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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid