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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs