9781844670451-frontcover-max_221

Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden

“Unless he dies a natural death in hiding, it seems inevitable that sooner or later his hunter will catch him. If captured alive, he will doubtless be killed on the spot.”—from the introduction.
Despite the saturation of global media coverage, Osama bin Laden's own writings have been curiously absent from analysis of the "war on terror." Over the last ten years, bin Laden has issued a series of carefully tailored public statements, from interviews with Western and Arabic journalists to faxes and video recordings. These texts supply evidence crucial to an understanding of the bizarre mix of Quranic scholarship, CIA training, punctual interventions in Gulf politics and messianic anti-imperialism that has formed the programmatic core of Al Qaeda.

In bringing together the various statements issued under bin Laden's name since 1994, this volume forms part of a growing discourse that seeks to demythologize the terrorist network. Newly translated from the Arabic, annotated with a critical introduction by Islamic scholar Bruce Lawrence, this collection places the statements in their religious, historical and political context. It shows how bin Laden's views draw on and differ from other strands of radical Islamic thought; it also demonstrates how his arguments vary in degrees of consistency, and how his evasions concerning the true nature and extent of his own group, and over his own role in terrorist attacks, have contributed to the perpetuation of his personal mythology.

Reviews

  • “A magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic Arabic prose ... in devising strategies to fight the terrorists, it would be useful to understand the forces that drive them.”
  • “Expertly edited.”
  • “Western media have made no consistent effort to publish bin Laden's statements, thereby failing to give their audience the words that put his thoughts and actions in cultural and historical context ... Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us. None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty and democracy, but have everything to do with US policies and actions in the Muslim world.”
  • “Despite the religious rhetoric and the bloody means, bin Laden is a rational man. There is a simple reason why he attacked the US: American imperialism. As long as America seeks to control the Middle East, he and people like him will be its enemy.”
  • “This vital collection of Bin Laden’s statements … provides an invaluable insight into his thinking by bringing his disparate pronouncements within a single set of covers.”
  • “Here, with a shrewd, scholarly introduction from Bruce Lawrence, is the complete bin Laden reader.”
  • “Collectively, these messages are the closest we will ever have to the terrorist leader’s Mein Kampf.”
  • “The first complete collection of the Saudi's statements published today portrays a world in which Islam's enemies will take the first steps towards salvation by embracing the 'religion of all the Prophets.'”

Blog

  • Post Orlando / Post Brexit Anti-Islamophobia Reading List

    Following the tragic Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub, both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called for a return to “the spirit of 9/12,” a reference to a dark period of racism, surveillance, and state sanctioned Islamophobia after the September 11th attacks. In the United Kingdom, instances of xenophobia and Islamophobia have reportedly surged following the EU referendum, leaving migrants and minorities, particularly Muslim women, vulnerable to attack and discrimination. As events unfold and the "Brexit" debates continue, we present a reading list of key titles that shed light on the origins of Islamophobia and ways we can organize to fight it. 

    Continue Reading

  • Community, diversity, solidarity: saving the urban spirit after Paris—By Antonis Vradis

    The tragic events of Paris and the security backlash in their wake are acute reminders that Europe’s urban spirit has come under attack. To save it, writes Antonis Vradis, we urgently need to defend the closeness and diversity which define everyday urbanity.


    Richard Sennett put forward one of the most succinct definitions for those retreating from urban life in his book The Uses of Disorder: “suburbanites”, he argued, "are people who are afraid to live in a world they cannot control." In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the vast majority of French―and possibly European―urbanites now fit this description.

    Continue Reading

  • The war must go on... Sebastian Budgen on the West's strategy after Paris

    The attacks on Paris last Friday, 13th November, have prompted a predictable response: bombs abroad and a further restriction of civil liberties at home, not to mention a ratcheting up of Islamophobia. Sebastian Budgen analyses the wisdom of this approach.



    This is perhaps the moment to take a step back to review the brilliance of West's counterrorist strategy, which we can then admire in all its strategic and tactical coherence:

    Continue Reading