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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More