Ghost of Bin Laden Emerges as Newest Hero of Leftist Youths
Do our leaders have the moral clarity — and conviction — to prevail in the part of the struggle that is a war of words?
Talk about disinformation. In a signal of either the gullibility of young Americans or a sinister turn in pro-Hamas propaganda, or both, the latest figure to capture the imagination of TikTok users is the terrorist behind 9/11, Osama bin Laden. It’s tempting to overlook this absurdity, yet the “rediscovery” of a bin Laden letter justifying the murder of innocents is a newsworthy development.
By “rediscovery” we mean the resurfacing in the wake of the Gaza war of bin Laden’s “Letter to Americans” of 2002. It sought to justify the attacks of 9/11 and more terrorist attacks against the West. It did so, in part, by condemning America’s policies in the Mideast, including its support for Israel, as harmful to Muslims. TikTokers are beguiled by bin Laden blaming America for the creation of Israel, which he called “one of the greatest crimes.”
Bin Laden’s letter sees “no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel.” Its creation, he wrote, “is a crime which must be erased.” Americans, bin Laden adds, “pay the taxes which fund the planes that bomb us in Afghanistan, the tanks that strike and destroy our homes in Palestine.” Such vitriol is catnip to the pro-Hamas left, which is delighted by the idea that civilians deserved to be killed on 9/11 for America’s support for Israel.
The new interest in bin Laden’s letter, Rolling Stone reports, is a byproduct of the Israel-Hamas war, “as people struggle to make sense of the violence and escalating rhetoric.” As a result, Rolling Stone adds, “more than a few people are willing to give Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden credit for his 2002 polemic.” Rolling Stone quotes an unnamed TikTok user saying “my eyes have been opened” after reading the missive.
The fascination with bin Laden’s screed 21 years later emerges in the context of a wave of “pro-Palestinian videos” since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, which itself followed the terrorist attacks of October 7. The videos are flooding Tik Tok and far outnumbering pro-Israeli videos, as our Maggie Hroncich reports. This is “spurring new questions in the growing debate over how the Chinese-owned app should be regulated,” she adds.
Senator Cotton is among those warning that “that TikTok — China’s spy app and propaganda tool — is pushing Hamas propaganda.” The scale of this propaganda makes it unwise to dismiss the phenomenon, even as TikTok reportedly struggles to quash the bin Laden videos. TikTok has, Ms. Hroncich reports, “more than 1 billion monthly users worldwide and 150 million in America” and is “now the preferred social media outlet” for teens.
Senator Rubio is sounding the alarm about the damage as bin Laden goes, as it were, “viral.” The senior senator of Florida is pointing out that after reading the letter, TikTok users are spouting rationalizations like “terrorism is a legitimate method of resistance against ‘oppression’” and on 9/11 “America deserved to be attacked.” Freelance journalist Yashar Ali laments TikTok users are saying “they’ll never see geopolitical matters the same way again.”
One reason TikTokers seem so startled by bin Laden’s “rediscovery” is they have never heard an explanation for the 9/11 attacks other than that his followers “hate our freedoms.” The letter underscores the fact that America’s — and Israel’s — battle against Islamic terrorism is, in part, a war of words and ideas. This is a war in which we wonder whether President Biden and his camarilla can muster the moral clarity and conviction to prevail.