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Featured Essay #2

Bin Laden.. a Messiah or a Devil?

By: Ali Baghdadi

Though he had spent over ten years in combat and been injured six times while fighting Soviet forces of occupation, Osama bin Laden, a son of a Saudi multi-billionaire whose business (that his children inherited) our former President Bush the father still works for, generally remained a forgotten figure in the caves of rugged and remote mountains of Afghanistan. A few, even among his Arab and Muslim compatriots, would take the turbaned guerilla fighter seriously, despite all attempts by the U.S. government and media to promote him to the world as the leader of Muslim fundamentalist terrorists that American business needs as an enemy in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the destruction of Communism.

However, things have changed!

Most of the credit must be given to our leaders and strategists in Washington who lack the courage and vision to address the root of the problem that led, as we are told, nineteen young Muslim men to carry out the most horrible non-governmental terrorist act in history. Instead of steering America, a damaged ship, safely to shore, and reviewing our misguided and immoral policy that made America the most hated country on earth, and resulted in the destruction of our two symbols of economic and military powers, and above all the death of innocent people, our President chose a with-us-or-against-us crusade as a solution.

The popularity of bin Laden, however, jumped up at a rate which has never been seen before shortly after U.S. and British bombs and missiles came raining down on real people, flattening entire villages in various regions of Afghanistan, the poorest and the most devastated country on earth as a result of a planned, coordinated and led by the CIA war that made America the only superpower in the world today. In the first night of America and Britain's bombardment alone, Osama, which translates into 'the lion of the desert', the first name of the Saudi millionaire, who rejected the easy and glamorous life which the majority of Arab rich and famous enjoy wandering between the gambling casinos and whore houses of the 'civilized world', was given to thousands of new born babies throughout the Muslim world, over thirty in a single Yemeni town. Now little children call him baba (daddy) Osama and shower him from far away places with kisses. Elderly men and women pray for his victory against satanic forces. Young boys and girls wish to join his al-Qaidah forces so, they believe, may contribute for a better world in which the lives and welfare of people of all colors and races are respected. His pictures and tapes have, "out of the blue", become best-sellers throughout Asia and Africa, even in Kenya and Tanzania where bin Laden is being accused of masterminding the bombing of the U.S. embassies that resulted in the death of over 200 natives. In California, a Latin American was arrested on charges of tattooing his arm with a picture of bin Laden, a 'crime' punishable by 25 years in jail, in a land that regards the burning and desecrating of the American flag as a right of free expression protected by the constitution.

Bin Laden's speech that he released to al-Jazareera Qatari TV a couple hours after President Bush ordered the bombing, left the U.S. President and his European allies confused and dazzled. The ten minutes speech has captured the hearts and minds of masses as far as Indonesia in the East, the Senegal in the West, Chechnya in the north and the Union of South Africa in the South. A fragile man, aided by a stick due to his injuries that he received fighting the Soviets, is standing up to a power, which is robbing, raping and oppressing African, Asian and Latin American nations. To combat bin Laden's rapid and frightening popularity and influence, the White House, which constantly and tirelessly lectures the world on democracy, human rights and respect of freedom of opinion and speech, instructed the press in the United States and so-called friendly Muslim countries to boycott or, at least, censor his statements, that are considered to be a weapon of mass destruction.

The great majority of Arab and Muslim kings, presidents and emirs are shaking in their pants. In their daily prayers, facing Washington, their new Mecca, they humbly appeal to the U.S. government to show mercy and understanding, and remind the White House of their record and service as faithful "friends". To appease their dissatisfied and uncontrollable subjects in this critical period, they beg the U.S. President to address the Palestinian problem, not blame Islam for terrorism, to present evidence about the assault on New York and Washington, and not expand his "crusade" to other Muslim countries.

It is no secret that Arab leaders do not represent or speak for their people. The American government itself, however, knows that Bin Laden does. To some he is the new Saladdin who will defeat the crusade armies and open the gates of Jerusalem, after he enters the city, to worshipers of all faiths and denominations. To others he is the Messiah that the world has long been awaiting for. President Bush describes him an evildoer and a devil that, if is not soon captured "dead or alive", will destroy us all.

Bin Laden's words are being echoed by one billion two hundred million Muslims throughout the world, including those who, for obvious reasons, publicly rushed to condemn him, as well as those who share his political objectives but disagree with his theory that Islam, as practiced by Prophet Muhammad fourteen hundred years ago, is the only solution to all current Muslim problems. Bin Laden's voice has become music that touches the hearts of Muslims who fully agree with his demands to end Zionist occupation of Palestine, lift the sanctions and stop the aggression on Iraq, and withdrawal of foreign troops from all Muslim lands:

"In these days, Israeli tanks infest Palestine - in Jenin, Ramallah, Rafah, Beit Jalla, and other places in the land of Islam, and we don't hear anyone raising his voice or shaking his limbs...

"Neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of enjoying security before we live it in Palestine."

With no evidence presented, President Bush, the leader of the mightiest force that wields a multi-billion dollar in the most sophisticated war machinery, has declared a war against innocent people, who were used and later abandoned by the United States, a war that may last ten years or more and will include other Muslim targets.
Speaking for bin Laden, Sulaiman Abu Gheith, a Kuwaiti, vowed to fight back until aggression against Muslim and Third World nations ends. "America has opened a door that, God willing, will not be closed."

Prince Bendar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador in Washington, described bin Laden and his comrades on American TV as s.o.b's, and urged the U.S. to exterminate all those who threaten his Saudi dynasty and Royal Highness.

During Friday prayer sermon, only a few feet away from the tomb of Prophet Muhammad in Medina, Saudi Arabia, imam Hussein Ali al-Sheikh, addressing over 250,000 worshippers, repeatedly implored Allah to "protect all Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine." The believers echoed his words in one solemn voice, and then chanted "amen." Those who speak the language of the desert do understand what the imam, who is appointed by a regime that does not allow free expression, actually means, "May God give victory to bin Laden and all those who dare to stand against injustice, tyranny, arrogance and oppression."

Ali Baghdadi wrote this essay from Amman, Jordan while visiting there. He commented further in a personal email that "to a man, woman, and even child" the Arabs he met there love Osama bin Laden.