News / Middle East

    Experts Assess bin Laden’s Ongoing Influence

    Experts Assess bin Laden’s Ongoing Influence
    Experts Assess bin Laden’s Ongoing Influence

    While many Americans are celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden, others worry about his continuing role as an inspiration for terrorists and hate groups. Two experts, who study bin Laden’s role as a symbol, say the terrorist leader might be gone but is not forgotten.  

    Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, directs a project that studies Internet hate groups.  He says the center has seen increased chatter, or discussion, by militants in recent hours.

    Related video report by Carolyn Pressutti


    "First, disbelief -- some talk of a conspiracy.  But by and large, expressions of grief and anger.  And I am sure that in the coming hours and days, that chatter will then turn to revenge, what we do to get back at the enemy," said Cooper.

    Other scholars are looking more closely at Osama bin Laden to understand the development of his ideas and to assess the extent of his influence.  During the past decade, al-Qaida has released a series of well publicized audio tapes.  But a California scholar is tracing the development of bin Laden's earlier thinking through audio tapes found in the terrorist leader's library in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2001.

    More than 1,500 tapes were acquired by CNN television and are now held by Yale University.  Twenty-two recordings were of bin Laden, mostly public addresses in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries.   Most of the other tapes are public addresses by other Muslim leaders or thinkers.

    Religion scholar Flagg Miller at the University of California, Davis says the tapes reflect debates within bin Laden’s inner circle over the role of violence, especially against Muslims and non-combatants, as the terrorist leader crafted a militant message and tried to win followers.

    The only tape published so far was recorded in 1996, and contains bin Laden’s declaration of war against the United States.  Flagg Miller calls it an audacious attempt to mobilize the loosely-knit jihadist movement.

    "He was kicked out of Saudi Arabia.  He was exiled from Sudan under U.S. pressure.  So in the late summer of 1996, he makes this statement declaring war against the United States.  It’s an outlandish statement because he has no political party, he has no movement, he’s been stripped of his money," Miller said.

    Miller says bin Laden was not a scholar, but that the al-Qaida leader artfully blended preaching and poetry, and tapped traditional Muslim themes as he urged war against the West.

    "Once that message that the U.S. was the prime enemy became apparent and foregrounded in his speeches, he would lose broader audiences who felt like he was not paying enough attention to regional issues, including the Palestinians and so forth.  But he would gain very hard-core militants who shared his vision," Miller said.

    Miller says bin Laden’s early speeches show a patient recruitment effort as he urged followers to shift their attention from regional problems, such as bad government in the Muslim world, to what he described as a cosmic struggle.   Miller says bin Laden underwent the same shift in his own thinking and rhetoric.

    Al-Qaida now has a sophisticated Internet presence to promote bin Laden’s thinking.  But Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center says other online sites are also dangerous.  He notes that the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki uses high tech communications to urge acts of violence, and that al-Awlaki has been successful in recruiting so-called lone wolves.

    "The Fort Hood shooter, Jihad Jane, the thwarted SUV New Year’s Eve attack in New York -- all of those had links to this man by way of email.  So you have the use of the Internet to promote people to stay off the grid, make it more difficult for intelligence and law enforcement to even identify potential problems," Cooper said.

    Cooper says law enforcement officials and political leaders need to assess the extent of the problem.

    Flagg Miller warns that the importance of martyrdom for radical jihadists means that bin Laden will continue to have influence as a symbol despite his death.  Still, he says, the loss of al-Qaida's charismatic leader is a major blow for the terror network.

    Rabbi Cooper says the way that bin Laden met his demise in a face-to-face confrontation adds a measure of justice for his victims.  But Cooper cautions that U.S. leaders need to assess the ongoing risk from others who are inspired by Osama bin Laden.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.