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The Edge of Terrorism

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Bin Laden's Bookshelf: In the Shadow of Anders Breivik

May 23rd 2015

Osama bin Laden in mufti

On July 22, 2011, the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik killed seventy-seven people in and near Oslo. Not long before he attacked, he emailed a 1,500-page document titled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," which included conservative critics of radical Islam among his sources. Immediately, some in the media, academic, and think tank worlds declared these persons guilty by association and charged them with shaping Breivik's thought, even though the manifesto cited about the same number of liberals and conservatives.

Yesterday we were given a look inside the mind of another mass killer when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released Bin Ladin's Bookshelf, a "sizable tranche of documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Usama bin Ladin." The 409 items range from publicly available U.S. government documents to personal letters from bin Laden to family and fellow terrorists.

They also include a fawning January 2005 Washingtonian magazine profile of Georgetown University Wahhabi apologist John Esposito (he doubts bin Laden read it), who has made a lucrative career of blaming the West for the Middle East's troubles. Two volumes by the radical anti-American, anti-Israel MIT linguist Noam Chomsky make the list: Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, and Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance, which argues that America's natural trajectory is world domination by force.

Seasoned America-hater William Blum also scored with two volumes: Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, and Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II. Upon learning in 2006 that bin Laden had mentioned him in an audio tape, Blum said, "If he shares with me a deep dislike for certain aspects of U.S. foreign policy, then I'm not going to spurn any endorsement of the book by him. I think it's good that he shares those views."

Whereas the pundits and journalists who heaped scorn on the anti-Islamist writers Breivik cited could do so only by willfully distorting their views and equating reasoned criticism with hate-mongering and bigotry, the radical authors whose books lined bin Laden's shelves lent genuine support to his views, if not his actions. They shared with him an incorrigible antipathy towards America and the West even as their elite reputations lent a veneer of legitimacy to their hate-filled rhetoric. That the man behind the deaths of so many innocents could turn to them for intellectual support should permanently discredit their ideas and their work.


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