occupy our lands in the Arabian Gulf, and the fleets which ensure the blockade of Iraq," bin Laden wrote. "This is why the American people cannot be innocent of all the crimes committed by the Americans and Jews against us."

The Guardian has since deleted the letter without offering an explanation. The page now has a message reading: "This page previously displayed a document containing, in translation, the full text of Osama bin Laden's 'letter to the American people,' as reported in the Observer on Sunday 24 November 2002. The document, which was published here on the same day, was removed on 15 November 2023."

At the time of its original publication, the letter was described by the Guardian as "a chilling new message from Osama bin Laden" that was being circulated among British Islamic extremists, "calling for attacks on civilians and describing the 'Islamic nation' as 'eager for martyrdom.'"

The removal of the document from the British newspaper's website has led to accusations of a conspiracy to cover up the truth. The Guardian told Newsweek: "The transcript published on our website in 2002 has been widely shared on social media without the full context. Therefore we have decided to take it down and direct readers to the news article that originally contextualized it instead."

However, many on social media have taken issue with those seeing any merit in the letter, with one describing people finding "truth" in the letter as "ridiculous." Another asserted that the letter might be part of "a deliberate trend manipulation campaign."

Update, 11/16/23 9:45 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include additional background information on Osama bin Laden.

Update, 11/16/23 11:50 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a comment from The Guardian.

"All GREAT TRUTHS begin as blasphemies."
-- George Bernard Shaw
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